Hello, this is the global news podcast from the BBC World Service with reports and analysis from across the world. The latest news, seven days a week. BBC World Service podcasts are supported by advertising.
This is the Global News podcast from the BBC World Service. I'm Jonathan Savage. And at 14 hours GMT on Wednesday, the 24th of February, these are our main stories. A lifeline for the developing world. The vaccine sharing project. Kovács makes its first delivery, 600000 doses for Ghana also.
For us, it's great. It's a historic decision. In fact, an historic day for us Assyrians.
It's a historic day for justice and intelligence agent complicit in Syrian government. Crimes against humanity is jailed in Germany. It's the first decision of its kind. And why the prospect of holding the Olympics this summer is still concerning many people in Tokyo.
Also in this podcast, a Chinese court tells a man divorcing his wife how much backpay she deserves for years of keeping house. And it's 16 hours before he's rescued. And I bet that was probably the longest 16 hours in the world.
One man's remarkable tale of survival in the Pacific Ocean. Ghana has become the first nation in the world to receive coronavirus vaccines via the Global Distribution Initiative CORVAX, the UN and Shellback scheme was developed to ensure poorer countries are able to access supplies as wealthy nations have been accused of hoarding stocks. The 600000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India landed in the capital, Accra. The BBC's Thomas Nardy is there.
Ghana was chosen because Ghana is seen as a country which is ready to administer the vaccines. The country has been carrying out vaccination programs over the years and through a few years they've built a very solid infrastructure to be able to administer the first doses of the vaccines, frontline health workers that have been prioritized, as well as those with underlying health conditions, including those 50 years and above. Also frontline employees, members of the judiciary and then also the security services will also receive the vaccines during the initial stages of the pandemic.
The money to slow down the virus. But in December, there was general elections and also their Christmas festivities. Also because of the fact that a lot of people disregarded put course there was a surge in covid-19 cases and the country has now recorded over 80000 cases of the virus and sending it to the hospitals are now currently being overwhelmed with limited ICU facilities, which has been a major source of concern in this country.
Thomas Nardy in Accra. The contrast between the number of vaccines countries have ordered is vast. Canada, for example, has ordered enough doses to vaccinate its population five times over the UK, over a three and a half times. The African Union, however, has only secured enough shots to cover around a third of its population. I spoke to our global health correspondent, Naomi Grimly, and began by asking her, when it comes to vaccines, what's the overall situation for the world's poor countries?
The World Health Organization believes around 130 countries have yet to administer a single dose. And although it's good news that this new shipment, the first shipment from Kovács, has arrived in Accra, nevertheless, there's a great deal of concern that perhaps it's taken too long. It's been struggling, of course, with the problems that wealthy countries have been struggling with, which is the fact that global supply of these vaccines is incredibly constrained. And then on top of that, it's got to worry about the logistics.
Not every country will be as ready to administer vaccines as Ghana. Some have, you know, much weaker health care systems which have to be negotiated.
We've had numerous warnings from the show that wealthy nations are preventing poorer countries accessing vaccines. Are those warnings being heeded and being responded to?
I think there's certainly more of a realisation now than perhaps there was last year amongst the richer countries that they need to tackle this as a global pandemic because particularly if new variants emerge, it should concern us all. And last week, G7 leaders from the most industrialized countries in the world did pledge four point three billion dollars in money for Carax. But as Dr Tedros, who leads the World Health Organization, has been saying, money is of limited use if you don't actually pledge to donate excess vaccine supply.
And so far, very few countries are willing to put any number on that one end of the scale.
In the UK, there's a plan to have every adult receive a job by the end of July. What's the situation in the nations getting support from Kovács? When will they get jobs?
Well, we do know, to be honest, but there have been some estimates the Economist Intelligence Unit, for example, believes that around 80 countries won't be able to fully vaccinate mass vaccinate until at least 2024. So whereas most wealthy countries like the UK, as you say, plan to do it later this year for the poorest countries in the world, it could be, you know, two or three years off yet.
Now we Grimley, our global health correspondent, it's a groundbreaking prosecution which could have far reaching consequences. A former Syrian intelligence agent has been jailed in Germany for complicity in crimes against humanity.
Ahed Al Gharib arrested protesters in Syria who were then tortured and sometimes murdered. He said he'd been following orders because he was scared of being punished. The 44 year old has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison. And as we record this podcast, another more senior member of the Syrian intelligence service is about to go on trial. Anwar Alberini is the. And human rights lawyer representing some of the victims. It's a historic decision, in fact, an historic day for Syrians.
