Monthly Travel Safety Report

July 2020 – Travel Risk Report

Welcome to July,

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 JULY  ~

Coronavirus (aka Covid-19) continued to keep the world at varying levels of on lockdown. In the main, the global population is receiving mixed messages regarding whether to continue to work from home or whether we can return to their former work locations.

Here in the UK, we have seen further relaxation of the rule, with the sections of the hospitality industry, and non-essential retail opening for business on the 4th of July.

The travel industry started to re-open on the 15th June, with flights becoming available, albeit, at reduced levels. The need for visitors to the UK to self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival has been lifted. Visitors from certain countries, the USA being just on, continue to be banned from visiting the UK due to the ongoing high levels of Covid infection within those countries.

The UK government continues to advise travellers that if they must travel – that travel should be for essential journey’s only.

In a survey by the International Air Transport Association survey found 40% of recent travellers anticipate waiting for at least 6-months after the virus is contained before flying again. With budget carrier EasyJet Plc is among those planning to keep the middle seats empty, at least initially, to reassure customers about personal spacing, while Korean Air Lines Co., have issued cabin crew with goggles, masks, gloves and protective gowns.

The main takeaway for this week is that we’re about to see a lot of changes, and all signs point to more easing of travel rule for visitors to and from the UK.

This month we have also compiled a supplementary list of the places where you may be able to travel to – we also recommend that you check with your Travel Management Company and/or Agency for a clearer perspective of available flights, as the reopening of the Aviation Industry is very fluid and subject to rapid change.

The latest news on the Coronavirus can be found here:

  1. UK Government – Coronavirus Advice: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
  2. NHS Coronavirus Advice: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Weather Hazards & Natural Disasters

EARTHQUAKES

INDONESIA 5th July 2020
Magnitude 5.3

A 5.3-magnitude earthquake had struck Blitar District in East Java Province on Sunday at around 02.09 a.m. local time but it did not potentially trigger a tsunami.

The earthquakes' epicenter was located at about 129 kilometers away from the southeast of Blitar at a depth of 79 kilometers.

The tremors of the quake that jolted the town where the grave of Indonesia's founding father Soekarno is situated were also felt by those in the districts of Karangkates, Trenggalek, Nganjuk, Pacitan, and Jember in East Java Province.
The tremors could also be felt by those residing in several areas of Yogyakarta and Central Java Provinces, including Kulonprogo, Bantul, Cilacap, and Wonogiri.
Located on the Circum-Pacific Belt, also called the Ring of Fire, the meeting points of several tectonic plates where frequent volcanic and seismic activities occur, Indonesia is susceptible to natural disasters, including earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
There are currently no reports of casualties or damage to infrastructure, however, Indonesia has seen a significant increase in seismic activity with over 2000 recorded quakes, 279 of which occurred in February 2020.

USA 5th July 2020

Magnitude 5.5

Earlier today an oceanic quake hit off the southern coast of Alaska. The quakes’ epicenter was at a depth of 8Km. As this is a sparsely populated area, with the nearest settlements some 100Km from the epicenter there have been no reports of damage or disruption in the affected area.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA 4th July 2020

Magnitude: 5.6

An oceanic earthquake was reported to have struck off the southern tip of Papua New Guinea midway between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands – at a depth of 10Km. Thankfully this quake didn’t trigger a tsunami alert and current reports indicate that there have been no casualties or damage to local infrastructure and housing.

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.

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

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

BERMUDA Cyclone Five2020
Currently rated a Tropical depression.
Tropical Depression Five formed in the Atlantic about 300 miles west-southwest of Bermuda on Saturday, 4th July 2020, according to the USA National Hurricane Center, and is currently not expected to impact Louisiana. If named, it could set the record for the earliest fifth named storm during hurricane season and would be called Edouard.

