Monthly Travel Risk Summary Report

December 2020 – Travel Risk Summary

Welcome to December,

Ares Risk Management is here to help and support the travelling business community. We are here to provide you with the intelligence and threat trends which will 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.

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 types and levels of crime. Be aware of the types of crime you might encounter.

We would also like to remind you that the weather may disrupt your travel plans. We also advise that you consider health issues and ensure that you are immunised (if need be) before 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 check what medications are allowed and which are considered contraband.

If you are travelling at any time this year and would like a more detailed country and regional risk assessment, focused on your travel plans and itinerary 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.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

~ SETTING THE SCENE FOR DECEMBER  ~

Coronavirus (aka Covid-19, SARS-COV-2) has continued to keep the world in varying levels of disarray, “lockdown” and economic shrinkage. While some business sectors were slowly opening up, recent localised spikes in infection rates have led to the month-long “lockdown” in the UK, which ended on December 2nd, the country has now gone into tiered restrictions, which vary across the country. While lockdown measures were lifted across the travel industry in late-June and July, the November Lockdown has once again impacted the travel industry, however on a more positive note in early December 2020 the UK Government announced that Covid Vaccinations were scheduled for rollout in phases across the world with England leading the way; in light of this news many air carriers have announced that international travellers will need to produce evidence that they have been vaccinated for Covid-19 – this has led to conversations about a Covid Vaccine Passport – in the UK, this takes the form of a card, the size of a credit card which will record the date, and the batch number of the vaccine an individual has been given. As the Covid Vaccine to be effective requires two doses taken at 2 intervals with a 21 – 28 gap between the first vaccination and the second.

Talks amongst the international carriers suggest that in the short term, testing prior to boarding a flight will continue and only those with a negative test will be allowed to travel. The current expectation is that as the vaccination roll-out will be in phases and when bearing in mind that the latest medial advice suggests that it could take up to 2-months before a person who has been vaccinated will have immunity a return to increased freedom of movement isn’t expected till march-April 2021.

The UK government continues to advise UK  travellers essential journey’s only are allowed

The latest news on the Coronavirus can be found here:

  1. Government Travel Advice: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus
  2. UK Government – Coronavirus Advice: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
  3. NHS Coronavirus Advice: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Weather Hazards & Natural Disasters

EARTHQUAKES

In the first 9-days of December there have been four earthquakes to date. Two of the Earthquakes being oceanic, have had no effect on human life.

  • 3rd December 2020 - A magnitude 5 earthquake has struck Turkey's south eastern city of Siirt, according to Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority. Siirt is a majority-Kurdish town in eastern Turkey, close to the border with Syria and Iran. To date there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the quake.
  • 7th – 8th December 2020 – A sequence of quakes have rocked Chile and the Chilean boarder regions with Bolivia. The first of the quake on the 7th December had a recorded 4.3-magnitude and struck near Quillota, Provincia de Quillota, Region de Valparaiso, Chile. This was followed by a magnitude 5.0 quake near the coast of Coquimbo Region at around 04:07 (local time). On the 8th The epicentre was about 159km southwest of Illapel. Light shaking was felt through Coquimbo and Valparaiso regions along with the Santiago Metropolitan Region. So far there have been no reports of major damage or casualties, however light damange is possible in the affected areas and it could take several hours for authorities to conduct a comprehensive damage assessment especially in remote areas. It is expected that moderate to strong after-shocks are likely in the area in the coming days.

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.

The Typhoon Season in Japan and Western Pacific spans from July to October.

Cyclone Season – South Pacific runs annually from November to  April.

________________________________________________________

1st – 4th December 2020 -  India Sir Lanka

On the 2nd December Tropical storm, Burevi made landfall over the northern tip of Sri Lanka with maximum sustained winds of 74 Km/p/h and was forecast to weaken as it moved across north-west over northern Sri Lanka. More than 6000 people have been evacuated to Safety Centres. Some flash flooding has been reported in the districts of Killinochchi and Jaffna. Strong winds, heavy rain and storm surges have been forecast for northern Sri Lanka, Southern Tamil Nadu and southern Kerala.

7th – 9th December – Mauritius

Tropical Cyclone BONGOYO-20 is expected to have a low humanitarian impact based on the maximum sustained wind speed, exposed population and vulnerability. With sustained wind speeds ranging from 84 – 102 Km/p/h, high winds, heavy rain and storm surges are forecast.

