this is bbc news. i'm shaun ley. the headlines at apm: the first of a group of critically ill syrian children are allowed to leave a rebel—held area of damascus. motorists are being warned that snow and ice are causing disruption to motorways in england and wales. stansted airport was closed earlier, after snow caused all flights to be suspended for several hours. and thousands of properties are without electricity, mostly in the english midlands. also in the next hour: prince harry reveals how he sees his future role as a senior royal. he was the guest editor of the today programme on radio 4. the prince says he'll remain above politics, but still seek to shine a light on causes he cares about. i will continue to play my part in society and do myjob to the best of my ability, so i can wake up in the morning and feel energised, and go to bed hopefully knowing that i have done the best that i can. complaints of "rotten" and "rancid" turkeys, tesco apologises to its customers. and as part of the 100 women series divya arya asks why in india
education is often regarded as more important for boys. that's in half an hour here on bbc news. good afternoon and welcome to bbc news. aid workers have begun evacuating critically—ill children from a rebel—held suburb near the syrian capital, damascus. it's been reported that four patients were taken out of ghouta overnight. another 25 are expected to be evacuated in the coming days, although hundreds more are in urgent need of treatment. some 400,000 residents have been under siege by government forces there since 2013. matthew thompson reports. a wave, a smile. and for eight—year—old imjy a chance, at least, at life. 29 seriously ill civilians are due to be evacuated from this besieged suburb of damascus.
many others were not so fortunate. eastern ghouta is one of the last strongholds of rebels fighting the forces of president bashar al—assad. it has been under siege by government troops since 2013 and as peace talks in geneva have faltered, the humanitarian crisis has escalated. food and fuel shortages have led to rampant inflation, starvation, and with medical supplies severely limited, doctors are powerless to help those in need. to escape the constant bombardment, for months families have sheltered in the basements of shattered buildings. but they offer no protection from hunger and disease. these people have been besieged and bombed. and living in the most atrocious conditions. but there is just a little chink now, and if we can get the ceasefire extended, there are peace negotiations starting up again in sochi, in the next few weeks. russian—sponsored talks
may offer a way out, but so far rebel groups have refused to engage. meanwhile, the un has identified nearly 500 seriously—ill civilians in desperate need of evacuation from eastern ghouta. 29 may be a start, but there is much more to be done. matthew thompson, bbc news. robert mardini is the middle east regional director for the international committee of the red cross who have been monitoring the situation. we will speak to him in a few minutes. police are warning drivers of hazardous conditions on the roads today, as heavy snow hits parts of the uk, leaving thousands of homes without power. as dusk falls, there are warnings of ice in parts of scotland, northern ireland and the north east of england, and further snow falls predicted in some areas of england and wales. in essex, the runway at stansted airport was closed for a while so snow and ice could be cleared. simonjones reports. as many took to the roads again after the christmas break, heading home or back to work,
these were the conditions people were facing in bristol. for the emergency services, the wintry weather meant numerous call—outs, crashes, breakdowns and jackknifed lorries kept the police busy. torrential rain overnight has become snow in many areas and that has led to some pretty grim conditions on the roads. many are slushy, there's ice in a lot of areas. notjust the minor roads, but motorways have been affected, too. particularly hard hit was the a14 near kettering, a series of crashes led to some drivers being stuck for hours. i'm on the a14, trying to go eastbound to northampton. i set off from my house in hinckley at 6am this morning. i've been on the a14 for three hours now. as you can see, there's nothing going in the other direction. a bit cross! those who braved the conditions to get to stansted airport found flights disrupted or cancelled, after the runway had to be shut. the snow also brought down power
lines, more than 20,000 homes left without electricity, as temperatures plummeted. there were warnings for ice in scotland, northern ireland, and north east england. 0n boxing day, two walkers had to be rescued from a precarious ledge in snowdonia. the coastguard said they weren‘t properly equipped- a reminder, like here in the lake district, that the snow may look beautiful, but it's posing considerable risks. simonjones, bbc news, high wycombe. simonjones is at stansted airport and we can speak to him now. what is the situation? the good news is that the snow has finally stopped falling but the bad news is that there are still delays and cancellations at airports like this one. the big problem here is that they had to close the runway twice during the day. the first time was