Flooding, Landslides, Mudslides

Japan Seven people were killed and four missing due to massive flooding triggered by torrential rain in the southwestern Japanese prefectures of Kumamoto and Kagoshima on Sunday 5th July, Xinhua news agency reported citing local media.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) raised heavy rain warnings in many parts of the prefectures to the highest level on Saturday morning, the first time it has issued such high alerts for the two prefectures. According to the agency, Amakusa in Kumamoto Prefecture received record precipitation of 98 mm per hour.

About 203,200 residents in the two prefectures were asked to take shelter. In 17 municipalities in Kumamoto, 109 shelters were opened to house at least 871 evacuees.

Due to extensive flooding along the Kuma River in Kumamoto, the prefectural government asked for the dispatch of Ground Self-Defense Force personnel for disaster relief work. Rescuers struggled to reach the hard-hit areas along the river which broke its banks at several locations on early Saturday.

VOLCANOES

No new volcanic eruptions to report during early July.

DROUGHTS

USA The Southern Great Plans of the USA have been experiencing drought conditions for approx., 6-weeks. This has had a minor impact on agriculture, however, poses no danger for human habitation.

Disease Alert

CORONAVIRUS (Corvid-19)

Continues to dominate all global newsmedia outlets as some countries slowly start the return to normality, while others such as Brazil become epicentres of infection and death in their regions.

 

Africa
Algeria | Benin | Botswana | Burkina Faso | Burundi | Cabo Verde | Cameroon | Central African Republic | Chad | Congo | Equatorial Guinea | Eswatini |Democratic Republic of Congo | Ethiopia | Gabon | Gambia | Ghana | Guinea | Guinea-Bissau | Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) | Kenya | Liberia | Malawi | Mali | Mauritania | Mozambique | Namibia | Niger | Nigeria | Rwanda | Senegal | Seychelles | Sierra Leone | Somalia | South Africa | Sudan | Tanzania | Togo | Zambia | Zimbabwe

Americas
Anguilla | Antigua and Barbuda | Argentina | Barbados | Belize | Bolivia | Brazil | British Virgin Islands | Canada | Chile | Colombia | Costa Rica | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Ecuador | El Salvador | French Guiana | Guadalupe | Guatemala | Guyana | Haiti | Honduras | Jamaica | Martinique | Mexico | Nicaragua | Panama | Paraguay | Peru | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Suriname | Trinidad and Tobago | Uruguay | United States

Eastern Mediterranean
Afghanistan | Bahrain | Djibouti | Egypt | Iran | Iraq | Jordan | Kuwait | Lebanon | Libya | Morocco | Oman | Pakistan | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Syria | Tunisia | United Arab Emirates | Yemen

Europe
Albania | Andorra | Armenia | Austria | Azerbaijan | Belarus | Belgium | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Bulgaria | Croatia | Cyprus | Czechia | Denmark | Estonia | Finland | France | Georgia | Germany | Gibraltar | Greece | Holy City (Vatican City) | Hungary | Iceland | Ireland | Israel | Italy | Kazakhstan | Kyrgyzstan | Latvia | Liechtenstein | Lithuania | Luxembourg | Malta | Moldova | Monaco | Montenegro | Netherlands | North Macedonia | Norway | Poland | Portugal | Romania | Russia | San Marino | Serbia | Slovakia | Slovenia | Spain | Sweden | Switzerland | Turkey | Ukraine | United Kingdom

South-East Asia
Bangladesh | Bhutan | India | Indonesia | Maldives | Nepal  Sri Lanka | Thailand

Western Pacific
Australia | Brunei Darussalam | Cambodia | China | Fiji | Hong Kong | Japan | Laos | Macau | Malaysia | Mongolia | New Zealand | Philippines | Republic of Korea | Singapore Taiwan | Vietnam

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

GENERAL TRAVEL ADVICE

Throughout June and early July travel restrictions have slowly and cautiously been lifted – we anticipate that unless there is a second spike in infection during July, we will see continued relaxation of travel rules and an increase in the number of countries which will allow UK visitors to enter their countries. Similarly and as previously stated the number of EU countries allowing UK visitors to enter their countries is also slowly and cautiously starting to open up.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office continues to advise that people avoid all international travel unless the travel is essential and/or necessary!