It's a historic day for justice in the world. The decision today clarified fight that many people not just committed crimes against humanity who facilitate, who support that will not give him an excuse to have impunity.
I've been speaking to our correspondent in Berlin, Damien McGuinness, about et.
Al Gharib during the start of the uprising in Syria, the peaceful protest that started in Damascus. He was sent out as a relatively low ranking intelligence officer.
He was told to round up peaceful protesters and then brought them back to a renowned jail in the center of the city where they were then tortured. This judgment is part of a broader trial involving, in fact, two accused men. The other accused is a more senior officer who is accused of overseeing the torture. So this is really the first the verdict of for him will be later this year. But this is really the first time that we've seen not only a verdicts for someone involved in war crimes in Syria, but also this is the very first trial that we've seen anywhere in the world for alleged war crimes and torture under Bashar al-Assad's al-Assad's regime in Syria right now.
So how did this case come to trial in Germany? It's a very unusual case because neither of the defendants nor any of the witnesses or people giving testimony, none of them are actually German. They are all Syrians. The fact that we have a large Syrian community here made up of refugees has meant that this has been a big debate over the past few years here in Germany. What in concrete terms happened was that these two accused men fled Syria. They came to Germany as asylum seekers.
They had defectors from Assad's regime there, more senior officer. He then approached German police saying that he was afraid for his life because he said that the secret Syrian secret services were after him. German police that investigated his case and prosecutors found that he had been accused of overseeing torture and another Syrian refugee had recognized on the street.
So he then came forward as a witness.
The verdict we've had today of the more junior officer was he was also an asylum seeker. So this case has been built, built by German prosecutors who are using a certain type of law whereby any country in the world can prosecute for war crimes and crimes against humanity. And that's why it's such an unusual case.
Damien McGuinness, our correspondent in Berlin, the US secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, has formally announced his country's intention to rejoin the UN Human Rights Council. Firstly, as an observer, the Trump administration withdrew in June 2013, calling it a cesspool of political bias from Geneva Immagine, Fox reports.
This was a humble but at the same time firm speech and Tony Blinken pointed to imperfections in the United States human rights record, systemic racism and economic discrimination. But he said the US would always strive to improve. And he promised to bring that energy back to the UN Human Rights Council, the council to needed improvement. He said the US remains unhappy about its focus on Israel.
Immagine, folks, the golfer Tiger Woods is in a stable condition in hospital in Los Angeles after being involved in a serious car crash on Tuesday. His vehicle swerved off a suburban road, hit a tree and rolled several times, then a bank. We found out more from CBS reporter Daniel Barcus, who's in Torrance, California, near the scene of the crash.
His team released a statement on Twitter on his Twitter page overnight that let us know that he is awake, responsive and recovering after what they say was a long surgical procedure. The statement on Twitter also saying that he had emergency surgery on his right leg and ankle and that they had to insert a rod into his tibia and then stabilize his foot and ankle with screws. What we do know is that that area is known for speeding and collisions and emergency responders actually had to pull woods out through the front windshield of that mangled SUV that it apparently careened off the road and then rolled over several times.
They do say right now, though, they have no evidence to believe that Tiger Woods was impaired in driving that vehicle. So it is still under investigation. But as of this moment, right now, it does look that speed could have been a factor. There's been an outpouring of support from everyone, from former President Barack Obama to other golf greats and then. For other professional athletes here in the States, that's because you have to realize Tiger Woods history here in the States and you also said internationally he was a trailblazer in the game of golf.
He was the youngest Masters champion ever. He was the first major championship winner of African or Asian heritage. So he has made history throughout his career. And there are a lot of people who are rooting for him and want to see him make a comeback.
Don Yabaki of CBS. The Olympics didn't happen in 2020 and some wonder if it's going to happen in 2021. But the woman newly appointed to run Tokyo's games says they are pressing ahead with plans to open on the 21st of July. But will spectators be allowed? And do citizens of Tokyo even want the games anymore?
Rupert Wingfield Hayes sent us this report from there. This is the sound of the special covid Ward at the St. Marianna Hospital, just south of Tokyo.
The last time I was here, nearly 10 months ago, Japan was in the midst of its first wave of the cold virus. Since then, the size of this unit has doubled and they've been through two more waves of the virus, the third and largest in late January. The head of the unit is Dr. Fujita.
Many months ago when the coronavirus and the patient is in the pink polar bear, two as a whole. And we cannot accept any patient because there are no beds at the time that we cannot accept even the other populations of have a heart attack. So we are very, very tough time.
