1 August 2014


News summary

 
SOUTH EASTERN CARIBBEAN - Tropical Storm Bertha to affect region
 
CHINA - Security increased on subway system in Beijing
INDIA - Separatist group calls for protests and strike action in Kashmir
INDIA - Curfew imposed in Khandwa
MALAYSIA - (Update) Curfew in Sabah state to be extended
MALAYSIA / SINGAPORE - Bus drivers' protest at Johor Bahru checkpoint
NEPAL - Heightened security in Kathmandu ahead of state visit
TAIWAN - Dozens killed and scores injured in Kaohsiung City gas explosions
 
AZERBAIJAN - Clashes along border with Nagorno-Karabakh enclave
FRANCE - Air France ground staff to embark on countrywide strike action
UKRAINE - Armed forces suspend military offensive in eastern regions
 
GAZA STRIP / ISRAEL - (Update) Hamas and Israel agree to 72-hour ceasefire
LIBYA - Anti-Islamist protest called in Benghazi
LIBYA / TUNISIA - Disruptions and shooting incident at Ras Jedir border crossing
WEST BANK / ISRAEL - (Update) Hamas calls for a 'Day of Rage' in the West Bank
YEMEN - Further protests against fuel subsidy cuts possible
 
ANGOLA - Further unrest possible after clashes in Lunda Norte
TOGO - Lebanese diplomat killed near Lome
WEST AFRICA - (Update) Ongoing Ebola outbreak and local countermeasures
 

 

Americas

SOUTH EASTERN CARIBBEAN; 2 August; Tropical Storm Bertha to affect region

Tropical Storm Bertha, currently located off the west coast of Barbados, is forecast to begin affecting Barbados, Saint Lucia, Martinique and Dominica by the end of 2 August. The tropical storm is expected to result in inclement weather conditions, such as heavy rainfall and strong winds, which can lead to widespread flooding and structural damage. Due to the aforementioned inclement weather conditions, disruptions to road, maritime and air travel should be anticipated. In addition, utility services, such as water and electricity supply, may also be negatively affected during and immediately after the storm. Persons currently in the affected areas should monitor local news for any advisories and information regarding the status of road and public transport infrastructure. Clients intending to utilise any of the region's airports in the near-term should contact their travel provider or airline for an update on the status of their travel arrangements.


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Asia and Pacific

CHINA (Country risk rating: Medium); 31 July; Security increased on subway system in Beijing

According to statements released by the Municipal Public Security Bureau in China's capital, Beijing, additional security measures have been implemented across the subway system on 31 July; these may impact on travel times. The security measures have reportedly been implemented to combat terrorism and limit the ability of militant networks to operate in the capital. Measures include mandatory body checks, bag screenings, liquid inspections and additional deployments of security forces. There have been no reports of credible terrorist threats associated with the use of the subway system. The Chinese government considers stability and security high priorities. It is likely that the additional security measures are in response to several high-profile security incidents that have taken place in recent months. The most recent of these occurred in Yarkant county (also referred to as Shache county), located in the north western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR)'s Kashgar prefecture, on 28 July. These incursions have been attributed to Uighur separatists. Possible travel disruptions should be anticipated on the subway system; these are likely to be most acute in stations in central Beijing, where security is likely to be most stringent. Clients planning to make use of the subway system in Beijing in the coming weeks are advised to anticipate and plan for travel delays due to the increased security measures.


INDIA (Country risk rating: High); 1 and 2 August; Separatist group calls for protests and strike action in Kashmir

The Syed Ali Shah Geelani-led faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), an alliance of a number of political, social and religious organisations, has called for a general strike across India's Kashmir Valley region, located in Jammu and Kashmir state, on 2 August. The APHC has also called for peaceful protests on 1 August, after Muslim midday prayers. The demonstrations and strike are being held to protest against plans by Hindu devotees to carry out a pilgrimage (known locally as a Yatra) to the Konsar Nag lake, in the Kulgam district of the state. It is claimed that if large numbers of pilgrims travel to the lake, it will lead to environmental degradation of the area. Disruptions to business and travel should be expected on 2 August, particularly in the summer capital, Srinagar. Given past precedent, the strike is likely to be well supported. Although the exact locations of the 1 August demonstrations are unconfirmed at present, they are likely to focus on Lal Chowk in Srinagar, as well as in the town of Kulgam, in the namesake district. Protests seldom conclude without any incidents of violence between participants and security forces, the latter of which often use heavy-handed tactics. It should be noted that the protests may carry anti-Hindu sentiment in the Muslim-majority state, elevating the risk of communal tensions and associated violence. Due to a number of ongoing security concerns, all non-essential travel to Jammu and Kashmir state (except the eastern Ladakh region) is advised against. Clients should avoid all protests, public gatherings and concentrations of security forces as a precaution.