The list of countries where UK visitor will be able to travel to is growing on an almost daily basis, so we advise that you speak to your travel agent or Travel Management Company for a more detailed list of which countries allowing entry to visit UK visitors and the terms and conditions of any restrictions and quarantines the country you may choose to visit may have in place.

Civil Unrest

USA The protests, demonstrations, riots, and stand-offs between police and civilians in the aftermath of the unlawful death of George Floyd on the 25th of May 2020, have continued throughout June and now into early July, with reports of demonstrations and stand-offs in Seattle, Portland Oregon,  and Tampa Florid.

There have also been anti-Trump demonstrations in New York, where demonstrators have marched along Columbus Circle to Trump Tower and as I type, demonstrators were seen moving to Time Square.

A group of protesters led by activists of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA set fire to US flags during a Fourth of July demonstration in front of the White House in Washington DC on Saturday.

With US Presidential Elections in November and the USA still struggling to slow the Covid Pandemic within the USA, this is a very turbulent time where protests and demonstrations can materialise very quickly and without much warning.

UK While the Black Lives Matter protests have seemed to diminish somewhat in recent days, the mood is far from calm. Over the weekend the police found themselves pelted with bricks and other projectiles as they tried to break-up an illegal House Party in West London which left seven police officers injured.
HONG KONG Sweeping national security law imposed on Hong Kong means changes are happening in the city and the road ahead will be rocky. As part of the sweeping changes, books by pro-democracy activists have disappeared from the shelves in Libraries and book shops.

In recent days, as China took a victory lap over the law it imposed on the city Tuesday, (30th June 2020) the defiant masses who once filled Hong Kong’s streets in protest have largely gone quiet. Sticky notes that had plastered the walls of pro-democracy businesses vanished, taken down by owners suddenly fearful of the words scribbled on them. Parents whispered about whether to stop their children from singing a popular protest song, while activists devised coded ways to express now-dangerous ideas.

Seemingly overnight, Hong Kong has been visibly and viscerally changed, its more than seven million people left to navigate what the law would mean to their lives. The territory’s distinct culture of political activism and free speech, at times brazenly directed at China’s ruling Communist Party, appeared to be have been criminalised under the new laws.

The security law criminalises “subversion” of the government, a crime that the police say encompasses speech such as political slogans. On Friday (3rd July) hundreds of people including a 15-year old girl were arrested for waving a flag which the wording “Liberate Hong Kong”.

1st of July celebrations which are normally held annually to mark the handover of Hong Kong from British Rule to Chinese Rule, and which in the past were attended by hundreds of pro-democracy activists were banned.

GERMANY 4th July

Dozens of pro-Kurdish demonstrators marched in Frankfurt on Saturday and protested against Turkish military operations in northern Syria and against German arms exports.

Protesters were filmed with banners declaring support for the northeastern Syrian regions of Rojava and Senegal as well as denouncing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The protest came two days after the official visit of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Berlin. Germany has the largest Kurdish population in Europe, with an estimated one million Kurds living in the country.

Conflict Risk Alert

Covid-19 has and continues to have a major impact on Conflict Zones across the world. While the UN calls for a unilateral cease-fire in regions which are at risk or in the grip of armed conflict was short-lived. 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!

 

ISRAEL/PALESTINE Clashes continued in occupied territories. There have been reports of Molotov cocktails attack towards Israeli settlers vehicle travelling on Route 60, in the vicinity of Ofra Settlement entrance, NW Ramallah City. Meanwhile reports in Gaza now claim that the Hamas navy force has closed the fishing zone entirely, with no reason given.
All the while tensions between Israeli govt and Palestinian Authority (PA) remained high and could escalate further in July amid possible Israeli annexation of portions of the West Bank.
LYBIA Turkey’s military support for Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) in the battle for the capital Tripoli has seen as  “chaotic and largely failed”. “Much of the effort by the GNA appears to have been accomplished without major fighting and there are hints of a secret deal or some kind of compromise that has been made by the backers of both Haftar and the GNA.

