Monthly Travel Safety Report

November 2019 – Global Travel Risk Report

Welcome to November

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.


~ SETTING THE SCENE FOR NOVEMBER  ~

In October,

  • Turkey launched a major offensive against Kurdish-led forces in Syria’s north east and, though fighting eased mid-month, it could escalate again in coming weeks.
  • In Libya, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar stepped up airstrikes on forces allied to the UN-backed government and civilian targets.
  • The Yemeni government and southern separatists have a precious opportunity in November to strike a deal and stem hostilities in the south.
  • Political protests paralysed Lebanon and led to deadly violence.
  • in Iraq, Ethiopia and Guinea, as well as in the Andes region in Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador. Mexico’s government faced a political crisis following a series of high-profile violent incidents.
  • The European Council’s widely-criticised decision not to open formal accession talks was a setback for North Macedonia.
  • Sudan’s government and armed groups made headway in talks.
  • In contrast, South Sudan’s peace deal could collapse and violence resume if President Salva Kiir makes good on his pledge to form a government by 12 November despite objections by rebel leader Riek Machar.
  • Tensions rose in Mozambique as the opposition rejected election results and fighting intensified in the north.
  • Security in both northern Burkina Faso and western Burundi
  • violence could escalate in eastern DR Congo as the army ramps up its new offensive against armed groups.
  • Guinea-Bissau faced new instability as President José Mário Vaz dissolved the government, raising the risk of protests and violent repression by security forces around November’s presidential polls.

Weather Hazards & Natural Disasters

EARTHQUAKES

There have been nine earthquakes worldwide since the beginning of November.

Argentina – November 3, Magnitude 5.3.
To date there have been no reports of casualties or death and it is unknown how much damage may have been done to infrastructure in the San Juan Province.

Chile – November 4, Magnitude 6.1.
The Coquimbo region of Chile felt the main force of the quake which has it’s epicentre 83 kilometres off the coast – to date there have been no reports of deaths or injuries, and the tsunami warning which had been in place hours after the quake has since been withdrawn.

Tonga – November 4, Magnitude 6.6 and 5.5.
With two quakes in one day, there are few people living and working within 100Km of the quake's epicentres and so far there have been no reports of injury or deaths.

Sandwich Islands – November 2 & 5, Magnitudes 6.3 & 5.9 respectively.
Thankfully there have been no casualties reported as the quake occurred off-shore to the east of the islands

Vanuatu (Island Chain south-east of Papua New Guinee) – November 5 & 6 November, Magnitude 5.9 & 5.8 respectively.
are amongst the worst affected in terms of casualties and deaths in the face of natural disasters – as yet there are no reports coming from these islands regarding deaths or casualties.

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.

The Cyclone Season – Southe Pacific runs annually from November 20 April.

India – 30 October – 6 November – Tropical Cyclone MAHA is moving east towards the western coast of northern India. On 6 November at 0.00 UTC, its centre was approximately 680 km south-west of Surat (Gujarat State) and approximately 690 km west of Mumbai (Maharashtra State), with maximum sustained winds of 111 km/h. MAHA will weaken as it moves east, approaching the coast of Gujarat on 7 November as a tropical depression.

South & Central Vietnam – November 1 – Tropical Cyclone Matmo’s passage across the region resulted in 1 death, 14 injuries and widespread damage to buildings.

Vietnam & Philippines - Tropical Cyclone Nakri’s centre was approx 450KM west of Mindoro Island (The Philippines) and 750Km west of Binh Dinh Province Vietnam this morning, with constant wind speeds of 59km per hour it is currently described as a tropical depression, however it is expected that wind speeds will rise over the coming 2 – 3 days as it makes its passage from the Philippines to Vietnam.

Philippines – Super Typhoon Halong is one of the strongest storms ever observed by satellite. It’s currently raging in open waters of the tropical Pacific Ocean, with wind speed of 305+Km per hour. It is rated as a category 5+ Storm and is heading towards the Philippines, Vietnam and may skim the southern islands of Japan.

FLOODS / LANDSLIDES

As the Hurricane/Typhoon and Tropical Cyclone seasons are either ending or about to begin – flash flooding, mud-slides and landslides can be anticipated in regions affected by these annual extreme weather conditions.

Uganda - Heavy rain has been affecting several districts of the country since mid-October, causing continuous flooding.

According to media reports, as of 6 November, one person died and 2 people are missing following flooding in Mukono District. In Bulambuli and Butaleja districts, 4,500 people have been displaced, 950 houses flooded and schools, roads and bridges damaged or destroyed. Moderate rain is forecast across south-western and northern parts of the country.

