Monthly Travel Risk Summary Report

Welcome to December

Ares Risk Management is here to help and support the travelling business community, keep you and your personnel safe while travelling – especially if your business takes you to some of the worlds at risk, crisis or conflict zones.

Before our Travel Trends & Risk Report, we’d like to remind you that when travelling abroad, even to countries which are considered “safe”, we live in a dangerous world. While conflict or terror attacks might not be prevalent in the country or city you are visiting, all countries and cities suffer from varying levels of crime. Be aware of the types of crime you might encounter.

We would also like to remind you that the weather may cause disruption to your travel plans. We also advise that you consider health issues and ensure that you are immunised (if need be) prior to travelling.

It is also worth noting that some over the counter and prescription medications which a legal and freely accessible in the UK and Europe might be considered contraband in other countries so please be sure that you are aware of the issues you may face when travelling abroad!

If you are travelling at any time this year and would like a more detailed country and regional risk assessment, before deciding whether you need the services of an International Executive Close Protection Team or not, please do not hesitate to contact us at Ares Risk Management.

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~ SETTING THE SCENE FOR DECEMBER  ~

In November,

  • Security forces in both Iraq and Iran brutally suppressed mass protests, with over 100 killed in both places; with a high risk of Iraq’s political instability leading to more violence in coming weeks.
  • In Syria, fighting escalated between Russian-backed government forces and rebels in the north-west.
  • There has been a standoff between Algeria’s authorities and protesters intensified as demonstrators turned up their calls to cancel December’s presidential polls.
  • Violence against civilians surged in DR Congo’s east and Guinea-Bissau’s run-off elections in a few weeks’ time could spark unrest.
  • In Burkina Faso and Mali, jihadists inflicted heavy losses on security forces and civilians.
  • In Tajikistan suspected ISIS militants reportedly attacked a border post in the south.
  • In Asia, the victory of Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka’s presidential polls sparked fears of ethnic polarisation and repression.
  • Political confrontation heightened in Somaliland, Somalia’s Galmudug state, Georgia and Nicaragua.
  • Bolivia’s crisis worsened, with security forces cracking down on protesters.
  • Tensions rose on the Korean peninsula after an apparent resumption of North Korean missile launches.
  • On a positive note, Bosnia named a prime minister after a thirteen-months hiatus.
  • Chad’s government and a community defence group in the north signed a peace deal.
  • Yemen’s government entered a power-sharing agreement with separatists to end hostilities in the south.

Weather Hazards & Natural Disasters

EARTHQUAKES There have been five earthquakes worldwide since the beginning of December.Papua New Guinea  – December 3, Magnitude 5.6.
To date there have been no reports of casualties or death and no subsequent tsunami alertsChilli – December 3, Magnitude 6.
The Arica Y Paricota region of Chilli felt the main force of the quake which has it’s epicentre 38 kilometres off the coast – to date there have been no reports of deaths or injuries. The tsunami warning which had been in place hours after the quake has since been withdrawn.

Guatamala – December 1, Magnitude 5.6.
Thankfully there have been no casualties reported as the quake occurred off-shore.

TROPICAL CYCLONES/HURRICANES/ TYPHOONS The Hurricane Season across the Caribbean/ Bahamas/Florida and Carolina’s/Mexico and Northern South American countries spans from the 1st June through to the end of November annually. Forecasters predict that 2019 will be one of the worst years for these weather events in the region.The Typhoon Season in Japan and Western Pacific spans from July to October.Cyclone Season – Southe Pacific runs annually from November 20 April.

Philippines, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands Nov 27 – December 4  – Tropical Cyclone KAMMURI a category 4 cyclone made landfall on December 3, with wind speeds of 210 – 270 Km per hour, Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes in the Philippines as Typhoon Kammuri hit Luzon, the country’s largest and most populous island. As well as high winds and torrential rains there is an increased risk of mudslides.