Turkey and Qatar have thrown their support behind the Tripoli-based GNA, while the Haftar-led Libyan National Army (LNA) is backed by Russia, along with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and France.

It has been reported that the front line has shifted eastward around the strategic city of Sirte, raising the risk of escalation there in coming weeks. Meanwhile, political negotiations remained stalled.

Deteriorating situations

Covid-19 has had a massive effect on countries in Africa and South America. Over the past 3-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

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has put a lot of poor countries in the developing world under great pressure – there has been widespread demonstration activity, particularly centred on inadequate domestic distribution of food and medical aid.

Blue Nile Delta: Talks between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan regarding the overfilling and operation of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Blue Nile river resumed but soon faltered. In the past, this has led to skirmished in the border regions. With the talks currently stalled, skirmishing and fighting could likely resume in the area.

In Mali, the political crisis escalated after tens of thousands of people demonstrated against President Keïta. Meanwhile, authorities faced new allegations of extrajudicial killings amid persistent jihadist and intercommunal violence in the centre and north of the country, and on the 4th July, unidentified armed men massacred 31 civilians in simultaneous attacks on several Mali villages this week, then killed nine soldiers responding to the assault as violence surges in the country's conflict-wracked centre. 

In Eritrea, amid COVID-19 pandemic, the Eritrean Government has been accused of deliberately starving ethnic minority, while tensions with Yemen increased over disputed Hanish islands.

Ethiopia,  in the aftermath of the killing of Hachalu Hundessa, a very popular ethnic Oromo signer, deadly has left at least 166 people dead, officials say. A top police chief said 145 civilians and 11 security personnel died in Oromia region alone. Ten people have been killed in the capital Addis Ababa. Hachalu, 34, was killed on Monday, sparking unrest that spread from Oromia where he was seen as a hero. Meanwhile, tensions between the federal government and the Tigray Region have been heightened over the electoral calendar.

Cote d'Ivoire, Jihadist group launched the deadliest attack in the country since 2016. Tensions are likely to increase between disparate political factions within the country as preparation for presidential election planned for Oct continued, and amid the surge in reported COVID-19 cases, the government reintroduced some restrictions, including the prohibition of gatherings of over 50 people in the economic capital Abidjan, and extended closure of borders and state of emergency until the end of the month.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

Korean Peninsular, Inter-Korean tensions significantly rose as Pyongyang increased pressure on Seoul, demolished liaison office near the border and threatened military action. Its been reported that the economic situation in the Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea (DPRK) continued to deteriorate, as its border which China is closed, while on Friday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended a Workers' Party politburo meeting focused on COVID19. In the past few days, South Korea is closely monitoring North Korea in coordination with the United States after media reports that North Korea is building a replica of the South's presidential office for a possible assault drill; and earlier today, (5 July 2020) North Korea is reported to have said that it sees it unnecessary to resume dialogue with the US.

Taiwan Strait Amid concerns over controversial new Chinese national security legislation for Hong Kong, Taiwan announced that it will open an office in July in Taipei to offer humanitarian assistance to Hong Kong citizens, including those seeking asylum  The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said it “strongly condemns” the legislation. “The Hong Kong national security law reflects a complete negation of the commitment made by the Chinese Communist Party at the handover of Hong Kong that its way of life would ‘remain unchanged for 50 years,’” Taiwan’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. “The law will seriously undermine Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, significantly restrict freedom of expression and judicial independence, decimate the rule of law, erode core values such as freedom, human rights and rule of law, and cause tremendous social upheaval, while also affecting peace, stability and prosperity in the region,” it said.