INDIA (Country risk rating: High); 31 July; Curfew imposed in Khandwa

A curfew was imposed on the town of Khandwa, in India's Madhya Pradesh state, on 31 July; this followed communal violence in the town overnight on 30/31 July. The violence left at least one person dead and six injured. The curfew will continue for an unknown duration. Additional security forces have been deployed to the town and classes at all educational institutions have been suspended. There have been no further outbreaks of violence. Although the circumstances which sparked the violence remain unclear, it is believed that an inflammatory photo was allegedly posted on a social media website by the Khandwa Municipal Corporation chairman, which resulted in Muslim demonstrators holding protests in the town. Police forcibly dispersed the protesters, with the resulting casualties taking place. Tensions between different religious communities in India, particularly Hindus and Muslims, are fairly common, with isolated incidents having the propensity to lead to severe communal riots. These pose a substantial incidental risk to bystanders. Despite the increased security presence in Khandwa, the potential for further unrest remains. Authorities have not yet announced when the curfew will be lifted; as such, the resultant travel disruptions and security presence are expected to continue in the short-term. Clients in Khandwa are advised to obey the conditions of the curfew and any directives issued by the authorities, and should avoid all demonstrations and security force concentrations as a precaution.


MALAYSIA (Country risk rating: Medium); 2 August; (Update) Curfew in Sabah state to be extended

Authorities in Malaysia's eastern Sabah state announced that a curfew, currently in effect in several districts along the state's eastern coast, will be extended past the initial 2 August deadline. The curfew, which is in place between 18:00 and 06:00 local time, affects the districts of Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Semporna, Kunak and Tawau. Authorities have neither stated any explicit reason for the extension of the curfew, nor have they announced when they expect to lift the restriction. The curfew was imposed on 19 July, as part of increased security measures implemented in response to a recent series of kidnapping incidents and criminal incursions by militants operating from the southern Mindanao and Sulu Archipelago regions of the Philippines, which are located across the Sulu Sea from Sabah. These militants have been known to target both local Malaysian citizens, as well as foreign nationals staying at the various resorts located along the Sabah coastline. The curfew is likely being extended by authorities as a matter of course, as opposed to any significant security developments in the state. Despite continued security measures, further incursions by Philippines-based militants are possible in the near- to medium-term, due to the continued insecurity in the southern Philippines and the perceived lucrative ransoms to be gained by targeting resorts in Sabah state. Clients in or intending to travel to Sabah state are advised to monitor local media for updates and developments and adhere to the conditions of the curfew.


MALAYSIA / SINGAPORE; 1 August; Bus drivers' protest at Johor Bahru checkpoint

Bus drivers in Malaysia are currently staging a protest at the Johor Bahru checkpoint, located in the eponymous southern city, disrupting traffic crossing the Johor Causeway into Singapore, on 1 August. The drivers are striking against the 500 percent increase in checkpoint tolls, effective from 1 August. The bus drivers commenced the demonstration at approximately 08:30 local time, as they were crossing the checkpoint into Singapore, transporting passengers during their normal operations. As the incident is ongoing, it is currently unknown if the apparently impromptu strike will affect other border crossings between Malaysia and Singapore. The demonstration is likely to result in travel disruptions in much of the southern areas of Johor Bahru and the Woodlands area of Singapore, due to the knock-on effects of traffic congestion. In addition, regardless of whether similar protests occur at other border crossings, increased traffic and associated travel delays are expected at all other border crossings as commuters utilise alternative transit points; the Tuas Checkpoint on the Second Link Expressway is likely to be the worst affected. Although no violent civil unrest has been reported thus far, the possibility of clashes between bus drivers and security forces or even other commuters cannot be discounted. Persons in aforementioned affected areas are advised to avoid the Johor Bahru border crossing as a precaution against possible unrest. Clients needing to transit between Johor Bahru and Singapore are advised to consider alternative means of transport, such as air travel or maritime services.