Japan's hospitals are under huge strain. But one thing that has protected them and kept Japan's covid deaths relatively low has been closed borders. There's been virtually no international travel to Japan since last April. Despite that, the spokesman for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Committee, MASATAKA, says it is now full steam ahead for the opening of the delayed Olympics on July the 2013.
We have been able to gain massive expertise against this global pandemic compared to what we had last year. Today, we have absolutely in a better position.
The Olympic Committee still has some persuading to do because despite what Masataka says, Japanese people remain unconvinced.
covid is far from over and preparation to stop infection is not complete.
An iconic moment, and I don't think it's possible to hold Olympics this year. We don't know when the pandemic will end.
I will say I know it's about two hours drive north of the Tokyo Stadium on a chilly, windswept athletics ground.
A group of Olympic athletes are in morning training.
Lucia, Akun and Michael are what makes up the South Sudan Olympic team.
I have Olympic to be held because we are waiting for it for so long, one year and something. And we are far from our family. So we hope that should be held on July seven.
As we all now know, the key to ending the pandemic is the vaccines. When the phase of vaccine began rolling out in December, there was elation here in Japan that it would mean the Olympics could go ahead. But the Japanese government has taken months to reapproved the vaccine and the first injections began here just a few days ago. Professor Kenji Shibuya is an epidemiologist at King's College in London. He thinks time is now too short to get enough people immunized in Japan to safely open its borders for the Olympics.
I don't think it is manageable. First of all, Japan's government has not yet managed to suppress the kind covid surge, which is a big one. On top of that Bakshian rollout will be delayed substantially or Olympics will be really, really challenging.
At Coba University Hospital, Professor Kintaro Iwata is even more dismissive, totally ridiculous.
So the inviting audience from all over the world is completely said.
So will the Olympics go ahead? It's hard to say. The organizers say emphatically yes. The Japanese public emphatically know and the experts seem to think to do so would be an enormous gamble. Rupert Wingfield Hayes reporting from Tokyo.
And still to come in this edition of the Global News podcast, the first day was torturous, like 98 cars.
Second day, I moved more families and I moved cars. The third day was just monstrous.
The Texan good Samaritan who came to the rescue and his trusty pickup truck.
What price can you put on the years of housework a spouse has carried out during their marriage? Well, a Chinese court has ruled that a man must compensate the wife he was divorcing with money. The case is the first of its kind under a new marriage law, and it's triggered much activity on social media. Our China media analyst Kerry Allen told me what the wife in question had said in court.
She argued that her husband did not show that any housework or childcare responsibilities for their son. She took advantage of the new law that kicked in at the beginning of the year. The court ruled in her favor and decided that she was going to receive 50000 uet, which is around seven thousand dollars for the five years of unpaid labor as a housewife. This has been a huge talking point. It's made national news and tens of thousands of people have been talking about it on China's social media platforms like Sina Weibo, which is China's version of Facebook or Twitter.
A lot of people actually feel that the settlement doesn't go far enough. And there have been people saying that actually hiring a nanny to do the same amount of work would actually cost more than 50000 yuan. It's expected in China anyway. That husbands buy a house is a prerequisite to marriage so that they have to have a lot of money in a place like Beijing and she's going to receive around thousand U.N. a month. This is probably less than a month's salary.
People see this is as not a lot of money. It won't go too far from the husband. They think that she should have received a lot more.
Is this a totally new conversation or have you seen this kind of thing discussed before?
It's the first time I've seen it in a court situation. But in China, it's increasingly becoming expected that people pay what are known as breakup fees because China's got a huge gender imbalance. There are millions more men than women. It's largely expected that if a woman invests her time, four years with a boyfriend or partner, if they then break up, that she should be compensated for the amount of time that she spent with him. So I have seen previously cases where boyfriends have given their ex girlfriend substantial amounts of money for spending time with them so that they can get back on their feet and get back on the dating market.
And the other thing that you want to factor into this, I suppose, is the Chinese government's very keen on keeping families together.
It absolutely is. Yes. Divorce used to be something that people could do in China very, very quickly in this civil code that was introduced at the beginning of the year, actually introduced things like a cooling off period so that people could spend more time together considering maybe they shouldn't get divorced. So, yeah, China is trying to discourage divorce in general. And this is obviously going to send a message to a lot of potential husbands that if they are getting married and they later decide to divorce, there could be consequences.