8th – 9th December – Australia

Tropical Cyclone Three has formed in the southern Indian Ocean, Dec. 9. As of 0200 AWST, the storm's centre of circulation was approximately 317 km (197 miles) southeast of Christmas Island, Australia. Forecast models indicate will largely maintain its strength as a category-1 tropical cyclone equivalent storm as it tracks southeastward in the Indian Ocean over the coming days. The system would be given the name Imogen. The system is forecast to make landfall in Western Australia, Dec. 11, possibly near Port Hedland. Some uncertainty remains in the track and intensity forecast, and significant changes could occur in the coming days. Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has yet to issue warnings for the system, but likely will as it approaches Western Australia. Weather warnings could remain active even after the system's immediate threat has diminished, as some areas may still be highly susceptible to rain-induced hazards. The possibility of localized evacuations cannot be discounted if weather conditions prove particularly hazardous.

It is expected that Tropical Cyclone Three will bring heavy rainfall, strong winds, and rough seas to areas of Western Australia, beginning Dec. 10. Sustained heavy rainfall could trigger flooding in low-lying communities near streams, creeks, and rivers, as well as in urban areas with easily overwhelmed or a lack of storm water drainage systems. Sites located downstream of large reservoirs could experience flash flooding after relatively short periods of intense rainfall, especially in areas of Western Australia currently experiencing heavy rainfall from the antecedent tropical low. Rain-induced landslides cannot be discounted in steeply sloped terrains. Flooding could isolate some communities for several days. Coastal flooding and abnormally high tides are possible along Australia's western coast.

In addition to the heavy rain, flooding, and storm surge, the system may produce damaging wind gusts as it approaches landfall. Gusts reaching 90 kph (60 mph) are possible, especially in areas near the centre of circulation. Widespread and prolonged power outages due to uprooted trees and toppled utility lines are possible. In addition, there may be some disruption to transport and transportation systems leading to localised business disruption. Floodwaters and debris flows may render some bridges, rail networks, or roadways impassable, impacting overland travel in and around affected areas. Strong winds will pose a hazard to high-profile vehicles. Heavy rain and low visibility may trigger flight disruptions at regional airports including, but not limited to, those serving Broome (BME). Disruptions caused by inclement weather and resultant hazards, such as flooding, could persist well after conditions have improved.

FLOODING, LANDSLIDES, MUDSLIDES

Cyclonic activities have caused flooding, landslides and mudslides as described in the section above.

FOREST FIRE DANGERS

Wildfires in 2020 have raged out of control in California, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, Washington State, Montana, New Mexico, Texas, South Dakota and Idaho, while in as the bush fire season starts Australia, a catastrophic blasé have devastated Frazer Island which is off the mid-Queensland coast.

 

VOLCANOES

Indonesia - 27th November – 1st December 2020

There’s been quite a bit of volcanic activity in Indonesia, especially with a new eruption from Lewotolo beginning on 27th November with the largest eruption occurring on 29th November when an ash plume rose 4km above the summit. On Semeru, pyroclastic flows occurred on the 1st December, which had hundreds fleeing their homes to escape and 11 km pyroclastic flow.

La Réunion, France - 7th – 9th December 2020

This morning at around 07:15 (local time) it was reported that the effusive eruption of Piton de la Fournaise Volcano had stopped. The decrease in volcanic tremor and gas emissions have been recorded and are often synonymous with a decrease in surface activity.

At around 15:00 local time yesterday, the highest altitude fissure was the most active and produced continuous small lava fountains and the remaining two lower altitude fissures dropped in activity. A resumption of volcanic activity is not being ruled out at this time.

DROUGHTS

Nothing to report during the early part of December 2020

Disease Alert

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
The Corona Virus (aka Covid-19, and SARS-Cov-2) continues to plague the world affecting not only health but national and global economies … whereas in the early summer it seemed like the world was making some headway in reducing the rates of infection and subsequent deaths – November saw a spike in infection and death rates so the UK went into another lockdown which lasted till the 2nd of December, around this same time (2nd December) the UK government announced that the roll-out of a vaccination program, which it is expected will be replicated worldwide throughout 2021.

