Monthly Travel Risk Summary Report

October 2020- Travel Risk Summary Report

Welcome to October,

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 that 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. 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, please do not hesitate to contact us at Ares Risk Management.

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~ SETTING THE SCENE FOR OCTOBER  ~

Coronavirus (aka Covid-19) has continued to keep the world in varying levels of disarray, and economic shrinkage. While some business sectors were slowly opening up, recent localised spikes in infection rates have led to the reintroduction of restricted movement and curfews. While lockdown measures were lifted across the travel industry in late-June and July, quarantines continue to be in place for many destinations. Depending on where you are travelling to or from, your Travel Management Company is best placed to advise you.

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

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 7-days of October, seven earthquakes have been recorded.

  • 1st October 2020 – a 6.4 magnitude earthquake was recorded 40 Km off the coast of Tonga in the Pacific. While the quake itself was quite close to the surface and did cause significant shaking and some localised wave, no Tsunami warning was issued and to date, there have been no reports of damage to building or infrastructure and no reports of casualties.
  • 1st October 2020 – A 6.0 Magnitude earthquake shook eastern Papua New Guinea with no material damage or casualties reported or a tsunami warning issued. The island of New Guinea, whose western half is part of Indonesia and the eastern half of Papua New Guinea, sits on the “Pacific Ring of Fire”, an area of ​​great seismic and volcanic activity that is shaken each year by about 7,000 earthquakes. , most moderate.
  • 3rd October 2020 – An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 shook the northern tip of Antarctica, however with no people or settlement for 100km near the quakes’ epicentre, there has been no martial damage or casualties.
  • 3rd October 2020 – An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.5 struck off the coast to the Southeast of Honshu Island, Japan. The quake occurred approx. 100Km from land at a depth of 52 Km and to date there have been reports of material damage or casualties and a tsunami warning was not issued.
  • 4th and 5th October 2020 – A quake of 5.6 and 5.3 magnitudes shook the Philippines, both quakes were reported as moderate by local media, however to date, there have been no material damage or casualties reported or a tsunami warning has not been issued.
  • 6th October 2020 – A quake registering 5.9 on the Richter Scale was recorded off the coast of Alaska, however with sparse populations and settlements in the area, there have been no reports of material damage or casualties.

  • 6th October 2020 – An earthquake of magnitude 6.0 shook the waters of the Pacific east of Fiji, without the authorities initially reporting casualties or material damage, nor was a tsunami alert issued for the moment.

CYCLONES, HURRICANES & TYPHOONS

The Hurricane Season across the Caribbean/ Bahamas/Florida and Carolina’s/Mexico and Northern South American countries spans from the 1st of 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.

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2nd – 6th October –  Tropical Cyclone Gamma 20 – MEXICO – CUBA

On Friday night, (02.10.2020) the National Hurricane Center declared the tropical depression over the western Caribbean had become Tropical Storm Gamma. Since then, the storm strengthened on its approach to the Yucatán Peninsula, where it was expected to move inland on Saturday. Packing maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, the storm was continuing to intensify and could even reach hurricane strength before its centre crosses the east coast of the Yucatán around midday (03.10.2020). The storm’s winds had increased 35 mph in 24 hours, meeting the criteria for rapid intensification, which has been the mark of many 2020 storms as they approach land.

The government of Mexico upgraded a Tropical Storm Warning to a Hurricane Warning for the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula from north of Punta Allen to Cancún, including Cozumel. “Gamma is expected to produce heavy rainfall that could result in life-threatening flash flooding over portions of the Yucatán Peninsula, far western Cuba and well away from the centre in the Mexican states of Campeche, Tabasco, and northern Chiapas,” the Hurricane Center warned.

6th  – 7th  October 2020 – Tropical Storms Marie & Norbit – Central Pacific & Mexico     
Over the past few days, NASA has been tracking the progress of Tropical Storm Marie, which is moving towards the Central Pacific and slowly dissipating, while Norbit is currently in its developmental stages and tracking approx., 365 miles of the coast ofsouth-southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico. Norbert is moving toward the northwest near 7 mph (11 kph). A slower northwestward motion is expected with Norbit meandering thereafter through midweek. Maximum sustained winds are near 45 mph (75 kph) with higher gusts. Some slow strengthening is possible over the next few days.        