The Arabian Sea, Peninsular and Horn of Africa – December 4 – Tropical Cyclone Six is currently rated as a tropical storm with wind speeds of 65 Km per hour, it is located off the coast of Somalia and continue travelling towards the Horn of Africa. It is expected to make landfall on or around December 7th in the coastal regions of north Somalia – meanwhile, Cyclone Seven is forming in the eastern Arabian Sea and is travelling in a northerly direction towards southwestern coast of India. High winds and heavy rain is expected with the risk of land and mudslides.

FLOODS / LANDSLIDES Southeastern France 5 people died in Var due to severe weather-related events, including 3 rescue and emergency workers. More than 100 people were evacuated in Pertuis Municipality (Vaucluse Department), after the overflow of Eze river, and at least 55 people were evacuated in Mandelieu Municipality (Alpes-Maritimes) due to widespread flooding.
VOLCANOES Sicily – Mt Etna Flights to and within the Mediterranean are being disrupted by an eruption of Mount Etna in Sicily. Eurocontrol in Brussels says: “An eruption of volcano Etna has started. The height of the plume at the moment is up to FL140 [14,000 feet] and seems to be composed mainly by steam.“Code is red.”Air traffic in and out of Catania airport, which is just south of the volcano, is reduced due to the risk of volcanic ash.

“Aircraft operators are strongly recommended to closely monitor all relevant Notams [notices to air men],” says Eurocontrol.

DROUGHTS Southeastern Hymalays has been in the grip of drought for approx. 15 weeks. It is anticipated that this will have some minor impacts on agricultural communities however the wider population is not expected to be impacted.

Disease Alert

Overall there have been no NEW disease outbreaks or epidemics to report this month.

CHOLERA OUTBREAK: Nigeria | Cameroon | Ethiopia | Kenya | Tanzania| Zambia | Mozambique | India | Yemen | Burundi
DENGUE FEVER OUTBREAK: Honduras | Maldives | Thailand | Cambodia | Laos | Malasia | Nepal | Vietnam | Sri Lanka | Bangladesh | Philippines
EBOLA HEMORRHAGIC FEVER OUTBREAK: Rwanda | South Sudan | Burundi | Uganda | South Africa
LASSA FEVER OUTBREAK: Nigeria | Liberia | Sierra Leone | Guinea | Honduras
MALARIA EPIDEMIC: Burundi | Togo
MEASLES OUTBREAK:  Democratic Republic of Congo | South Sudan | Madagascar | Nigeria| South America | Ukraine | Philippines | UK
POLIO OUTBREAK: Afghanistan | Cameroon | Democratic Republic of Congo | Ethiopia | Islamic Republic of Iran | Mozambique | Niger | Nigeria | Pakistan | Papua New Guinea |Somalia | Philippines

Conflict Risk Alert

If you are travelling to any of the countries listed below – take extreme care and exercise maximum caution as these countries at very high risk of descending into conflict and or experiencing a deepening of pre-existing conflict. If travelling to the countries listed below specialist Hostile Environment Close Protection and armoured transport should be considered a must!

BURKINA FASO The death toll rose markedly from suspected jihadist attacks against civilians, officials and security forces mostly in east and north, and President Kaboré’s call for volunteers to help counter jihadist threat could lead to further violence against civilians in Dec.
GUINEAS-BISSAU On 24 Nov presidential election, former PMs Domingos Simoes Pereira and Umaro Sissoco Embaló came first and second with 40% and 28% of votes respectively and will contest second round planned for 29 Dec; tensions and violence could rise in coming weeks.Minor clashes involving party supporters or police broke out in several places including Bissorã in the north, Canchungo in the north-west and Empada in the south-west, and in neighbourhoods of capital Bissau.
IRAQ Security forces continued to brutally suppress protests against ruling elite leaving over 100 dead, pushing toll since early Oct over 400, and PM Mahdi resigned; political vacuum could lead to greater unrest in Dec.

Deteriorating situations

If you are travelling to any of the countries listed below – take extreme care and exercise maximum caution as these countries at very volatile and there is a high risk that with no to little notice the countries as a whole or regions within the countries could descend into open conflict.  Hostile Environment Close Protection specialists should be considered a must if you have no choice but to travel to these countries or regions within them!