Columbia - A landslide on 5 November between Ortega-Chaparral municipalities (Tolima Department, central-western Colombia) has resulted in one death, injuring 16, according to media reports. Another landslide, triggered by heavy rain in Jerico Municipality (Antioquia Department, central Colombia) injured 2 and destroyed 2 houses. More than 1,000 people have been displaced across 17 districts of Jerico. Moderate rain is forecast over central Colombia for the next 24 hours and a red alert has been issued for thunderstorms for northern Toloma.

VOLCANOS

PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Mt Manam located in a chain of islands in the Bismark Strait, just off the coast of Papua New Guinea has been very active all year. In fact, much of the activity has been explosive eruptions. The region is on high alert as further significant violent eruptions are anticipated.

DROUGHTS

There are new drought conditions to report this month.

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 | Phillipeans
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 having your own Hostile Environment Close Protection Team and armoured transport should be considered a minimal requirement!

Democratic Republic of Congo

Violence persisted in Ituri in northeast and North Kivu province in east, where fighting could escalate in coming weeks as army ramps up major offensive against armed group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). No province within the country has been left unscathed by violent protests and clashes between protestors, security forces and militias.

The violence and violent protests are expected to continue unabated throughout November.

South Sudan

If President Kiir follows through on his pledge to form transitional government at end of the pre-transitional period on the 12 Nov despite objections by main rebel leader Riek Machar peace agreement could collapse and violence resume.

High-Level UN talks which are trying to bring resolution have so far failed and the situation is very precarious and volatile.

Guinea-Bissau

See “deteriorating situation” below

Syria

See “deteriorating situation” below

Iraq

See “deteriorating situation” below

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

Attacks against civilians and security forces – most attributed to jihadists – intensified in Centre-North region and continued in Sahel and North regions.

In the Sahel region, jihadists continued to target strategic transport routes and infrastructure in an alleged attempt to limit traffic in and out.

Burundi

Security forces clashed with armed militants in the west near border with DR Congo (DRC), and authorities and the ruling party continued to repress main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL).

In the west, RED-TABARA rebels clashed with security forces in Musigati, Bubanza province. Fighting reportedly left at least a dozen dead on each side; group same day temporarily abducted twenty civilians from Mpanda.

Authorities arrested four journalists and their driver en route to report on clashes.

Ethiopia

Protests against PM Abiy sparked violence that left over 70 dead.  Intercommunal attacks continued in several places, and tensions persisted between Ethiopia and Egypt over former’s construction of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile.

In Oromia region, after ethnic Oromo activist recently critical of Abiy, Jawar Mohammed, accused security forces of trying to remove his security detail, hundreds of his supporters protested against Abiy in capital Addis Ababa and several other places.

Security forces sought to disperse protesters and protests sparked inter-ethnic attacks, mostly by informal groups of Oromo; violence left at least 78 dead.

Mozambique

Tensions rose as opposition party Renamo rejected victories of President Nyusi and ruling Frelimo party on 15 Oct presidential and parliamentary polls.

Fighting intensified in the north between militants and government forces backed by Russian private security company.

Violent incidents marred the lead-up to polls.

In Sofala province in the centre of the country, unidentified assailants killed three bus passengers and same day killed one person at River Pungué.

In Gaza province in the south, five assailants, including four suspected police officers, killed local electoral observer; the following day the government launched an investigation.

Guinea

Security forces’ violent repression of protests against President Condé’s plan to run for a third term left at least nine dead. Thousands demonstrated in the capital Conakry and regional capitals Boké (west), Labé (centre) and Mamou (centre) against Condé’s alleged intention to change the country’s constitution so that he can seek a third term in power.

Throughout October thousands demonstrated again in Conakry.

Security forces tried forcibly to disperse demonstrators in Conakry, including with live ammunition, and protesters also clashed with security forces in the opposition stronghold of Mamou.

Violent demonstrations and the use of live ammunition is expected to persist throughout November.

Guinea-Bissau

Ahead of 24 Nov presidential election, tensions have mounted as President Vaz dissolved the government and tried to replace PM Gomes raising the risk of protests and violent repression by security forces in coming weeks.

North Macedonia

On the 18th October, the European Council decided not to begin formal accession talks with North Macedonia (and Albania) following French veto, in a move widely criticised for undermining EU influence and credibility in Western Balkans and prompting frustration in Skopje, where it is feared rejection will weaken PM Zaev’s reformist government.