4th – 7th October 2020 – Tropical Cyclone (Typhoon) Chan-Hom Japan    
Tropical Storm Chan-Hom is on the way for Japan this week. An organizing depression is forecast to become an intense typhoon and threaten southwestern Japan with floods and severe winds later this week.

The storm has developed at the latitude 22 degrees north, which is a quite rare occurrence for October. Typically, only 10 per cent of October tropical storms form north of the latitude 20°N over the Western Pacific. This indicates the seas are extremely warm. The powerful storm is expected to approach the southwestern part of the country sometime on Thursday and Friday this week. Chan-Hom could be devastating for Kyushu Islands, Japan. Chan-Hom seems to be taking a similar track as the last typhoon Dolphin around 10 days ago. After Chan-Hom ejects off Japan, it transitions into an extratropical storm and accelerates towards the North Pacific. This should happen by early next week. A dangerous situation is developing, as part of Japan could be severely hit by a violent wind, storm surge, and a tremendous amount of rain with flooding.

4th – 7th October – Tropical Storm Delta –  Mexico, United States, Cuba, Cayman Islands
Hurricane Delta is rapidly intensifying in the Caribbean Sea, could hammer Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula or western Cuba, then poses an increasing hurricane danger to the U.S. Gulf Coast by late this week.

America’s Gulf Coast is expected to be battered by hurricane Delta later this week, as Delta breaks yet another record in a historic year. Hurricane Delta, is forecast to reach the Cayman Islands late Monday, is expected to become a hurricane by the time it hits Cuba Tuesday, bringing “significant flash flooding and mudslides,” the National Hurricane Center warned.

It will likely pack winds of at least 100 mph by the time it makes landfall along the Gulf Coast around Friday, the centre warned. “There is an increasing risk of dangerous storm surge, wind, and rainfall hazards along the coast from Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle,” the hurricane centre said.

FLOODING, LANDSLIDES, MUDSLIDES

Indonesia – On 1-5 October, flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rain resulted in one death, missing people, and damage to infrastructure and houses in Indonesia. In West Java Province, media report one death and 3 missing people following flash floods in Cianjur Regency. Floods and landslides in Bogor and Kuningan Regencies have left more than 470 people affected and 123 houses damaged. In East Java Province, a landslide damaged at least 41 houses and has affected over 210 residents. Flooding in Bengkulu Province (south-west Sumatra) affected 133 residents, damaging 50 buildings and destroying two bridges. Several villages in Seluma Regency remain inaccessible. On 7-8 October, moderate to locally heavy rain is forecast over Bengkulu Province, East, and West Java Regencies. 

The Philippines Heavy rain in Cebu Province (Central Visayas region) on 4 October caused floods, leading to casualties and damage. According to media reports, more than 800 people had to be evacuated across several cities, notably Cebu City. More heavy rain is forecast over most parts of the country, particularly in the central Philippines.

Some localised flooding caused by heavy rains has been reported in Georiga and parts of the UK in the past few days.

FOREST FIRE DANGERS

Medium or high danger warnings have been issued in southern PortugalSpainGreek islands, Sicily, CyprusBulgaria, east RomaniaTurkeyUkraine.

VOLCANOES

Mt Etna – Sicily, Italy – Mt Etna is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and while there are lulls in the almost constant activity, 1st October saw renewed strombolian activity of the volcano continues at elevated levels characterized by minor ash emissions. A dense dark ash plume at the new SE crater occurred at 08:00-09:30 local time 1st October 2020, which reached approx. 28,000 ft (8,534 m) altitude and drifted East. Tremors have shown fluctuating variations from moderate to high level,s including periods of high amplitude.

DROUGHTS

Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, have recorded higher than average summer temperature and lower than average rainfall which is having an impact on agriculture.

Disease Alert

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
The Corona Virus (aka Covid-19, and SARS-Cov-19) 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 getting a grip of the virus with both infection and deaths dropping, the past month has seen a spike in the spread of the virus, while so far deaths have been limited.

An analysis of official figures as of Wednesday 6th October 2020, 35,854,100 have been made sick by the virus and at least 1,050,200 people have died. The map below gives an indication of infection rates per capita.

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
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

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, police brutality and other social issues come to the fore, political protests are likely as elections in the USA, Africa, Cyprus, Lithuania, Georgia, Bosnia, Romania, Moldovia, Checz Republic, are to be expected. 