NEPAL (Country risk rating: High); 3 and 4 August; Heightened security in Kathmandu ahead of state visit

Increased security measures have been implemented across Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, ahead of a state visit by India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, on 3 and 4 August. Forces belonging to the paramilitary Armed Police Force and the Nepalese Army have been deployed across the capital. Security will be highest in the vicinity of the locations which Modi will be visiting; these include the Singha Durbar (executive building) and Parliament Building, both of which are located in Kathmandu's city centre between Putalisadak street and Tanka Prasad Ghumti Sadak street, as well as Pashupatinath Temple, located along Pashupati Nath Road in the city's Gaushala area. It should be noted that authorities will be restricting access to Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport, particularly during Modi's transit times, which are expected to be at approximately 10:15 local time on 3 August and 17:00 on 4 August. Despite the travel disruptions due to the increased security presence, the upcoming visit is expected to conclude without significant incident. The majority of Nepal's political parties have welcomed Modi's visit; accordingly, no major demonstrations have been called. Furthermore, Nepal is considered to face a moderate threat of terrorism, largely stemming from separatists and Maoist groups from the country's southern Terai region. These groups have proven to have the capacity to orchestrate low-level attacks in Kathmandu in the past. It should be noted that due to the aforementioned heightened security measures, such an attack affecting the upcoming visit is deemed unlikely. Clients in Kathmandu on 3 and 4 August are advised to anticipate travel disruptions in the vicinity of the aforementioned areas and to plan accordingly. Persons planning to transit through Tribhuvan International Airport on the affected dates should anticipate increased security and transit times.


TAIWAN (Country risk rating: Low); 1 August; Dozens killed and scores injured in Kaohsiung City gas explosions

At least 25 people were killed and over 270 injured in Taiwan's southern Kaohsiung City due to a series of gas explosions which led to several large-scale fires on 1 August. The blasts occurred at approximately 05:00 local time in the south western districts of the city. The worst-affected areas were the Qianzhen and Lingya districts, where emergency operations are still continuing; authorities have restricted access to these areas and have ordered residents to stay indoors for the remainder of 1 August. In response to the incident, Taiwanese authorities have deployed dozens of additional soldiers and firefighters to assist the city's emergency services. Although investigations are continuing, authorities suspect that the explosions were caused by a gas leak from a pipe which services local industries. Due to the large-scale nature of the explosions and the resultant significant infrastructure damage, travel and utility service disruptions are expected throughout the south western districts of the city in the near-term. It should also be noted that the affected areas are close enough to Kaohsiung International Airport to affect travel to and from the facility; however, airport operations are not expected to be heavily affected. Clients in Kaohsiung City are advised to avoid the aforementioned areas of the city for the remainder of 1 August. Travel and utility disruptions throughout the south western districts of the city should be anticipated in the near- to medium-term.


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Europe and Russia

AZERBAIJAN (Country risk rating: Medium); 31 July; Clashes along border with Nagorno-Karabakh enclave

Clashes were reported along the de facto border of the predominantly Armenian-populated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, located in south western Azerbaijan, on 31 July. According to reports, at least one Azerbaijani serviceman and two Karabakhi separatists were killed during the exchange of gunfire in the Agdam region. Armed clashes occur sporadically along Nagorno-Karabakh's de facto border with Azerbaijan. Supported by Armenia, the region has been governed by a Karabakhi separatist administration since 1994. However, Azerbaijan has not relinquished its claims on the territory and despite a long-standing ceasefire agreement, low-level skirmishes and border clashes involving Karabakhi separatists, as well as Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces, take place intermittently. Skirmishes also occur sporadically along Armenia's north eastern and south western borders with Azerbaijan. Such clashes have occasionally resulted in both military and civilian casualties. It should be noted that there has been a marked increase in conflict incidents involving the armed forces of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Karabakhi separatists since late January; at least 20 people, mostly soldiers, have been killed over this period. Most fatalities resulted from an exchange of gunfire, in the regions of Agdam, Fizuli, Goranboy, Jabrayil, Khojavend and Tartar, all of which border Nagorno-Karabakh. Clients are advised against all non-essential travel to the greater Nagorno-Karabakh region due to the unresolved conflict and the continuation of sporadic clashes.