around 9:30am when it had to be closed for 15 minutes so they could clothe the sneer off the runway —— clear the snow. at 12:30pm it had to be shot again for about 25 minutes. asa be shot again for about 25 minutes. as a result, ryanair, the main user of this airport, has to cancel 16 flights today. and many other flights today. and many other flights have faced long delays. in fa ct, flights have faced long delays. in fact, recently, passengers had taken to social media, complaining that they were boarded onto the aircraft several hours ago and they have simply been sitting on the tarmac, waiting to take off. the problem is that when you get snow like this, it's not just that when you get snow like this, it's notjust the runway that has to be cleared, the planes themselves have to be de—iced. that is a process that can take quite a long time. ryanair have been telling us that they apologised to customers who have been caught up in all this
but they say it is just the inevitable consequence of the bad weather that we have seen here. we have also had problems at luton airport, where they have had two hugely reduced the number of flights that have been able to come into the airport. as a result, there have been passengers in other parts of europe who have been wanting to fly backin europe who have been wanting to fly back in two places like stansted and luton and they have found that their flights have been cancelled or delayed. the snow is having quite a far—reaching effect. delayed. the snow is having quite a far-reaching effect. thank you. let's return to our top story this hour, the transfer of critically—ill children from a rebel—held suburb close to the syrian capital, damascus. robert mardini is the middle east regional director for the international committee of the red cross. hejoins us now from geneva. thank you for being with us. firstly, what condition were the patients who were transferred so far, what condition were they in? of course, they were exhausted. they we re course, they were exhausted. they were in dire need of medical
treatment. we are very encouraged and happy to see that this evacuation could actually take place today. we hope more people from eastern ghouta will be able to exit in order to get the medical teacher in —— medical treatment in the coming days. this must have been a hard—won concession. it is needed. medical treatment should not be part of any political... tit—for—tat. life is such that this happens. we are very happy that this could take place. we hope this is a new positive dynamic which will allow more evacuation in the coming days. the reality, though, as you will know better than most, is that a number of people have died whilst waiting for evacuation. this is something new organisation, together with the un humanitarian task force,
has been trying to achieve. the time. what changed? —— trying to achieve for some time. why now? this isa achieve for some time. why now? this is a political agreement that was negotiated. we have been pushing the icrc and all sides to have medical treatment inside eastern ghouta. to have medical supplies flown in on a regular basis. it has been under siege forfour years. we have been bearing witness to a steadily deteriorating humanitarian situation. we have seen a steady and depressing deterioration between august and november. there are two aggravating factors, very intense nonstop fighting for one month. plus, the cold that has started in syria. everything is becoming more urgent. we are hoping that not only
those who are in dire need of medical treatment will be allowed to get out, but that for the rest of the people in eastern ghouta and other localities, humanitarian aid is being... transferred in, to make their life easier. the head of the un's humanitarian task force. we said that last week the original list had been 500 civilians who were in desperate need of evacuation. that was some months ago. the list was shrinking, not because they were getting better but because bluntly they were dying. you must be still concerned that there are a large number of people in the city who may not be at that stage yet, but whose health may yet deteriorate. not least because of the problems of getting adequate food and water supplies. of course, that figure is a conservative one. but —— what our
teams are reporting from eastern ghouta is a very dire humanitarian situation where everything is running low. food and medical supplies are running low. water is none not there and electricity board nonexistent. people are dying from preve nta ble nonexistent. people are dying from preventable chronic diseases. —— there is no water and there is no electricity. this is why there is a sense of urgency today. we hope this will help, more evacuation. an important point, what is also running very low is hope and patients for the people that live in eastern ghouta. —— hope and. we hope it will make things easier for people living there. thank you.