Global Covid Mapping 2019

CHOLERA OUTBREAK: Nigeria | Cameroon | Ethiopia | Kenya | Tanzania| Zambia | Mozambique | India | Yemen | Burundi
DENGUE FEVER OUTBREAK: Honduras | Maldives | Thailand | Cambodia | Laos | Malaysia | 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
BUBONIC/PNEUMONIC PLAGUE

At this time the disease is not making a resurgence. Rather, it never left circulation, instead sticking to areas where contact with animals and humans is commonplace.

China, Mongolia, USA, Africa, South America

Bubonic plague cases have seemingly made a resurgence amidst the calamitous backdrop of 2020, with several people now dead after contracting the ancient disease. The shutdown of Suji Xincun is the latest measure taken by authorities in the vicinity of Mongolia, which has seen the bulk of cases spread from contact with animals. The district of Damao Banner, in which the village resides, is on a level three alert for plague prevention in hopes to stem the potential tide of infections, caused by bites from bacteria-carrying fleas.

Civil Unrest

There has been little change in the causes of civil unrest across the world over the past month – between the rising pressure of the pandemic and economic hardship, increased unemployment, alleged, perceived and real police brutality and other social issues as they all come to the fore to create the “perfect storm” which new analysis suggests 37 countries worldwide will be particularly vulnerable to, including some European Countries.

Pre and post elections unrests are to be expected in the USA, Africa, Cyprus, Lithuania, Georgia, Bosnia, Romania, Moldovia, Checz Republic, are also to be expected.

USA The USA US named as ‘high risk’ country in the new Civil Unrest Index - protests jump 186%. In the post-election environment and with almost 48% of the US electorate disputing the election results many analysts predict that the USA is on the brink of a second Civil War, and while it is predicted that the civil will may not manifest for between 2 – 4 years,  the situation is the USA is very volatile and unpredictable.
EUROPE In a report which I highlighted as far back as July 2020, the EU is bracing itself for renewed civil unrest in the wake of Covid, the lockdowns, and the impacts of economic shrinkage across the EU Zone, and the impact of Brexit on Europe. In particular, as reported in some of the mainstream media, France’s Fishermen are particularly unhappy at the prospect of not being able to fish in UK waters, and it is likely that other EU countries which had some fishing right in the UK will also be much displeased.

Then, of course, there is the New Green deal which over the next two years will trigger significant social unrest across Northern Europe and America.

  In another report by  Verisk Maplecroft, it has been predicted that up to 40% of countries around the world will experience civil unrest in 2020, with 75 countries being vulnerable to flashpoints.

Conflict Risk Alert

The COVID-19 pandemic has not dampened the appetite for conflict risks in some of the most vulnerable of volatile countries in the world - UN calls for a unilateral cease-fire in regions which are at risk or in the grip of armed conflict was short-lived, and has generally failed. Many regions who were at risk or in the grip of political, economic, social and civil unrest over many months and in some cases years, have reverted to “business as usual” leading to escalations in conflict, violence, deaths and displacements.

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!

 

ARMENIA/ AZERBAIJAN
NAGORNO-KARABAKH

While there have been some minor improvements since the cease-fire at the end of November 2020, when Russian Peace-keeping forces entered the region and the Arminian population was forced to leave their homes, there have been reports of the murderous beating of an Arminian man who was out shopping for his community and skirmishes persist, with Amnesty International calling for the examination of 22 video’s which depict war-crime and extrajudicial killings – which leads us to believe that this war is far from over.
The CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC The top court in the Central African Republic (CAR) rejected on Thursday (3 Dec 2020) the candidacy of former President Francois Bozize in the Dec. 27 election being held despite security concerns because of fighting between rival militias.

Bozize planned to run against President Faustin-Archange Touadera. But the court said Bozize, 74, did not satisfy the “good morality” requirement for candidates because of an international warrant and U.N. sanctions against him for alleged assassinations, torture and other crimes. The court validated the candidacies of Touadera and 16 others, according to the order read by the court’s president.

Despite the risk of getting caught up in the fighting between rival militias, some 200, people returned from neighbouring Cameroon where they had been refugees to take part in the elections.

CAR has experienced an acute humanitarian crisis since Bozize’s overthrow, which has led to fighting between mainly Muslim and Christian militias. Vast swathes of the country remain under militia control.

ETHIOPIA In a development the United Nations calls “disturbing,” Ethiopia says it is returning thousands of refugees who ran from camps in its Tigray region as war swept through. The U.N. says Ethiopia has put the refugees on buses back to the border area with Eritrea, the country they originally fled.

