it will be available through may. keep it here, i'm richelle carey, the news continues from london. ♪ the u.n. delivers the first aid by air drop to the besieged syrian city of daraa zor. i'm laur -- lauren taylor live interest london. people get ready to go to the polls in iran in two elections. plus -- >> i'm phil lavelle in los angeles where we are now days away from the oscars, but it is who and what isn't nominated this year, that a lot of people
are talking about. find out why shortly. ♪ hello. we begin in syria where the u.n. says it has delivered the first air drop of aid to daraa zor. our diplomatic editor, james bayes is at the united nations in new york, and joins us live. do we have any more details, james? >> reporter: yes, we have been getting more details when this was announced to the u.n. security council. this is very important that this aid is getting to daraa zor, as you say a place effectively surrounded by isil. it's important that the humanitarian aid is getting in too, as part of the political process to try to encourage everyone this is seen as one of those items that could encourage
sides involved in the conflict to take part in the cessation of hostilities, which is supposed to take place from saturday.com mat cuss time. the announcement was made by the u.n.'s humanitarian chief, steven o'brien. >> earlier this morning a wfp plane dropped the first cargo of 21 tons of items into daraa zor. we have received initial reports that targets have landed as planned. >> and the humanitarian chief is also strongly critical of the syrian government. >> reporter: yes, he came out with stringing criticism of the syrian government saying they have been putting delays and bureaucracy in the way of delivering aid. he said the bureaucracy they put in place was quite staggering, and unacceptable we then heard
from the syrian ambassador to the united nations who deflected that criticism, saying that the humanitarian situation in syria was not as bad as yemen. and said the aid not getting through was the fault of terrorists. adding then have you ever seen a starving terrorist? >> james bayes thank you. staying with syria, russia says it has started ceasefire negotiations with rebel groups. the russian and syrian presidents had a phone conversation to talk about the deal which is aimed attending the country's civil war. the kremlin said assad confirmed his government is ready to assist with it. rory challands has the latest from moscow. >> reporter: it has been a very busy day of telephone diplomacy for vladimir putin.
remember, assad said he wanted to retake the whole country. russia was forced to tell him to shut up, and it does seem now like bashar al-assad at least on paper is pledging commitment to the u.s.-russia negotiated ceasefire. after that putin spoke to other leaders. the message from all of this seems to be to the united states and to the middle east region, that russia is a power broker and a force to be reckoned with. you get a real sense of cautious optimism coming out of the kremlin right now. i think they believe that they are on the cusp of achieving two of their main goals. the first was to shore up president bashar al-assad and prevent him from some sort of chaotic collapse. but the second goal was to
convince the united states that russia is essentially an equal partner, and needs to be treated with due respect in the middle east. the british government says there is disturbing evidence that syrian kurdish fighters are coordinated with the syrian government and russian air force. philip hammond says it has left him uneasy. the group has also taken advantage of the situation in aleppo to push rebels out of areas there. turkey has been bombing their positions as they close in on the key town of azaz. paul brennan has more now. >> reporter: syria's complex civil war has become even more complicated by the presence of isil both in syria and iraq, leaving combatants and their
international backers fighting on multiple fronts. the british foreign secretary has been briefing the u.k. parliament. there was praise for the resilience of kurdish peshmerga fighters in iraq, but syria, he says, is different. >> what we have seen is disturbing evidence of coordination between syrian kurdish forces, the syrian regime, and the russian air force, which is making us distinctly uneasy about the syrian kurd's role in this. >> reporter: the pkk is regarded by turkey and britain as a terrorist group. the united states military support for the group is problematic. >> they are for years now
fighting not just against isis, but also against al-nusra. because they besieged many kurdish places. >> reporter: one analyst says cooperation between assad's forces at the ypg occurs only where both sides happen to be fighting their common enemy, which is isil. but the relationship emphasizes the complex proxy war being fought in syria. >> you have multiple actors, multiple external actors who are trying to coordinate with actors on the ground. and you have very different objectives of what they are trying to achieve in syria. >> reporter: the cessation of hostilities expected this week could scarily be more fragile. paul brennan, al jazeera. ♪
final days of campaigning in iran where people will go to the polls on friday. there are two elections, one for parliament and one for the body that chooses the supreme leader. our correspondent andrew simmons is in tehran with the latest. >> reporter: at the end of the day, people are more concerned about the economy, what has happened in the light of the nuclear deal on july 14th, which was basically described as a break through for iran because of the sanctions lift, but we haven't seen the effects of the lifting of sanctions on the streets yet. so whether or not people will sway towards the reformists and the moderates, isn't clear. but one thing is certain, all of the complainers of all colors, of all persuasions are desperately trying to get people out to vote.