we hope for further good for people living there. thank you. we hope forfurther good news in the coming days. the former us president, barack 0bama, has warned about the irresponsible use of social media, in his first interview since he left office, at the beginning of the year. mr 0bama said social media was, in some cases, simplifying complex issues, and reinforcing people's biases. he was speaking to prince harry, who was the guest editor of radio 4's today programme. this report from our royal correspondent, nicholas witchell. prince harry, first of all, you are very welcome to our studio. good morning. joining the today programme for the day had been a big learning curve, harry said. but he had enjoyed being the interviewer, rather than the interviewed. it was quite fun, especially interviewing president 0bama. his principal scoop had been to persuade barack 0bama to give his first interview since standing down as us president. since standing down as us president. the word trump was never mentioned, but may have been in mr 0bama's mind when he warned about the irresponsible use of social media. how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views, but does not lead to a balkanisation of our society but rather continues to promote ways of
finding common ground? harry had also interviewed his father. the main focus had been on climate change — the issue prince charles has championed for decades and for which he was sometimes derided. maybe now, some years later, they're beginning to realise that what i was trying to say may not have been quite as dotty as they thought. but, i mean, the issue really that has to go on being focused on, big time, i think, is this one around the whole issue of climate change, which, you know, now, whether we like it or not, is the biggest threat multiplier we face. and then at the end of the programme, it was time to face questions, rather than to ask them. first about his fiancee, meghan markle, and herfirst christmas at sandringham. she really enjoyed it. the family loved having her there. and, you know, there's always that family part of christmas,
and always that work element, as well. and i think, together we had an amazing time, we had great fun staying with my brother and sister—in—law. harry's commitment to issues he cares about, like the armed forces and mental health, had come through strongly. so how does he see his future? part of my role and part of myjob is to shine a spotlight on issues that need that spotlight, whether its people, whether its causes, whether it's issues, whatever it is. so i will continue to play my part in society and do myjob to the best of my abilities, so that i can wake up in the morning and feel energised and go to bed, hopefully, knowing that i've done the best that i can. not so long ago, he admits to having doubts about a royal role. clearly, no longer. nicholas witchell, bbc news. is many households feel the pinch
at this time of year as they spend more than usual over the festive season. but one of the economic stories of 2017 has been that the cost of living has risen faster than people's pay. today the think tank, the resolution foundation says the squeeze on people's pay is going to continue well into 2018. joining me now is laura gardiner, a senior policy analyst at the resolution foundation. shejoins me from south london. thank you forjoining us. the facts, what is going to happen next year? firstly, next year looks a bit better than this year when we've had a return to the pay squeeze far too soon after the long five or six year pay squeeze the fun of the financial crisis. but it is not that much better. pay will continue to fall at the start of next year. by december next year, it should be rising again. but that evens out at about zero wage growth over the year as a whole. that is quite a pessimistic outlook after so many years of
stag na nt outlook after so many years of stagnant or even falling as pay. in terms of inflationary pressures in the rest of the economy, is that the real reason people will feel worse of next year? when we talk about pay rising orfalling, we are of next year? when we talk about pay rising or falling, we are usually talking about it in real terms, after we had ta ken talking about it in real terms, after we had taken account of inflation. what is going on next year, inflation, which is quite high at the moment, we'll start easing off quite soon. it will start not growing quite as quickly as it has been. but the cash value of pay will ease off at roughly the same pace. that means that pay after prices are taken into account, we'll pay, staying around to zero over the course of 2018. that's a lot lower than the 2% real growth we have been used to in the years before the financial crisis. you put a figure on that, the years before the financial crisis, how much worse off we are in real terms as compared to
where we were before the financial crisis hit? it depends whether you are looking at household incomes or pat’- are looking at household incomes or pay. we still have a weekly pay £15 a week lower than it was before the financial crisis hit. that leaves you in some reckoning thousands of pounds worse off as a household per year, compared to before the financial crisis. especially compared to where we would be if we had continued at the growth rate of the precrisis years and not gone into this long period of stagnation. 0ne one thing that is most striking about all of this, as you say, it will get deeper before it gets better. but the pay doesn't seem to better. but the pay doesn't seem to be responding in the ways the economic theorists think it should. we have employers saying we can't find enough workers with the right skills and yet somehow that is not translating into decent pay rises for people who have those skills
already in work at the moment. for people who have those skills already in work at the momentm for people who have those skills already in work at the moment. it is already in work at the moment. it is a conundrum with unemployment at such a low level, down at 4.3%, lower than it's been in 40 years. that pay isn't responding have some economists might expect. but the real long—term driver of pay is what's called productivity. that's the amount of output the economy is producing for each hour worked. that's been flat for the best part of ten years. that's the fundamental underlying reason why in the long—term, pay and growing as we would like. but there are bright spots on the horizon. in the latest data from productivity ticked up a bit. if that is sustained into next year, we can start to be a bit more optimistic about the prospects for workers' pay you. —— pay packet. ending ona workers' pay you. —— pay packet. ending on a high note, thank you. the headlines on bbc news: the first of a group of critically ill syrian children are allowed to leave a rebel held area of damascus.