Carrie Allen, our China media analyst, the World Diamond Council has warned its members to verify the origins of diamonds exported from the Central African Republic and neighboring countries. There are concerns that rebel groups are exploiting mines in areas under their control and using the profits to finance their uprising. Gillian Bradford reports.
Diamonds are one of the CIA's biggest exports, but many of its mines are now under the control of the rebel coalition that hold sway over much of the country. Exports have long been subject to the Kimberley Process, an initiative to stop the sale of blood diamonds. But dealers have now been warned to be extra vigilant when purchasing stones from the C.A.R. to ensure that the diamonds come from approved mines only. For now, the rebel advance has been checked, and the prime minister celebrated on Wednesday the recapture of the stronghold of the man accused of leading the uprising, the former president, Francois Bozizé.
Julian Bedford are Ghanaian footballer, has told the BBC he was duped out of over one million dollars while working for the enormously popular Egyptian Club Zamalek. The Cairo based Giants have won five African Champions League titles, but they could be handed a transfer ban by FIFA when it meets on Thursday to discuss the treatment of former player Benjamin A champion.
Pierce Edwards has the details.
Zamalek of Egypt is one of the most popular clubs in Africa and the Middle East, but not with Benjamina champion.
This is what we do to survive so they can treat people like Enuma in 2017.
Ghana's a champion, joined Zamalek on a four year deal.
I was very happy to join the club because if you have a chance to play Zamalek, you are a big player.
But right now, the Ghanaian is in an ugly dispute with the five time African champions. Firstly, Zmolek failed to pay his contract in full on time, he says. Then, when he joined fellow Egyptian side pet projects on a six month loan in 2018, he signed paperwork where he says he unknowingly waived his entire salary worth over a million dollars for the remainder of his time at Zamalek.
Nobody would do that. Nobody paid. Less than a year after joining Zmolek, a champ unilaterally terminated his contract with just cause, according to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which called the club's behavior both immoral and merciless in social world and as a professional player.
You can't be in that team almost three months or four months without getting paid. Automatically, if you try, you are free to go. In December, CAS ruled the Zamalek must pay a jump on nearly one point one million dollars. Just when it seemed he was about to receive his unpaid salaries and compensation for breach of contract. The club announced a deal with an agent saying the Ghanian has reportedly agreed to receive just 250000 dollars instead. But a champion says the agent has not represented him since 2018.
In fact, said Agent Nadira El-Sayed, a 1998 Africa Cup of Nations winner with Egypt is accused by a champion of falsifying papers that enabled him to deal with his former club on the Ghanians Sarposa behalf.
Just to be clear, is not your signature. Is the one that basically says that your give now there side exclusive rights to negotiate for you aren't. He can take 20 percent.
I have no idea with that. I have neither side says think that I left Egypt. I haven't met him. So where did that make him sit down with him, given that. I want to do this to encourage the other guys that they have the right to fight for whatever belongs to them. I believe I'll get my money and I'm sure they have to be punished.
Also, Alcide has told the BBC he's still the player's agent and that all the documents are official. Zamalek has failed to comment to date. A champion has not received the one point one million dollars he wants from Zamalek, nor even the cheque for 250000 dollars he does not want. On Thursday, FIFA's disciplinary committee is discussing the case with the possibility of a transfer ban on the table, given the club's refusal to pay a champion.
So far, it appears Edwards reporting next to an incredible tale of survival. An engineer who fell overboard in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and wasn't rescued for 16 hours has been telling his story. Charlie Gallagher told me more.
This experienced boat engineer, Avidan Paravant was on a routine supply run between New Zealand and the Picton Islands, which are a British overseas territory. And he's in the engine room. He's doing some work and he starts feeling really hot and dizzy. So he goes up to the deck to get some air. The next thing he remembers, he's in the water, so he thinks he probably fainted. And it sounds like a nightmare scenario so he can see the boat disappearing in the distance.
He can see the lights of the boat, but they're heading further and further away from him. So he manages to stay afloat for a couple of hours. This is in the darkness. Finally, the sun rises and he sees this black object bobbing around in the distance. So he just swims desperately towards it. And luckily for him, it's an old boy or Buie, depending on where in the world you're from. And he clings on to this desperately.
Meanwhile, the crew have no idea he's missing. It takes four hours for them to realise he's gone and then they work out where he last logged in and probably the time that he fell overboard and they turn the boat around. But it's 16 hours before he's rescued. And I bet that was probably the longest 16 hours in the world.