FRANCE (Country risk rating: Medium); 2 August; Air France ground staff to embark on countrywide strike action

Unionised ground staff employed by France's national carrier, Air France, are set to participate in a countrywide strike on 2 August. This is scheduled to proceed from 01:00 to 23:59 local time. Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in the capital, Paris, are expected to be worst affected; however, airports in Marseille, Toulouse and elsewhere will also be affected. An associated protest by striking workers is expected at Charles de Gaulle Airport, commencing at 11:00. The labour action has been called by the CGT, SUD Aerien and other labour unions, in opposition to the proposed restructuring of the airline. Although the plan was first proposed in 2012, airline representatives and the labour unions have been engaged in protracted discussions regarding the conditions of the transformation plan, set to be implemented in 2015. As talks are ongoing, the possibility of the strike being cancelled or postponed cannot be dismissed. Should it proceed as planned, the airline is expected to implement contingency plans to minimise the impact of the action. Nonetheless, flight delays and disruptions are likely on the day. Clients scheduled to fly with Air France on 2 August are advised to contact their travel provider or the airline prior to departure to confirm the status of their flight(s).


UKRAINE (Country risk rating: High); 31 July; Armed forces suspend military offensive in eastern regions

Ukraine's armed forces announced a day-long suspension of their military offensive in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions on 31 July. The measure followed an appeal by the UN for hostilities to cease to allow investigators to visit the crash site of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. Officials have stated that offensive activities will be suspended, but forces will reportedly respond to 'direct attacks'. It is currently unclear when military operations will resume. MH17, a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 travelling between the Netherlands and Malaysia, crashed near the village of Hrabove in the Donetsk region on 17 July; there were 283 passengers and 15 crew members on-board. Initial investigations suggest that the aircraft may have been struck by a surface-to-air missile. Ukrainian officials have since accused pro-Russia separatist militants of firing a missile from a launch site in the Donetsk region; however, neither government nor international investigators had been able to access the crash site due to hostilities in the area, which is controlled by separatist forces. Recent days have seen significant fighting in strategic locations (both urban and rural) in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, with armed forces increasing their efforts to displace militants from the eponymous capitals, as well as the city of Horlivka (Donetsk region). As such, further hostilities are expected once the current suspension in the offensive concludes. Due to instability and frequent clashes involving armed forces and pro-Russia separatist militants, clients are advised against all travel to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Persons currently in either of these regions should maintain a low public profile, limit non-essential movement, and prepare to encounter numerous official and unofficial checkpoints if travelling by road. Essential movements should be restricted to daylight hours and coordinated with local authorities.


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Middle East and North Africa

GAZA STRIP / ISRAEL; 7 July to 1 August; (Update) Hamas and Israel agree to 72-hour ceasefire

Hamas and Israel reportedly agreed to a UN- and US-brokered 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip at 08:00 local time on 1 August. The ceasefire is the latest to be enforced since hostilities began on 7/8 July. In recent days, there has been an escalation in the fighting in the Gaza Strip, with hundreds of Palestinians killed and wounded. The Israeli air strikes and ground assaults have also severely damaged infrastructure. Palestinian militant rocketfire and mortar attacks have persisted and have left a number of Israelis dead. Approximately 64 Israelis have been killed since the start of Operation Protective Edge. The majority have been soldiers. Despite the ceasefire announcement, the potential for further violence remains high. The rhetoric from both sides indicates that the combatants are unwilling to budge on one another's primary prerequisite demands for a permanent truce. Fringe groups may also seek to undermine the cessation of hostilities, which could lead to a re-escalation. Border areas remain the most likely to be affected; however, incursions and actual or attempted attacks remain possible in major or secondary Israeli cities located away from territorial boundaries. For red24's advisory for the Gaza Strip and Israel, please click here.


LIBYA (Country risk rating: High); 1 August; Anti-Islamist protest called in Benghazi

Residents in Libya's city of Benghazi have called for an anti-Islamist protest on 1 August. The protest has been called in response to elevated insecurity in the city since May. Additionally, Islamist militant group, Ansar al-Sharia (AS), has declared an Islamic Caliphate in the city, following its recent capture of a military base being used by fighters aligned to retired general, Khalifa Belqasim Haftar. The call to protest follows a large-scale anti-Islamist protest in Benghazi late on 30 July, which involved several hundred protesters. In addition, similar protests calling for the expulsion of Islamist militias from Tripoli occurred on 31 July. Further such protests in Tripoli are likely in the coming days. Benghazi has been beset by insecurity since May, when Haftar-aligned forces began attacking Islamist militant positions in the city. Conflict between the two groups is expected to persist in the near-term at least. There is an elevated risk of violence at all protest gatherings in Libya. It should be noted that previous demonstrations against Islamist militant groups have become violent and led to casualties. Due to ongoing conflict in Benghazi and Tripoli, clients are advised to defer travel to Libya until the situation stabilises. Persons in Libya should consider external relocation, where appropriate to do so. Clients are advised to consult with their security provider for further guidance. In addition, persons remaining in the country should ensure that they request regular risk assessments from their security provider and ensure that contingency plans are fully up to date. All street protests, politically motivated gatherings, security force facilities and personnel should also be avoided.