USAWith elections in the USA in November this year and the politicisation of Covid-19, it is anticipated that there could be a rise in civil unrest in the USA. Minneapolis continues to be one of the hardest-hit cities in the USA, however, there have been sporadic incidents of violent protests and demonstrations across the USA for some months. Protests and demonstrations are likely to continue throughout the country during the pre-election campaigning season.
EUROPEThere has been no marked change in the potentials for Civil Unrest across Europe – as reported in July, August and September,  “Politicians are about to be confronted with the harsh reality of their insane lockdowns in Europe. (Armstrong Economics) Covid-19, shrinking economics, unemployment, suspension of civil and human rights during the pandemic and many other factors are feeding into increasing the incidence of violent civil unrest – this situation is likely to get worse and become more commonplace in the developed countries of the West, while the triggers in the developing world and regions with totalitarian regimes will also continue to face varying levels of civil unrest for similar reasons to the developed world, with the added component of seeking basic civil and human rights.
HONK KONG, CHILE, VENESUELA, IRAN, LYBIA, NIGERIA, SUDAN, HAITEIn 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 has in the main been short-lived, and has generally failed. Many regions that 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!

CÔTE D’IVOIREThere are worrying signs in the political trajectory for Cote ‘Ivoire, as the country prepares for elections on the 31st October. Political; divisions have come to a head as deadly violence erupted following President Ouattara’s declaration of running for a third term, and fears about a fair election after 40 out of 44 candidates were rejected by the Constitutional Council.   Ahead of the polls, there have been calls, such as from France, to delay the elections to minimise any further violence and facilitate dialogue with the opposition. But that has beenrefused by Ouattara.
GUINEAGuinean President Alpha Conde, whose controversial plan to seek a third term in October 18 polls has sparked deadly protests, said on Tuesday that he would honour the outcome of the vote in the poor West African state.   “It’s extraordinary that I should be seen as an anti-democratic dictator,” Conde said in an interview with French news outlets France 24 and RFI.   A former opposition activist, Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010 after decades of authoritarian rule in the former French colony. He won re-election five years later. Now rights groups accuse him of veering towards authoritarianism. Conde has brushed aside accusations of fomenting ethnic divides and of having referred to the presidential campaign as a “war”.   Guinea’s politics are mostly drawn along ethnic lines, Conde’s party largely backed by the Malinke people and main challenger Cellou Dalein Diallo’s UFDG by the Fulani – although both insist they are pluralist.
ARMENIA/ AZERBAIJAN/NAGORNO-KARABAKHFighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani military forces over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh continued Wednesday for the 11th day, with no sign of a ceasefire. More than 300 people have reportedly been killed since the long-simmering dispute erupted in violence on September 27.   The two nations have disputed ownership of the mountainous enclave since becoming independent with the breakup of the former Soviet Union. Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but it has been run autonomously by its primarily ethnic Armenians who are the majority population. Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said on Wednesday that his country would return to talks with Armenia after the acute phase of military conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh region ends, Russian news agency TASS cited him as saying. Aliyev, who spoke to Russian President Putin by phone, said in an interview with Russian state television that Turkey had the right to participate in mediation.   Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told Time magazine that Armenia would agree to a ceasefire only if Turkey discontinued its engagement and mercenaries were withdrawn. Armenia’s prime minister has defended his country’s presence in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Speaking to the BBC’s Jonah Fisher, using the Armenian name for the area – Artsakh – Nikol Pashinyan said it was “Armenia, land of Armenians”. Mr Pashinyan said the region was facing an assault from the combined forces of Azerbaijan, Turkey and what he called “terrorists” from Syria.   According to preliminary estimates, some 50% of Karabakh’s population and 90% of women and children — or some 70,000-75,000 people — have been displaced,” the Nagorno-Karabakh administration’s rights ombudsman Artak Beglaryan, told the AFP news agency. It has also been reported that the leadership in both Armenia and Azerbaijan have told their populations to prepare for war.