That's not a short amount of time to be bobbing around on the ocean. How is he know he's dehydrated and he's got severe sunburn. As you can probably imagine. One rescuer very kindly said that he looked 20 years older than he did before. His son says he started talking about gold as well and he'd never been particularly religious. But now he's talking about God a lot. And his son asked him, why didn't you take this boy back on board when he was rescued?
And he said, I wanted to leave it in the sea in case anyone else fell overboard and they needed it to help them, which is just so lovely. So I was thinking about what would I do if I fell overboard? I think I'd immediately panic. I mean, I fell off a paddle.
I once and I started screaming and this was off the coast of Spain.
So what would you do? I would fantasize that a Disney cruise ship was going to pick me up and transport me to a magic kingdom. So I think neither of us would last 16 hours. Definitely. No, no. Charlie Gallagher.
Finally on sticking with the rescue theme, a man in Texas has been praised after saving hundreds of people had been stuck in their cars in the ice and snow from the Arctic storm that hit last week. What started as helping one woman, a generous gesture in itself, snowballed into something bigger.
Ryan Civili from Austin used his pick up truck, which he lovingly calls the beast. In his rescues. He spoke to James Copnall.
I went to the gas station just to get some basic necessities for myself because everything is closed. I ran into somebody who slid into a ditch and I went to pull them out and fast and it was one person and I watched two more get stuck trying to get into to the convenience store. This just kept Domino all the way down the road. So I literally get to a point where I found 60 cars stuck in a ravine they couldn't get out of and it just kept growing.
And how are you able to help when they couldn't go anywhere? My truck is full of drive into doing it back. At least twelve thousand pounds is ridiculously heavy curb weight. And I used to be a big road avid specialist. I used to teach people how to take their trucks off road. So when I get out here and use for drive, I understand the difference between for high or low. And I have the proper gear like straps that are kinetic straps.
They flex, they don't just yank like a chain and know how to hook to people's cars, to the car up.
So you sound like the ideal man for the job. Tell us a bit about some of the ways people reacted, because some people were in quite difficult situations when you got to them.
Honestly, when I got there and I've said this before, I always put myself in other people's shoes. So when I see people stuck out there, they're calling 911 one. It's busy. There's no one answering. They're calling from Lyft, Uber taxis because no one's coming. You can see the fear and the panic in your eyes. I mean, can you imagine putting yourself in that situation if you're stuck? You can't go anywhere. Your wife's in the car, your kids are in the car, you're running out of gas.
There's no one who can save you. What do you do? You panic. So luckily, the first day I was out there, I had one. The guys that lives at the property I manage out there with me. And I had him out there kind of telling people, hey, this guy is telling you out, this guy's. Units, this guy sitting next to the roads aren't clear enough to pull anybody out, you have to do them in order to get them out in a sequence.
And it turned into almost a week's work, didn't it? I mean, you ended up helping hundreds of people.
Yes, we we counted at first because it was funny and kind of cute and we thought it was kind of a good thing. The first day was torturous for like ninety eight cars. A second day I moved more families and I moved cars. This is only like forty five. The third day was just monstrous. And on Thursday morning I got up and everything in my body hurts so bad I didn't think I could go anymore. And I was still trying.
And that morning people started calling me saying, hey, I've got a big truck, I'm going to offer it specialists, I've got straps, where do you need me? And it was the biggest blessing I could have ever asked for.
Ryan Civili, the truck driving Good Samaritan from Austin, Texas, speaking to James Copnall.
And that's all from us for now. But there will be an updated version of the Global News podcast later. If you want to comment on this edition or the topics we've covered. Send us an email. The address is Global Podcast at BBC, Dalziell Dot UK. The podcast was mixed by Jack Grace. Mark, the producer was Rajasthani and the editor is Karen Martin. I'm Jonathan Savage. Until next time. Goodbye. They discovered that I didn't have a uterus.
Life doesn't always turn out the way we're expecting. And when he told me that I couldn't have babies, everything just stop. But sometimes the human spirit turns out to be bigger than the challenges we face. Linda, what did you say when you heard about your sister's diagnosis? The first thing I said was you can have mine on the Outlook podcast. We bring you stories that are uplifting, moving, inspiring, and seeing my mom cry in the entire month with all that had been going on.
But when the plane doors close, she started to sob stories told by the people who lived through it. And from that day, I said to myself, you know what? I'm not invincible. I'm gonna try and stay alive. The Outlook podcast from the BBC World Service. I would just say to do it. I mean, what have you got to lose? Just search for BBC Outlook wherever you get your podcasts.