 

The news comes as the United States says it believes Eritrean troops are active in Ethiopia, which it calls a “grave development.” A State Department spokesperson says that “we urge that any such troops be withdrawn immediately.”

Meanwhile, aid groups say four staffers have been killed in the fighting nearby. Despite the federal capture of Tigray late last month, the violent conflict continues with regional leader vowing to continue fighting.

YEMEN The armed conflict in Yemen has resulted in the largest humanitarian crisis in the world; and continues unabated. It is estimated that four civilians have been killed or injured daily and warnings have been issued that the violence across the country is once again escalating.

Global aid organisations said that rather than these agreements bringing an end to violence in Yemen, attacks on civilians were on the rise.

Meanwhile, the children of Yemen are condemned to sickness and famine caused by the war and exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, and what can only be described as bizarre, on the eastern edge of Yemen’s Shabwa governorate meets the Gulf of Aden a 65-villa resort on the shore, which had formally been a haven for Al Qaeda, the governor and owner of the engineering firm which is building the complex are now praying for tourists, saying there are fewer check-point in the area and a Zero Tolerance for conflict though they do admit that Mr the terror threat has not been entirely eradicated.

WESTERN SAHARA A forgotten conflict on the fringes of the Sahara desert is heating up – Often referred to as Africa's last colony, Western Sahara has come to the forefront of world news multiple times in the past few months. Almost 80 per cent of the territory has been administered by Morocco for about three decades, and as more time passes, the less hope there is for a UN referendum the Sahrawi people have been waiting for. Last month, the Polisario Front independence movement declared the 1991 ceasefire over after Moroccan forces and Polisario fighters clashed over a protest blocking a highway into Mauritania.

The territory has been the centre of clashes between independence fighters and Moroccan forces for decades, and despite being handed a small parcel of the territory, they have continued to fight for self-determination.

Deteriorating situations

Covid-19 has had a massive effect on countries in Africa and South America. Over the past 12-months, global data has revealed that poor people are at greater risk of Covid-19 than those from more affluent neighbourhoods /countries. This has been a particularly hard-blow to many impoverished 3rd-world countries. Covid-19 has served to underscore inequality at all levels within the Maslow Hierarchy globally. This has led to violent demonstration and the death of protests in some regions,  which only served to inflame the already volatile situation.

While travel restrictions are in place – it is unlikely that you will be able to travel to the world’s conflict zones, which in turn will cause problems in these countries as humanitarian aid dries up.

When the ability to travel to countries on the cusp or grip of war, we seriously recommend that you request a detailed country and regional risk assessment, as well as engaging the services of professional and experienced Hotile Close Protection Operators and where necessary the use of armoured vehicles.

AFRICA

ERITREA The missile attack by the Tigray People's Liberation Front on Eritrea in mid-November transformed an internal Ethiopian crisis into a transnational one. Amid escalating internal conflict between Ethiopia's northernmost province, Tigray, and the federal government, it was a stark reminder of a historical rivalry that continues to shape and reshape Ethiopia.

 

The rivalry between the Tigray People's Liberation Front and the movement which has governed Eritrea in all but name for the past 30 years – the Eritrean People's Liberation Front – goes back several decades.

 

In recent days and hour credible reports have been emerging of Eritrean Military’s involvement in the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region, effectively helping Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government battle a rebellious northern force. A claim that both nations deny, yet video footage on a number of media outlet shows that the denials are hollow.

ETHIOPIA See “Conflict Risk” Above and Eritrea in the previous section
SOMALIA Somalia has suspended the visa-on-arrival plan for Kenyans, with travellers now required to apply for permits at the Somali embassy in Nairobi, as the relationship between the two nations continues to be strained. On the 10th December the Federal Government of Somalia, in partnership with the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), conducted an airstrike against anal-Shabaab explosives factory and storage facility in the vicinity of Jilib.

Initial assessments indicate that the airstrike killed 10 al-Shabaab
militants. These facilities have a history of producing explosives for al-Shabaab suicide attacks.

 

The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. AFRICOM are said to take great measures to prevent civilian casualties in the fight against the terrorist group and investigate each reported allegation fully. At this time, no civilians are assessed to have been killed or injured in the attack. The efforts we take to protect and safeguard civilians starkly contrast with the indiscriminate attacks that al-Shabaab regularly conducts against the
civilian populace of Somalia.