Bolivia

Amid concerns over the legitimacy of general election results, the government faced mass protests, strikes and clashes between government and opposition supporters that left several dead.

Violent protests erupted in at least nine cities day after 20 Oct vote, which incumbent President Morales won amid concerns over vote-rigging and fraud, with opposition disputing results: thousands demonstrated in capital La Paz, while groups of Morales supporters and opponents clashed in various cities. Final results released 24 Oct showed Morales won 47.1% of vote thus avoiding a second round, sparking more riots in La Paz and Santa Cruz de La Sierra, with police firing tear gas at crowds.

Chile

Unrest rocked country as escalating anti-austerity protests led to incidents of looting and clashes between security forces and demonstrators, with some twenty people killed.

Protests in capital Santiago against increased public transport prices turned violent as protesters threw stones, attacked police vehicles and burnt at least one bus, while anti-riot police used tear gas and batons against demonstrators.

President Piñera declared a state of emergency in the capital, which was later extended to other cities as protests and clashes with police spread, increasingly focused on the cost of living in general and inequality.

Curfews were imposed and are still in force in Santiago, Valparaíso, Coquimbo and Biobío.

By the end of October, it was reported that some 20 people had been killed nationwide (including five people killed in Santiago garment factory reportedly torched by looters); National Institute for Human Rights reported 546 people suffered firearms injuries.

Equador

Twelve days of mass protests sparked by President Moreno removing $1.3bn fuel subsidy shattered much of country in early to mid-October. According to the public prosecutor’s office, the mass protests left some eight dead with over 1,500 injured and police arresting 1,192. The volatile and often violent protest is expected to continue into November.

Mexico

The Government faced political crisis following a series of high profile violent events in Sinaloa (north), Michoacán (centre) and Guerrero (south) in mid-Oct.

The National Guard and army officers detained Ovidio Guzmán, son of Joaquín Guzmán – alias “El Chapo” and former leader of Sinaloa Cartel currently imprisoned in the U.S.

In Culiacán, Sinaloa; Sinaloa Cartel responded by deploying crews of gunmen in the city and attacked military forces, leading to eight deaths including one soldier.

Authorities released Ovidio to prevent further escalation; amid criticism from media and opposition. The Government admitted to poor planning of arrest.

Elsewhere in the country, alleged Jalisco Cartel New Generation gunmen killed thirteen police in an attack in Aguililla, Michoacán. Fourteen alleged members of armed group and one soldier killed in clashes outside Iguala, Guerrero.

Lebanon

The Government’s announcement of austerity measures sparked nationwide anti-govt protests which paralysed the country and forced PM Hariri resigned. The Government announced austerity measures to address the economic crisis, including tax on use of social media platform WhatsApp, prompting thousands to take to streets, first in capital Beirut and then across country.

Crowds complained of government t corruption and economic mismanagement and demanded that government t resign.

In Beirut, police tried to disperse protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets, leaving several dozen protesters and police injured, and arrested at least 70 protesters.

Syria

In the northeast, the U.S. withdrew from front lines and Turkey launched an offensive against Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Turkey-U.S. and Turkey-Russia deals calmed fighting mid-month, but clashes erupted late Oct between Turkish-backed rebels and government forces.

It is anticipated that fighting between Turkish and Kurdish forces could rise again during November.

Iraq

Anti-government protests erupted in capital Baghdad and southern provinces leading to a violent crackdown on protesters that left at least 250 dead and 8,000 wounded; violence and political instability could rise further in Nov.

There have been several violent protests in Bagdad and across the country. Protesters took to streets in Baghdad calling for jobs, improved public services and an end to corruption. Security forces’ violent attempts to disperse protests, including with live ammunition, caused protests to swell and spread to southern provinces. Before unrest temporarily subsided the clashes had left 149 protesters and eight members of security forces dead. Towards the end of October protests and violent clashes once again escalated in Bagdad and the southern provinces lead to scores of people dead and wounded.

Lybia

Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) intensified airstrikes on forces allied to UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and civilian targets as it pursued a campaign to take capital Tripoli.

The UN kept up diplomatic efforts to push two sides’ international backers to support the ceasefire. LNA stepped up air-strikes against GNA’s strategic sites, notably hitting Misrata airport 5 and large weapons depot; in addition to civilian targets.

The situation continues to be highly volatile and as yet there is no agreement on the UK backed peace talks, so it is likely that the violence will continue throughout November.

 

 

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