LIBYA / TUNISIA; 31 July; Disruptions and shooting incident at Ras Jedir border crossing

Disruptions have been reported on the Libyan side of the Ras Jedir land border crossing between Tunisia and Libya in recent days. The disruptions are a result of the arrival of thousands of Egyptian and Tunisian nationals who are attempting to withdraw from Libya due to the ongoing conflict in the country. The border crossing from Libya into Egypt is also reportedly closed, or was temporarily closed in recent days, leading to many Egyptians seeking an alternative exit from the country. In addition, at least six Egyptian nationals were reportedly killed by Libyan militiamen at Ras Jedir on 31 July. The circumstances surrounding the shooting remain unclear. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the militiamen may have been attempting to prevent persons at the site from entering Tunisia illegally. The Wazin-Dehiba crossing, located further south, is open. In response to the increasing number of persons attempting to enter Tunisia, Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa has raised the alert status of the security forces along the shared border in Tunisia. Due to ongoing conflict in Benghazi and Tripoli, clients are advised to defer travel to Libya until the situation stabilises. Persons in Libya should consider external relocation, where appropriate to do so. Clients are advised to consult their security provider for further guidance. In addition, persons remaining in Libya should ensure that they request regular risk assessments from their security provider and ensure that contingency plans are fully up to date. Personnel operating near the Ras Jedir border crossing should maintain a low public profile and a heightened personal security awareness. Should violence or unrest occur, depart the affected area and seek a secure location.


WEST BANK / ISRAEL; 1 August; (Update) Hamas calls for a 'Day of Rage' in the West Bank

Hamas, the de facto governing body of the Gaza Strip, has called for anti-Israel protests, dubbed the 'Day of Rage', in the West Bank on 1 August. The call to protest coincides with ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which has left over 1,400 Palestinians and approximately 64 Israelis dead since 7/8 July. Further details on the location or the anticipated size of the gatherings are unavailable. The protests, should they proceed, are likely to begin after Muslim mid-day prayers. Protest hotspots include the vicinity of Israeli checkpoints, Jewish settlements, mosques, Palestinian refugee camps and communities near the separation barrier. Specifically, gatherings are likely in and near the Kalandia crossing between Jerusalem and Ramallah. Protests are also anticipated in East Jerusalem, including in the vicinity of the Old City and in nearby Palestinian communities. Arab Palestinian communities in Israel, such as Nazareth, may also be affected. Clients should note that there is a high threat of violence at all anti-Israel events. Since June, Israeli-Palestinian tensions have increased significantly and multiple low-level clashes have been reported. In recent days, there have also been a number of shootings targeting Israeli security checkpoints. Some of these attacks have been linked to West Bank militant groups, such as Fatah's armed wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. For red24's advisory for Israel and the West Bank, please click here. In addition, persons in the West Bank on 1 August should seek to minimise movement, remain near residential/secure compounds and avoid all travel at night. Clients in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Israel in general should exercise heightened caution near protest hotspots and attempt to minimise time spent in the vicinity thereof. All street protests should be avoided.


YEMEN (Country risk rating: Extreme); 30 July; Further protests against fuel subsidy cuts possible

Further protests are possible in the coming days in major urban centres across Yemen, including Sanaa, Aden and Taiz, in response to the removal of government fuel subsidies. There have been a number of protests in recent days in the above-mentioned cities, including in the capital on 30 July. The protests follow a government decision to cut subsidies to fuel in order to relieve budget strain, as a number of recent attacks on oil pipelines in the country have reduced government revenue significantly. Heightened anti-government sentiment generated by the decision may develop further, leading to more significant protest action in the coming days. Demonstrations may also spread to other cities in the country. It should be noted that protests in Yemen are highly susceptible to violence between participants and the police. Demonstrators also tend to carry weapons and regularly block roads with debris. There is a possibility that protesters may seek to gather near high-profile Western businesses, diplomatic representations or foreigner gathering points to increase awareness for their demands. Associated traffic disruptions are anticipated in the vicinity of any such gathering. Clients are advised against all travel to Yemen, excluding the Socotra archipelago. Persons in the country should travel with a security escort and reside in secure accommodation. Clients in protest-affected areas are advised to monitor local developments closely and should avoid all street protests and unofficial/protester roadblocks.


