U.S. Leaves Bagram Airfield, Exhausted Federal Firefighters: News You Need To Know
Good morning. Hope you're well on this Friday morning. We're following a number of developing stories as we head in to the weekend:
- Early this morning, American troops vacated the Bagram Airfield, the epicenter of military operations in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years.
- President Biden has pledged to raise pay for federal firefighters. Reporting reveals that the force faces staffing shortages and low morale.
- The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, discusses the U.S. response to humanitarian crises in Ethiopia and Syria.
- New data shows that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine offers strong protection against the delta variant.
- 🎧 On today's Up First, NPR's daily news podcast, a look at the charges brought against the Trump Organization and the implications of a Supreme Court ruling on voting rights.
— The Morning Edition live blog team
Emily Alfin Johnson, Rachel Treisman, Joe Hernandez, Nell Clark, Casey Noenickx and William Jones
Let's check in on two humanitarian crises in different parts of the world, and what the U.S. is doing to help. NPR's Noel King spoke to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Here's what she had to say:
Earlier this week, Ethiopia's government declared a temporary cease-fire with the Tigray People's Liberation Front after nearly eight months of a deadly civil war.
Thousands of civilians have been killed in the Tigray region since November, and — as NPR's Eyder Peralta has reported — more than 350,000 people are now living in famine conditions.
On the Biden administration's stance that war crimes are being committed in Ethiopia, an accusation that's been raised by groups including the U.N.'s refugee agency:
"We are assessing the situation on the ground. We know that war crimes have been committed, we know that serious violations of human rights have been committed, we know that sexual violence against women has occurred."
"I know that investigations are being completed, the human rights commission we're waiting for their report, but I think we have made very, very clear statements on the situation in Ethiopia that we do see war crimes being committed and we will be investigating who will be held accountable for those war crimes, and we will look for accountability."
Meanwhile, in the Middle East, millions of displaced Syrians rely on United Nations aid that comes through a single border crossing point in Turkey. Approval for the route is temporary, and the U.N. Security Council needs to authorize it to stay open past July 10.
The U.S. wants that crossing to stay open (and for others to be reinstated), but Russia — which has veto power on the council — has indicated it does not.
On how the U.S. plans to negotiate with Russia over the Syria-Turkey border crossing:
"We're negotiating in the security council to impress upon them how life-threatening closing the border is ... for millions of Syrians, this is their literal lifeline."
"We are hopeful that the Russians will see that it is not necessary to use their veto power in this particular case. The people of Syria need humanitarian assistance and it is our hope that the Russian government will hear not just the voices of the members of the security council, but they will hear the voices of millions of Syrians who will be calling upon the security council to act in this case.
Plus, later today we'll hear from Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield about American efforts to eradicate COVID-19. Make sure to follow NPR's Consider This wherever you get your podcasts to be notified when that conversation is live.