motorists are being warned that snow and ice are causing travel disruption in england and wales. prince harry sets out how he views his role as a senior royal. he promises to remain above politics but shine a light on certain issues and causes. sport now and for a full round up, from the bbc sport centre, here's mark edwards. finally a bit of christmas cheer for england as former captain alastair cook made his first ashes century for almost seven years. the visitors finishing on top after day 2 of the fourth test. cook's knock helping england close on 192—2, after stuart broad had earlier returned his best figures of 2017 taking 4—51 to spark an australia collapse. patrick gearey was in melbourne for us. this wasn't the day we were expecting, we thought we would see steve smith at the mcg, the australian captain, make a huge score on a scorching day.
smith not been dismissed at this ground in a test match in three years. imagine everyone's surprise when smith played one onto his stumps after 30 minutes, giving tom curran his first test wicket and what a wicket. mitchell marsh went next in the same way to chris woakes. stuart broad and jimmy anderson, england. anderson, england's most successful bowling partnership of all time took charge. broad bowled with great skill for his four wickets. in answer to those who called for him to be dropped. australia were eventually all out for 327, losing their last seven wickets for 83 runs. in reply, england lost mark stoneman to a superb caught and bowled from nathan lyon. the greatest of all time, he is known as goat. the evening session was all about alastair cook. he scored his first 50 of the series and was dropped by steve smith on 66 and ended up scoring his century in the last over of the day. finished alongside the captain, joe root. australia frustrated in the sweltering heat.
it may be too little too late for the ashes but england have had their best day of the series so far. they are still fighting. we created quite a lot of pressure yesterday that we were rewarded with wickets. that we were rewarded with wickets today. we were very patient, yesterday. when it reversed a little bit, things could have gone slightly differently for us. today, we got lucky with a couple of chop ons and a couple of wickets. australia were disappointed probably, but we were delighted with them. it's been a pretty tough couple of weeks, really. but it makes playing and taking wickets very rewarding. vitaly mutko has stepped down from his role as chief organiser for next summer's world cup in russia to concentrate on government work. it's been a turbulent couple of months for russia's deputy prime minister, he temporarily left his post as the russian football union presidentjust two days ago.
this comes off the back of his life ban from the olympics which was handed out by the ioc at the start of december after he'd been accused of running a huge "state—sponsored" doping programme. record breakers manchester city show no sign of slowing down, they head to newcastle later tonight with an unprecedented 18th successive premier league victory in their sights. pep guardiola's side side looking to extend that domestic record, with the european record of 19, incidentally also held by guardiola when he was in charge of bayern munich, on the horizon. but even though newcastle are just one point outside the relegation zone and with just one win in ten games, he's approached this match as seriously as any other. since august, wwin a lot of games. that is why we are happy. 0ur lives are better when we win. it's simple, like that. but i'm not going to sleep thinking about it, that i am going to break a record. bayern munich time. it is nothing special. it is newcastle. i couldn't see them. now, in these three days,
christmas time, i am going to sit down with my staff's laptops and i will try to discover what they do. and keep our... keep our pace and intensity with the ball, that is our target. bath have been fined £60,000 for releasing taulupe faletau to play for wales in their autumn international against south africa. the match fell outside the official international window allowed by premiership rugby. bath say they understand the position but they're pushing for a resolution to the conflict between club and country schedules. that's all the sport for now. thank you. two people who died following a crash in sheffield have been named. lorraine stephenson and pc dave fields were both killed after the cars they were travelling in collided on christmas day. another man remains in a serious condition. the family of pc fields described him as a "loving husband and dad" and a "dedicated officer".