 UKRAINEBoth the European Union and the UK  has pledged to push ahead with work on a free trade agreement with Ukraine and called on Russia to respect the peace agreement aimed at ending six years of conflict in eastern Ukraine.   Britain and Ukraine will on Thursday (8th October 2020) sign a “strategic partnership agreement” to support Kiev’s sovereignty “in the face of Russia’s destabilising behaviour”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said. The deal to intensify the two countries’ political, trade and strategic cooperation will be signed in Downing Street as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky makes a two-day visit to the UK.
BOLIVIAMarianela Copa, a member of the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) party, accused the coup government of promoting a broad plan of violence and sabotage against the MAS presidential and vice-presidential candidates to prevent the return of democracy to the country.   “The government’s false accusation of illicit enrichment against the presidential candidate of Luis Arce, are part of a dirty war,” denounced the spokesperson of the organization.   The deputy minister of transparency of the de-facto government, Guido Melgar, announced a few hours before a denunciation against Arce, who was a minister of President Evo Morales, of alleged illicit enrichment, a charge based on an investigation by Attorney General Alberto Morales, questioned by those who claim that he politicizes his work in the service of the coup government.   “A whole plan of violence and sabotage is underway to avoid the return of democracy in the country,” she said, calling on the Bolivian people to be alert to the possibility of infiltrated provocateurs generating violence and to denounce them.   In the last few weeks, organized terrorist groups have carried out attacks against activities and electoral premises of the MAS, whose candidate Luis Arce is the favourite to win the elections of October 18th.
SOMALIAIMPROVING SITUATION – BUT STILL VULNERABLE While in many ways the situation in Somalia for the moment is considered to be improving as the Federal Government and all member states finally reached the long-awaited agreement on an electoral framework, however, al-Shabab and Al Qaida affiliates step up there attack, while in recent days the Somali National Army have stepped up operations against the insurgents and have captured and retaken villages. During the past two days,  at least four al-Shabab militants have been killed, while six security officers were killed while four others were injured in a landmine attack on their vehicle on the outskirts of Bal’ad town on Wednesday (07.10.2020)
AFGHANISTANIMPROVING SITUATION – BUT STILL VULNERABLE For the first time in decades, Afghanistan has an opportunity for peace. The United States’ agreement to withdraw its troops and the negotiations between the Afghanistan government and Taliban have set the stage for the end of a long and bitter conflict. However, Covid-19 has imposed a cruel twist of fate, ripping its way through communities that have withstood brutal wars, harsh weather and withering poverty.   Afghanistan continues to be particularly vulnerable. The pandemic has sucker-punched a nation whose economy, infrastructure and population had already been worn ragged.    Peace is by far the most important step to lasting change in Afghanistan. If real peace – the type that lasts – is about much more than the absence of guns and explosive devices. time is now the enemy. Winter is coming and food assistance must arrive before snow closes the mountain passes. This year, food assistance is even more likely to be the only source of nutrition for remote communities until the spring.    If the people of Afghanistan are to finally enjoy the dividends of peace, they need to survive winter, COVID-19 and its economic fallout.
LYBIAPRECARIOUS While it had seemed that some progress was being made to stabilise the country (at least economically) with the lifting of the oil embargo in mid-September, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates continue to carry out regular and increasingly blatant violations of the UN arms embargo on Libya, fuelling a proxy war that is evading political solutions.   Flight data and satellite images show both nations using large-scale military cargo planes to funnel in goods and fighters to forces or proxies inside Libya, routinely violating the 2011 UN arms embargo despite political promises to abstain.   In other developments, a migrant worker was burned to death in the Libyan capital, U.N. and government officials said Wednesday, (07.10.2020) the latest in abuses that migrants and refugees face in the conflict-stricken country.   U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “Sometimes you run out of adjectives to describe what we see in all too many places.” “The people responsible for such a heinous attack need to be brought to justice,” he said. “This underscores as if we needed to underscore yet again, how unsafe Libya is for migrants, and refugees, and how much the authorities on the ground still need to do to ensure the protection of these vulnerable people.”
Deteriorating situations

Covid-19 has had a massive effect on countries in Africa and South America. Over the past 6-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 demonstrations and the death of protestors in some regions,  which only served to inflame the already volatile situations.

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 Hostile 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.