India (Non-Kashmir) Clashes on the informal border with China killed at least 20 Indian soldiers, as tensions rose with Pakistan, and Maoist-related violence continued. Additionally, on the 4th July, it was announced in  NEW DELHI—India intends its ban on Chinese apps to show its willingness to dismantle important economic links between the two countries to pressure Beijing to back off in a border dispute, Indian officials and analysts say. Finally, India India recorded its highest single-day spike of coronavirus cases on Saturday, 4th July, with over 22,000 new cases and 442 deaths, as infections rose in the western and southern parts of the country amid heavy monsoon rains. India has the fourth-most confirmed cases in the world, exceeding 640,000 on Saturday, according to health ministry data. It follows the United States, Brazil and Russia.

Kashmir On Friday 3rd July, in an act of strong retaliation to the Pakistani Army’s Ceasefire Violations in Qasba, Kerni and Shahpur Sectors of Jammu & Kashmir, Indian Army today undertook firing against Pakistan Army posts in the Rakh Chikri area resulting in the death of two Pakistan Army soldiers of 10 BALUCH. Hundreds of people in Indian-administered Kashmir staged protests on Wednesday, accusing government forces of killing a man during a rebel attack which also left a trooper dead. Rebels opened fire from a mosque attic in the northern town of Sopore, setting off a battle with security forces, paramilitary police spokesperson Junaid Khan told AFP.

Sir Lanka the Supreme Court (SC) ruling has granted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa authority to govern without parliamentary oversight, while Gotabaya’s appointment of two new bodies with far-reaching powers signalled further steps toward authoritarianism and hard-line Sinhala Buddhist nationalism.

EASTERN EUROPE

Belarus on the 3rd July, Reuters Minsk report that  Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, once dubbed the last dictator in Europe by Washington, has seen protests come and go in his 26 years in power, but none quite like the ones that are rippling through his usually loyal support base now. The police have arrested hundreds in an effort to quell anti-government protests before an Aug. 9 presidential election, according to the government and human rights groups. But several police officers are among those who have taken to social media to challenge him, posting selfies with their faces covered by signs such as “Lukashenko is not my president”.

LATIN AMERICA

In Venezuela, The Political crisis escalated further as President Maduro’s govt took series of steps to strengthen control over electoral framework and silence opposition ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for Dec., and on the 4th July, in a message to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Rouhani expressed his sincere congratulations to the Latin American nation on the anniversary of its 1811 independence. He also stressed the need to broaden the “friendly and strategic” relations between the two countries, Tasnim News Agency reported. Iran and Venezuela enjoy a high level of diplomatic ties and are strategic allies, as both countries strongly oppose to the US imperialism.

Mexico, Covid-19 deaths surge in Latin America, as Mexico rises to 5th place in the global rankings for infection rates and deaths. Meanwhile, criminal groups’ activity continued to drive record homicide rates. The 8th June being reported as the deadliest day so far this year with 118 killings, while concerns persisted over both police brutality and violence against police. Earlier today (5th July) it was announced that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s visit with President Trump in Washington this week will no doubt embarrass many Mexicans and outrage many Americans. The meeting, intended to bolster Mr Trump’s campaign, is an opportunity for Mr López Obrador to return a favour.

MIDDLE EAST

Lebanon, an unprecedented and catastrophic currency collapse sparked renewed anti-government protests while negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stalled due to disagreement between government and banks over the magnitude of financial losses. On 30th June, the government raised the price of partially subsidised bread, sparking further protests in Beirut. Protein has been taken off the menu at army barracks while ordinary Lebanese have resorted to selling furniture to raise enough money to buy food. Retail chains closed en masse during the week, and almost all the country’s hotels remain shuttered – hopes of a spike from summer tourism were dashed by the Covid-19 pandemic and rising fears about security across the country. Civil Leaders have been quoted as saying that “When it’s all boiled down, this is indeed the reckoning,’ said one senior politician. “If you break what’s been built since the war years, we are in for another conflict. And it could make 1982 look like a dress rehearsal.”

Saudi Arabia/ Yemen Huthis intensified attacks against Saudi-backed Yemeni govt forces in northern Yemen as well as cross-border strikes into Saudi Arabia, this is all amid rapid spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile, government forces and southern separatists forged ceasefire after renewed fighting. 

 

 

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 July.

 

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