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Sub-Saharan Africa

ANGOLA (Country risk rating: Medium); 30 July; Further unrest possible after clashes in Lunda Norte

Members of the national military forces and additional police personnel have been deployed to several areas across Angola's north eastern Lunda Norte province, following violent clashes between police and protesters on 30 July. Incidents of violent protest action were reported in the towns of Tchombo, Luzamba and Cafunfo; it is believed that the protesters were demonstrating against government efforts to end illegal diamond mining enterprises across the region. According to reports, at least seven protesters and two police officers were killed during the violence; casualty numbers remain unconfirmed. Authorities in Lunda Norte recently announced plans to intensify efforts to end illegal diamond mining enterprises, typically undertaken by unemployed local residents, following the deaths of 17 illegal miners in a landslide on 25 July in the Vuca locality on the banks of the Cuango River, south of Cafunfo. Locals have resisted these efforts, as many accuse the government of allowing mining resources to be exploited by foreign-owned businesses offering few employment opportunities. As the issue remains unresolved and tensions remain elevated in areas of Lunda Norte province, further protests and demonstrations are possible in the immediate-term; it is possible that such gatherings may degenerate into violence. Furthermore, precedent suggests that police action in Angola during these events tends to be heavy-handed and officers often employ excessive force when dealing with civil disturbances, increasing the likelihood of violent clashes. Persons in Lunda Norte at this time are advised to avoid all large public gatherings and concentrations of state security forces in Angola as a precaution, due to the threat of violent civil unrest.


TOGO (Country risk rating: Medium); 30 July; Lebanese diplomat killed near Lome

A Lebanese national was killed by unidentified assailants near Togo's capital, Lome, on 30 July. The victim was visiting Togo from neighbouring Benin, where he acts as Lebanon's Honorary Consul. He was travelling by road when his vehicle was intercepted in Baguida, on the eastern outskirts of Lome, and fired upon by a group of armed men in as many as five vehicles; a local driver was injured. Lebanon's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants stated on 31 July that initial investigations indicate that the incident was criminally motivated. The risk of crime in Togo is indeed high, and violent crime on roads leading into Lome is a particular concern; one particular tactic of bandits is to establish illegal roadblocks on highways, particularly at night. There remains a possibility that the foreign national was a victim of an assassination, as evidenced by the seemingly targeted nature of the attack, his prominent status in regional business transactions, as well as the scale of the incident. Regardless, the attack serves as a reminder of the threat posed by armed groups in Togo and, specifically, the risk of road travel in the country. Given the high risk of crime, clients in Togo should ensure that appropriate security measures are in place at all times. This includes adopting road travel precautions, such as avoiding conducting journeys after dark, and travelling in a convoy of at least two vehicles.


WEST AFRICA; 31 July; (Update) Ongoing Ebola outbreak and local countermeasures

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued an update for the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa on 31 July. The total number of reported fatalities has increased to 729, with 1,323 infections. The worst-affected countries continue to be Guinea (339 deaths), Liberia (156) and Sierra Leone (233). Nigeria has recorded one death. Despite the increase in cases, the update reiterates that WHO does not currently recommend any travel or trade restrictions to the above-mentioned states. However, the local authorities have initiated their own restrictions and quarantines within these affected states. In Sierra Leone, the authorities have declared a state of emergency and have ordered the military to quarantine infected persons. The new measures have also been introduced to safeguard health care workers, who have experienced a number of attacks by local residents recently. Sierra Leone has also banned public meetings. In Liberia, schools have been closed and infected communities have been quarantined. Nigeria has also announced new screening measures at ports of entry for persons arriving from affected countries. These measures have been replicated in other West African states, including Ghana. In addition, a number of airlines, including Asky and Arik Air, have announced a suspension of flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone in response to the infections. The outbreak, which started in Guinea in February, is one of the worst on the continent in recent years; however, according to the WHO, the risk of exposure remains low for the majority of locals and travellers. For further information on the recent outbreak and advice for travellers in the region, please click here.


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