BURKINA FASO See  Conflict Risk Alert above
The DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO In response to army’s offensive in the east against armed group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), militants killed about 100 civilians sparking protests; deadly attacks continued in Ituri in the northeast, and tensions rose between alliances of President Tshisekedi and former President Kabila.In Beni territory, North Kivu province in the east, after the army launched an offensive against ADF late Oct, troops captured several of its positions. In response, ADF upped attacks against civilians, leaving about 100 dead 1-27 Nov and thousands displaced. Angered by failure of security forces and UN mission (MONUSCO) to protect them, residents protested late Nov, setting fire to Beni town hall and storming MONUSCO facilities.Clashes between protesters and security forces, mainly in Beni, 23-26 Nov left two police officers and at least seven protesters dead. Tshisekedi 25 Nov decided to increase army presence in Beni territory and agreed to joint army-MONUSCO operations against ADF.

The situation continues to be significantly volatile and clashes between security forces and protesters along with the ensuing violence is set to continue through December.

MALI Jihadists intensified large-scale attacks on military inflicting heavy losses and fuelling further protests against govt and foreign forces, while intercommunal violence continued in the centre of the country. Militants of the jihadist group Islamic State in the Greater Sahara 1 Nov attacked the military base at Indelimane, Ménaka region near the border with Niger in the east, killing 54 soldiers;
SOMALIA Tensions rose between federal govt and local militia in Galmudug federal member state, while Al-Shabaab kept up the insurgency. The Federal Government has deployed additional troops to state capital Dhusamareb and on 25 Nov released timetable scheduling presidential elections for 17-23 Dec.Tensions, protests and civil unrest along with heightened insurgency could lead to more violent clashes and deaths in the run-up to the presidential elections
SOMALILAND Tensions rose between govt and opposition party Waddani over election delays, and Al-Shabaab for the first time briefly captured a village in Somaliland. Clashes over gold between two rival clans in late Nov left at least three dead near Waqdariya. Authorities assaulted and briefly detained two journalists covering traders’ protest in Hargeisa, and on Nov 18 the government closed a private television station and arrested its chief editor.
SRI LANKA The victory of former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa on 16 Nov presidential election, his appointment of controversial figures to govt and moves to increase surveillance and militarisation, prompted fears over a rise in political repression and ethnic tensions, and end of post-war reconciliation and transitional justice efforts. Gotabaya 22 Nov invoked Public Security Ordinance authorising the military to engage in civilian policing throughout the country.
KOREAN PENINSULA North Korea increased tensions with another round of what Japan said appeared to be missile launches 28 Nov, and threatened further launches, while relations between the U.S. and South Korea grew more strained over negotiations on cost-sharing for U.S. troop presence.North Korean missiles 28 Nov flew into the sea between Korean peninsula and Japan; Pyongyang threatened additional ballistic missiles would fly over Japan “in the not distant future”.Pyongyang has warned the U.S. would face “bigger threat and harsh suffering” if Kim Jong-un’s unilaterally-imposed end-2019 deadline is “ignored”, continuing pressure on U.S. to offer proposal on a nuclear deal. Pyongyang is also demanding U.S. and South Korea halt joint military drills and lift sanctions.
GEORGIA The government is facing a political crisis as thousands of people joined protests in Tbilisi and other cities during November leading to clashes between the police and govt supporters. Protests began after parliament failed to adopt legislation for a new electoral system that would allow the opposition to gain more parliamentary seats in the election scheduled for late 2020, breaking a promise by PM Ivanishvili following protests in June. In breakaway republic South Ossetia, the humanitarian impact of the ongoing closure of roads connecting it to Georgia-controlled territory worsened with the onset of winter, with thousands of ethnic Georgians in an area experiencing food shortages and lack of access to emergency health services. South Ossetia de facto authorities 9 Nov arrested well-known Georgian doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili and jailed him for two months for “illegal border crossing” after he entered the breakaway region to visit patient, prompting outrage in Tbilisi, where hundreds of doctors organised the strike.
TAJIKISTAN Authorities reported 20 alleged Islamic State (ISIS)-linked militants including at least one woman attacked Tajik border post in the south, 50km south-west of the capital and close to the border with Uzbekistan. Two security personnel and fifteen militants were killed in the subsequent crash, and five were arrested. According to official statements, attackers were mostly Tajik nationals with links to Islamic State-Khorasan Province, crossing from Afghanistan, although later information created some uncertainty over details of the attack. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack and claimed a number of security personnel had been killed.
BOLIVIA Political crisis following controversial general elections worsened with growing unrest and polarisation, and reports of 29 killed as security forces cracked down on protesters supporting former President Morales. Moves in late November to de-escalate tensions, amid worsening unrest over alleged electoral fraud. Organization of American States audit identified “serious” irregularities in 20 Oct election won by Morales, recommended re-run. Morales agreed and, under pressure from armed forces, resigned along with senior figures from the ruling Movement toward Socialism (MAS) party, accepting political asylum in Mexico.Protests and unrest intensified as Morales supporters expressed outrage over what they claimed was an anti-indigenous right-wing coup, meeting with a violent response from security forces.
NICARAGUA President Ortega’s govt intensified threats and attacks on political opponents and churches, despite mounting international pressure. Political tensions surged following the resignation of Bolivian President Morales 10 Nov (see Bolivia); Head of National Assembly and pro-govt trade unions condemned “fascist coup” that ousted Morales and called on Ortega govt supporters to mobilise and be on alert to combat “enemy” action.Govt increased crackdown on continuing protests, mostly small-scale protests in capital Managua by students, political opponents and hunger-striking mothers of political prisoners to request liberation of around 140 political detainees. Police detained at least thirteen people assisting hunger strikers in church. On 18 Nov attorney general accused sixteen people of illicitly carrying weapons. Hunger strikers eventually evacuated from church 22 Nov, in precarious health conditions. During the period Oct 30 – Nov 4, Police attacked several reporters covering protests.International condemnation continued, including from UN Human Rights chief and EU foreign policy chief. The USA imposed sanctions on three senior officials accused of human rights abuses, election fraud and corruption.