because these are the parliamentary elections, not the presidential elections. in 2013 there was a 72% turnout when the president was elected and of course this is a litmus test of his popularity. politicians in libya's internationally recognized parliament have yet to vote on the proposed new unity government. there, angry exchanges as mp's failed to agree on the vote to approve a unity government which would be backed by the u.n. libya has two rival governments one in tobruk and the other in tripoli, both supported by different armed fighters. libya's national army says it has pushed rebel fighters, including isil out of several areas in the eastern city of benghazi. at least ten people have been killed and at least 50 injured in the fighting. security forces are reportedly being assisted by french special
forces. south africans are braced for tax rises as the government tries to revive its economy. the foreign minister also promised to cut what he described as wasteful and corrupt government spending. tania page -- paige has more. >> reporter: economic growth is expected to slow to only 0.9%, public debt rising to 51%. the government says the global commodity slump is to blame. thanks that south africa exports, are simply not in demand. to plug the gap in revenue, the government says it is going to raise taxes on expenditures, things like alcohol, cigarettes, the fuel levy, and introduce a new sugar tax. it also wants to cut government spending. the foreign minister said there was far too much corruption, that the public sector was bloated, and there is going to be a freeze on new hiring in the
public sector. some good news for the students who stormed this parliament last year, demanding a cap on university fees, an extra billion dollars allocated to cover that shortfall after the president promised he had heard them that he would freeze fees and also a million dollars for drought relief. whether the foreign minister has done enough to avoid a ratings downgrade which would make it extremely difficult for south africa to borrow money, remains to be seen. kuwait is the latest country to ban its citizens from lebanon. riyadh has also urged its citizens to leave the country. last week saudi arabia decided to withdrawal about $4 million of military aid to lebanon. it also expressed concern that lebanon has not supported it enough against regional rival iran. the travel warning comes despite
attempts by the lebanese prime minister to reinstate his support from riyadh. let's talk to mohammed jamjoom. so why is all of this happening? >> reporter: i would first add we just heard in the last few minutes that qatar is the latest gcc country that is warning its citizens from traveling to lebanon now. really supporting the position of saudi arabia and the other gcc countries that have issued these travel warnings, trying to ensure that their citizens don't come to lebanon or if they are in lebanon leave as soon as possible. it is happening because essentially lebanon is one of the front lines in the proxy war that has been going on between saudi arabia and iran for dominance here. a lot of this goes back to last month, which is when the saudi embassy in iran was stormed.