tesco has apologised after people complained turkeys they bought from them for christmas lunch were rotten or gone off. the traditional turkey was the centrepiece of tesco's christmas ad campaign this year, but the supermarket‘s social media feeds featured angry customers complaining their christmas meals had been ruined. the supermarket chain has apologised and promised to investigate. well, earlier a consumer rights expert, megan french, explained how customers should calculate the amount of compensation they are due, and how to go about making a claim. we have heard people saying their entire dinner was ruined because they used part of it to make the gravy, for example. it will be a case—by—case basis. it comes to being reasonable. adding up what you think it has cost you. any evidence you can add to prove that... if you happened to take any pictures of your christmas dinner, for example, showing the kind of trimmings you had, that kind of thing could help. any receipts showing the rest of your christmas dinner,
but don't be afraid to jot it all down and put it in writing to tesco, just exactly what impact this had. you can go via the online customer services with tesco. if you find that easier. write it all down. document exactly what happened. if you've got family come in, say how far they have travelled from. some people can find complaining a bit daunting. if you find it easier, sit down and write out that e—mail. write it out on the website, whatever suits you. if you are going into store, don't be afraid to take some notes, just so you remember all of the things you have been affected by. tesco says it will offer £75 each as a goodwill gesture. they said: how do you stop poachers
from devastating wildlife in remote parts of africa? one solution is military—style training and tactics. it's being used in the vulnerable state of chad. ——central african country of chad. zakouma national park has lost 90% of it elephants over the past 40 years, and when african parks took over there were less than 500 elephants left. alastair leithead travelled to the remote park where the population is finally recovering and tourists are now helping fund the conservation work. they were the herds heading for extinction. they were the herd heading for extinction. but the elephants of zakouma national park have made a dramatic recovery. translation: before, there used to be elephant carcasses everywhere . so what has been the difference, since african parks took over? translation: since african parks arrived here, we no longer see carcasses of elephants in the park. across the continent, a private, not—for—profit conservation group
called african parks believes it has the answer to saving africa's disappearing wildlife. and it's controversial. they are arming rangers and giving them military—style training. in some places, it's become a war against poachers. adoum allam is a sniper with fast response unit mamba number two. his father was killed by poachers in this park. he jumped at the chance to join. "it's a very dangerous job but i love doing it", he said. it's a good income. but it's also personal. this was zakouma, ten years ago. decades of poaching killed 90% of the park's elephants and many rangers as well. but, today, it's a much healthier picture. they haven't lost an elephant in two years or a ranger since 2012. and last year, the population
started to grow again. there were more than 20,000 elephants in this parkjust 40 years ago, but now there arejust over 500. what's encouraging, though, is that they've now got babies, they're reproducing, their numbers are starting to go up. and if the poachers can be kept at bay, the population is going to recover. this is the best way to counter raids from the heavily armed sudanese horsemen. the main perpetrators who've been poaching ivory here for centuries. but now, both sides have automatic weapons. and local communities are a key to success. schools are being built, kids are learning about conservation. villagers now often tip off the rangers, if poachers are seen nearby. african parks take on delegated management of protected areas in africa. normally where public sector has
failed, african parks will step in and, with donorfunding, will then manage protected areas. but eventually it should pay for itself. zakouma national park is now attracting high—end adventure tourists who cover one third of the park's budget. 0ther, marginal reserves in africa will never make money. animals have to be worth more alive than dead, notjust to rich westerners, but to local people as well. alastair leithead, bbc news, zakouma national park, in chad. the winner is looking anything like it is there at the moment. tomasz shaffernacker has all the details. some excitement and problems with the snow earlier on today that it was very much a short lived feature. tonight and tomorrow morning the biggest hazard is going to be the ice which will in some areas be quite extensive across the southern
half of the uk. especially with the snow early on. it will melt during the day and refreeze first thing. lots of clear whether tonight. some wintry showers in the north, some freezing fog in parts of northern ireland forecast early on thursday. in rural spots where we have snow lying around that could be lower than minus ten. in scotland. tomorrow, beautiful and clear for many of us. cold. some wintry showers in the north of scotland, maybe rain later in the day, getting into south—western parts of england. friday morning we could have some snow in the north.