The civil and political climate continues to be tense, with increased protests and strikes likely which will no doubt intensify government crackdowns.

ALGERIA As political instability continued to harm the economy, parliament 14 Nov passed bill intended to facilitate foreign investment in the oil sector despite protests against it in Oct.Protesters intensified calls on govt to cancel presidential election planned for 12 Dec, and security forces hardened crackdown. Protests against ruling elite and planned poll continued in the capital Algiers twice a week. The number of protesters rose markedly 1 Nov, marking 65th anniversary of the beginning of independence war against France. Hundreds of thousands gathered in Algiers from across country calling for “new independence” and removal of army chief of staff Gaïd Salah.
IRAN A violent crackdown on protests over rising fuel prices led to deaths of over 100 demonstrators. The Government further breached 2015 nuclear deal. The rise in fuel prices on the 15th Nov sparked protests nationwide, which security forces sought to disperse forcibly.Amnesty International reported deaths of at least 161 protesters, on 29th November. The U.S. sanctioned Iran information minister following internet blackout during protests. President Rouhani announced Iran was going ahead with further violation of the nuclear deal.
IRAQ See  Conflict Risk Alert above
SYRIA Fighting intensified in the north-west between rebels and Russian-backed govt forces. In the northeast, a fragile ceasefire between Turkey and Kurdish-led forces held as Russia increased its presence there, and Israel launched retaliatory strikes against Syrian and Iranian targets in the south. In the north-west, Russian and govt forces continued the offensive in rebel-held parts of Idlib province killing over 50 civilians. Government airstrikes on displaced persons’ camp in Qah 20 Nov killed at least fifteen civilians.Fighting between Russian-backed govt forces and rebels in the south-east Idlib province 30 Nov left almost 100 combatants dead from both sides in most intense fighting since Aug ceasefire agreement.

Continued fighting is expected throughout the country in the course of December.

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