that happened as a reaction to the execution of a prominent cleric in saudi arabia, the iranians were very upset about that, protesting that decision. after that you have saudi arabia cutting its diplomatic ties with iran. you saw tensions ratcheting up in the area, and the gcc countries, most of them have fallen in line behind saudi arabia in the position it has taken as a reaction to all of this. why lebanon right now in as i mentioned what happened last month in iran. of course in lebanon you have two very powerful political blocks one is sunni dominated, one is dominated by hezbollah, which is supported by iran. saudi arabia has been unhappy that lebanon has not supported saudi arabia more publicly. has not condemned what happened in iran. they are unhappy with the government here, and that hezbollah so dominates the politics of this country, and
because of that they have started cutting their support to lebanon. >> what has the reaction been in lebanon amongst the politicians and the average citizen? >> reporter: it is really falling along sectarian lines. lebanon is -- there are deep sectarian divisions in this country. so you see the sunni politicians are very publicly urging saudi arabia to reconsider its decision to not stop aiding the country with money to try to buy more weapons for the lebanese armed forces. we have seen the prime minister meeting with the saudi ambassador earlier today, and -- and public condemnations from these politicians of groups like hezbollah. then you have groups like hezbollah who have said they believe what the saudis are doing is because they are running out of money in this war
they are waging in yemen. so it's very divided and along sectarian lines. as far as the public, throughout the day, i have been speaking to citizens, and really, a lot of them say they are frustrated by the fact that this country seems to always be torn in this proxy battle between saudi arabia, and iran. they want to see the country flourish. the country hasn't had a president for two years now. the government seems to be in a permanent state of stay sis, and it is because of this proxy war going on. so they hope things can be cleared up. they hope lebanon can get to a more secure place and they are worried because of what is going on right now, and so many gulf countries seem to be pulling their support at least publicly from lebanon. >> thank you very much indeed. still ahead, devastation in
chooses that next supreme leader. and the finance minister of south africa is promising to cut what he calls wasteful and corrupt spending. searchers in fiji are struggling to reach people who were hit by a deadly cyclone over the weekend. al jazeera was the first television crew to reach one of the islands. >> reporter: the damage here is repeated in the villages dotted along the most line of this island. at least here you can see the basic structure of some of the buildings. you can see some of the dangers that people face. there are bits of corrugated iron hanging off of buildings likely to fall, and wiring hanging everywhere. and this used to be someone's
home. a living room of sorts, a kitchen, and you can see straight out to the trees, because the roof is totally gone. but let me show you the real force of these winds. that ship was mored more than 5 kilometers down the coast. quite incredible the force of wind that must have done that. and yet on this island, and it seems to be the case across fiji, people did on the whole manage to shelter, and that does explain why despite this level of destruction and the clear power of the wind, relatively few people died. austria has warned that the future of the e.u. is at stake if they can't stem the throw of refugees.
belgium has tightened its borders for fear of an influx of refugees. >> reporter: what you can see behind me is belgian police searching the back of a truck which has come from france. 60 kilometers down the road is the town of calais where the so-called jungle camp is. and the fear is if the jungle camp is closed, migrants will make their way down the road. the belgium police have been stepping up their presence in anticipation of aen evacuation in calais. in that has been put on hold for the moment. but on monday the belgians did arrest dozens of migrants near here. they believe they were headed northwards trying to get to great britain. the government has made it clear they want to avoid any kind of
jungle camp being set up on belgium territory at all costs. and they are saying hundreds more are being deployed in places like this. they say they are ready for any influx. two indian students accused of sedition have handed themselves over to police. the police say they chanted anti-india slogans during the protest against the hanging of a separatists from indian administered kashmir. >> reporter: there have been plenty of developments in the university students' case with now three of them arrested on sedition charges. the leader has now been in jail for ten days, and once again his bail hearing has been adjourned this time to the end of the month. this comes after police have changed their stance saying they will oppose it if he gets bail,
they say it is because they have new evidence and they want to interrogate him further with his fellow students. the other two have been holed up at they university campus for days saying they feared for their lives, but in the early hours they gave themselves up to police who had been waiting outside saying that while they are still worried about their security, they are now placing their faith in the judicial system. al jazeera has received documents showing that german telecom giant has sold surveillance equipment to a secret branch of the egyptian government. lawyer res lee reports. >> reporter: these documents cast a new light on the length the sisi government and the mubarak one before have gone to in order to protect themselves.