BURUNDIA human rights report following a UN inquiry voiced “extreme concern” disappointment at Burundi’s new leader, who took power in June, has appointed senior officials who face international sanctions for alleged Human Rights abuses during the country’s 2015 political turmoil. In addition, the report cites there have been instances of lawlessness among Evariste Ndayishimiye’s supporters. The report which was released last Thursday also stated that targeted killings, intimidation and sexual assaults of both men and women were committed against opposition supporters ahead of the disputed May election and goes on to say that children were forced to take part in the ruling party meeting and even forced to vote by officials “who gave them the voting cards of deceased or exiled voters.”
UGANDAUganda has sent security troops to its north-west region where tensions are on the rise following deadly attacks on refugees by local people – More than 10 South Sudanese refugees were killed, including a teenage girl and a 25-year-old woman and her baby, and 19 others were seriously wounded in clashes at a water point in Madi-Okollo district in mid-September. Fifteen homes were burnt to the ground and another 26 are confirmed to have been looted and vandalised. The violence erupted in response to an alleged attack on an 18-year-old Ugandan cattle herder, which local men blamed on the refugees.   Meanwhile, with the fear of contracting Covi-19, prisoners in a Ugandan jail overpowered their guards and 219 of them escaped with at least 15 guns. Two were later killed after security forces launched an operation to recapture them. This was the third prison break since March.

ASIA

TAIWAN STRAITTaiwan has spent almost $900 million this year on scrambling its air force against Chinese incursions, the island’s defence minister said on Wednesday, describing the pressure they are facing as “great”. China, which claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory, has stepped up its military activity near the island, responding to what China calls “collusion” between Taiwan and the United States.   Xi Jinping’s Chinese Communist Party has threatened to invade Taiwan for more than seven decades. Now fears are growing among analysts, officials and investors that it might actually follow through and potentially trigger a war with the U.S.   In September, People’s Liberation Army aircraft repeatedly breached the median line in the Taiwan Strait, eliminating a de facto buffer zone that has kept the peace for decades. The party-run Global Times newspaper has given a picture of what could come, urging China’s air force to patrol the skies over Taiwan and “achieve reunification through military means” if it fires any shots. Taiwan announced it would only shoot if attacked.

MIDDLE EAST

LEBANONHundreds of impoverished Lebanese people have recently tried to make the sea crossing from the northern port city of Tripoli to Cyprus to escape the country’s financial meltdown.   Protests are a regular feature throughout Lebanon’s major cities, and without a functioning government since the explosion, the reforms that are needed to unlock international aid seem impossible. The situation is becoming increasingly desperate, with things particularly bleak for young people. Demonstrations are becoming more intense as the army responds with increased violence, with reports of military personnel firing live rounds of ammunition in the direction of protesters.
EGYPTEgyptian authorities have arrested hundreds of people in their effort to clamp down on a spate of small but exceptionally rare protests across the country. Riot police forcibly dispersed the limited demonstrations over economic grievances that erupted across several impoverished, rural villages over the past few weeks, firing tear gas and birdshot, according to a new report from London-based rights group Amnesty International.   The group said it verified videos showing officers with rifles out in force, in two cases beating unarmed protests with batons and firing birdshot at those running away. Two men were killed in the crackdown, the group said, one hit with birdshot by security forces south of Cairo and another during a police raid in the southern city of Luxor.   Hundreds have landed in jail, according to estimates from multiple lawyers, and remain in custody pending investigations into murky terrorism-related charges, a common tool used by state prosecutors to silence critics and quash dissent. 

SOUTH AMERICA

COLUMBIAActivists in Colombia have warned that they continue to face extermination despite the coronavirus pandemic, as Amnesty International accused the country’s government of doing little to protect them. At least 223 social leaders – community activists defending human, environmental, and land rights – have been murdered this year, according to local watchdog Indepaz. Colombia is having its own version of a George Floyd moment, an eruption of anti-police sentiment in response to the deadly beating last month of a 46-year-old father of two during an altercation with officers in Bogotá. Video of their initial interaction shared widely on social media, shows Javier Ordóñez begging “please, no more” as officers repeatedly shocked him with a stun gun. He died later of head injuries allegedly inflicted while in police custody. Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Bogotá in the aftermath of Ordóñez’s death last month, leading to clashes with security forces that left 13 people dead and more than 400 injured. But instead of fizzling out, as protests here have tended to do, the incident has fueled a continuing string of demonstrations and social media agitation. Union members, student groups and human rights activists are now putting police brutality at the top of their list of grievances ahead of a national strike called for Oct. 21.  

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 October.

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