 

Al-Shabaab leadership has expressed its primary desire is to conduct attacks not just in East Africa, but against international and U.S. interests across the globe. The Federal Government of Somalia, with international support, maintains persistent pressure on al-Shabaab to contain the group’s ambitions to conduct attacks within and beyond Somalia’s borders.

UGANDA Bobi Wine, the Ugandan singer and presidential candidate, suspended his campaign on Tuesday after members of his campaign team were injured and his car shot at during clashes between security personnel and his supporters.

The developments were the latest in escalating violence in Uganda as authorities crackdown on supporters of 38-year-old Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi.

Bobi Wine is seeking to end the decades-long rule of 76-year-old President Yoweri Museveni in an election scheduled for January 14.

Last month, 54 people were killed, as police and military battled to quell riots in multiple cities that erupted after Bobi Wine was arrested for alleged violation of anti-coronavirus rules.

MOZAMBIQUE Reports coming out of Mozambique on the 9th December reveal that Islamist militants have attacked and occupied a northern Mozambican village in their closest raid yet to a giant gas project.

 

Jihadists launch an assault late Monday (7th Dec) on the village of Mute, located about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the Afungi peninsula — the centre of a multi-billion-dollar scheme to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Cabo Delgado province. The attackers targeted government soldiers in the village and torched homes.

 

Mute lies in a buffer zone between the gas project and the jihadist-controlled port of Mocimboa da Praia. The attack has raised concerns about security at the Afungi peninsula, where the French energy major Total and the United States’ Exxon Mobil are among the investors.

 

Jihadists have stepped up attacks in recent months in a declared campaign to create a caliphate in the gas-rich region. Violence has claimed more than 2,300 lives since October 2017, while government sources say that at least 500,000 people have fled their homes.

WESTERN SAHARA See “Conflict Risk” Above

 CENTRAL ASIA/ASIA/INDIA

KASHMIR At least five civilians were injured on Wednesday in a grenade explosion at the main market in Singhpora neighbourhood of Pattan in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

The incident came on the day three Al-Badr militants were killed in an encounter in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Al-Badr was allegedly formed by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence in 1998 and operates from the Jammu and Kashmir region. A civilian was also injured in the gunfight between the militants and the security forces.

Wednesday’s attacks were the latest in a series of such incidents in Jammu and Kashmir. On December 6, a police officer and a civilian were injured in cross-firing after an encounter broke out between militants and security forces in Srinagar.

On December 4, unidentified assailants shot at a candidate for the ongoing District Development Council polls at Sagam Kokernag area in Anantnag district during the second phase of voting. Anees-ul-Islam Ganie was contesting as an Independent from the Sagam constituency in Anantnag.

This is all set against the backdrop of escalating violence in the Control Line between India and Pakistan, where towards the end of last month, Inda suffered its highest monthly casualty toll since April

SOUTH AMERICA

GUATAMALA Furious protests in Guatemala have forced the government to abandon a budget that put big business first and lined the pockets of government officials.

The government has since said that the budget was misreported and did include money for hospitals and education.

But protesters are not convinced. They are continuing the fight, saying that they will not stop until president Alejandro Giammattei resigns from office.

“We are demanding that they respect our rights and that all those corrupt politicians in Congress leave,” said student Maria Fernanda Saldana in Guatemala city. “The only thing they have done is to rob our money.”

This is the second mass demonstration which saw demonstrator set fire to the congress building in late November over cust to Health and Education

 

PERU In the space of a single week, Peruvians had three different presidents. In fact, Peru’s highest office appears to be one of the great poisoned political chalices of our time: since 1985 all but two of those who claimed it have been impeached, imprisoned or investigated for criminal offences.

 

Civil unrest was sparked when workers from the Doe Run Peru mine complex joined a growing group of farmworkers in blocking major highways throughout the Andean nation, ratcheting up pressure on newly appointed interim President Francisco Sagasti.

Peru has also found itself needing to defend its waters from a vast fleet of Chinese boats is sailing around the waters off Latin America, accused of illegal fishing and threatening the rich biological diversity of the South Pacific.

Hundreds of vessels have spent weeks trawling for stocks, in a region which is considered one of the world’s most biodiverse marine areas.

Illegal fishing has become a highly lucrative criminal activity, racking up revenues in the tens of billions of pounds.

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.

Finally, we’d like to wish you a safe and COVID-19 free December

Leave a Reply