they demonstrate the existence of a secret arm of state called the trd. and the german national equipment has sold equipment to the trd. enabling them to listen to the land lines and mobile phones of the public at large. >> they are the run ones with the biggest budget in egypt for surveillance technologies, and they are the ones who are always looking for the next new technology, the more high-tech up to date technologies to conduct surveillance, of course from the perspective of western companies that are trying to sell new products, this is the obvious customer. >> reporter: the sales and surveillance they enable date back to before 2011 when mubarak was ousted as president, suggesting they weren't only facilitated to help clamp down
on descent after the arab spring. but all of the technology appears to have been useful to the government. this audio clip is between the son of the jailed morsi, and close friend in which they discuss what to do after hundreds of protesters were killed by egypt's security services in 2013. the clip was played on egyptian television. he and his father were arrested and jailed. his brother is convinced this technology helped the state to portray them and thousands of others as traitors. >> they tried to take personal information from their phones. now it becomes -- someone like -- for many activists now who are in egypt and trying to work in the fields of human rights, for example, or work in the fields of trying to -- any civil society actions, they have to take extreme security precautions because they know
the security services want to have surveillance on them. >> you have to hack your target. >> reporter: this revelation comes after an italian surveillance company was itself hacked and thousands of documents put in the public domain. hacking team had been selling the egyptian government malware to allow security teams to control people's electronic devices. no european companies can export this sort of surveillance equipment to egypt without the permit of their governments. a group of european politicians will call on germany and italy to explain why they think those sales to egypt were appropriate. >> we have a responsibility for our own companies here in europe. and those companies themselves accept that they are responsible for united nations guiding principals on human rights. and i have to say in this instance, it's very clear to me that those guidelines are being breached, and these exports are wrong.
>> hacking team pointed out that the sales are legal. it also claimed the surveillance equipment could help the west's fight terrorism. the other company said it sold the equipment before 2014, and therefore couldn't comment. there are only a few days to go before the oscars, but this year's ceremony is likely to be overshadowed by a lack of ethnic minorities. phil lavelle reports from los angeles. >> the door tonight has been opened. >> reporter: well it was for halle berry in 2004 the first and only african american best actress. but that door not even ajar. all nominees are white. there are no other races here. oscars so white that is the claim. it is the hashtag everyone here
is talking about. >> we'll continue fighting until we see more representative films coming out of hollywood. >> reporter: and it is overshadowing the biggest night. you have films like creed about a black boxer, but it's the white guy who is up for the academy award. similarly straight out of compton, and it is the white screen writers who are up for awards. in a year, only 28% of big roles went to non-white actors, and if that doesn't sound like very many, it was even worse behind the scenes, only 12% of directors got the job. which raises the question, are we talking about oscars so white here, or the city in general being too white. ben runs a theater group downtown. he is an industry veteran and says he knows what the route
cause of this problem is. >> race is a factor in this country. and it -- it permeates this country. look around. vrp the academy racist? >> no, i think they think there is a problem because of will smith and spike lee saying there is a problem. >> reporter: academy member has been making films for decades. he is white, and he is older like 94% of the other members at last count. here is his take. >> they don't hire. they honor people. you do good work, they know. you get nominated. if you don't do good work, you don't get nominated. but they don't hire or make those movies. so to take it out on the membership, i thought was wrong. >> reporter: the academy says it is going to double the number of female and ethnic minor members by 2020. the promise we are going to
lead, not wait for the industry to catch up. the question is how long will that really take? and just a quick reminder, you can catch up with all of the news we're covering by checking out our website. the address is aljazeera.com. and you can watch us live by clicking on the watch live icon. aljazeera.com. ♪ soon the country is going to start winning, winning, winning. [ cheers and applause ] >> donald trump makes it three in a row, snatching first place in the nevada caucuses. bernie sanders appeals to black voters in south carolina, and hopes to slow hillary clinton's march to super-tuesday. deadly storms roll through the southeast and the threat is not over. and investigating new cases of zika that could prove it is