1 April 2015


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News summary

 
CANADA - (Update) Student-led protests expected in Montreal
 
FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA - (Update) Tropical Storm Mayasak affecting region
INDIA - Militant attack in Manipur state results in fatalities
VIETNAM - Garment workers protest in Ho Chi Minh City
 
TURKEY - Widespread disruptions due to power outages in several provinces
TURKEY - Casualties reported following hostage situation in Istanbul
 
LIBYA - Foreign nationals among casualties in rocket attack in Zawiya
MOROCCO - Union-led strike to cause countrywide disruptions
 
CAMEROON - Attempted kidnapping in Garoua-Boulai results in casualties
NIGERIA - (Update) Risk of violence decreases as incumbent accepts defeat in general elections
SOUTH AFRICA - Violence reported at protest in KwaZulu-Natal province
 

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Americas

CANADA (Country risk rating: Low); 1, 2 and 4 April; (Update) Student-led protests expected in Montreal

Students groups in Canada, led by the Association for Student Union Solidarity, are calling for demonstrations in Montreal, in Quebec province, on 1, 2 and 4 April, as well as in the coming weeks. The demonstrations will be held at the Cegep du Vieux Montreal from 11:20 local time on 1 April, on 2 April at Victoria square from 13:00, as well as on 4 April at Place Emilie-Gamelin from 14:00. The rallies have been called to protest against government-proposed austerity measures that would see funding cut from social services, including education, health care, housing and cultural programs. Tens of thousands of students are expected to attend the events; as such, localised travel disruptions should be anticipated. In addition, given past precedent set by student-initiated rallies, incidents of low-level violence between police and protesters are likely. Moreover, solidarity protests are likely in other urban centres in Quebec province, although further details pertaining to these have yet to be released. Persons in Quebec province in the short-term are advised to monitor local media for updates regarding the planned protests. In addition, clients should avoid all protests and related gatherings as a precaution. Localised travel disruptions should be expected in the affected areas.


Asia and Pacific

FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA (Country risk rating: Low); 31 March; (Update) Tropical Storm Mayasak affecting region

Tropical Storm Mayasak, currently a Category 5 storm, began affecting the Federated States of Micronesia on 31 March. The storm has resulted in severe inclement weather, including heavy rainfall, strong winds and flooding. Significant infrastructure damage and disruptions to travel and utility services have been reported on Chuuk island, with further inclement weather and resultant disruptions expected on Yap island in the near-term. There have been no reports of casualties. The storm is expected to lose strength in the coming days, as it moves in a north westerly direction towards Palau and the Philippines. Although the storm is forecast to weaken, it is nonetheless likely to result in further heavy rainfall, strong winds and coastal storm surges. Widespread flooding, landslides and structural damage are anticipated across the region in the coming days. In addition, disruptions are expected to air, road, rail and maritime travel, as well as to utilities such as water and electricity. Persons in the Federated States of Micronesia should monitor local media for information and updates regarding the storm's progress, as well as the status of road and public transport infrastructure. Clients intending to conduct air travel in the near-term should contact their travel provider or airline for an update regarding the status of their flights. All advisories issued by authorities should be adhered to.


INDIA (Country risk rating: High); 31 March; Militant attack in Manipur state results in fatalities

At least two military personnel were killed and another was injured following a suspected militant attack in India's north eastern Manipur state on 31 March. The incident is said to have occurred at 06:00 local time, when unidentified militants ambushed the security personnel who were on patrol in a remote area in the Ukhrul district. The militants are said to have detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) and opened fire on the military personnel. Further details regarding the incident are currently unavailable. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attack; however, local authorities have linked the attack to local militant groups. Manipur is one of a number of north eastern Indian states affected by low-level separatist conflict, where numerous militant groups opposed to the central government's presence in the north east of the country periodically carry out small-scale assaults on security forces and security force installations, government facilities, as well as other symbols of the Indian state. Accordingly, further such attacks are possible. Due to a number of ongoing security concerns, clients are advised against all non-essential travel to Manipur, as well as to Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. Persons currently in Manipur should maintain a low profile and monitor local developments closely.


VIETNAM (Country risk rating: Medium); 31 March; Garment workers protest in Ho Chi Minh City

According to reports, garment workers protested in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on 31 March. The protest was characterised by localised disruptions and civil unrest, although no casualties were reported. The demonstration was well attended and formed part of a five-day strike aimed at protesting against a new insurance law which prohibits garment workers from collecting a lump-sum insurance payment, should they resign. The law, which goes into effect from 1 January 2016, is being contested by civil rights groups and textile workers. Vietnam is currently engaged in Free Trade Association (FTA) negotiations with trading partners in order to boost the industrial economy. Given the nature of the demonstrations and the likelihood of the government not repealing the law, further industrial action and associated protests are possible. Although unconfirmed, any protests that do take place will likely occur in the vicinity of industrial areas. Police are known to use heavy-handed tactics to disperse protesters, posing a significant incidental threat to bystanders. Localised disruptions should be anticipated in the vicinity of any protests. Persons in Ho Chi Minh City are advised to avoid any large public gatherings or demonstrations as a precaution. Furthermore, clients in the country should monitor local developments closely.


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Europe and Russia

TURKEY (Country risk rating: High); 31 March; Widespread disruptions due to power outages in several provinces

Turkey experienced widespread power outages on 31 March, which adversely affected 45 of the country's 81 provinces. The outages also affected the capital, Ankara, and largest city, Istanbul, as well as Izmir, Antalya and Adana. The power outage severely impacted on the provision of public transport and business operations. Turkish air traffic control was also affected, causing disruptions at several airports; rail networks also temporarily suspended their operations. The Turkish Electricity Transmission Company stated that the outages were due mainly to faulty transmission lines; however, the government has not dismissed terrorism as a possible cause. Although power has subsequently been restored, disruptions to business operations as well as transportation services, particularly air travel, are possible over the short-term while the backlog of flights is cleared. Clients intending to transit through Turkey via air are advised to consult with their travel provider or airline prior to departure.


TURKEY (Country risk rating: High); 31 March; Casualties reported following hostage situation in Istanbul

A security operation was undertaken in Istanbul, Turkey, in response to a hostage situation at the Caglayan Justice Palace on 31 March. Prosecutor, Mehmet Selim Kiraz, was taken hostage by gunmen said to be affiliated to extreme leftist group, Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C). Kiraz was investigating the killing of a teenage protester, Berkin Elvan, during the anti-government Gezi Park protests in June 2013. The motive behind the hostage situation was to obtain the conviction of those involved in the incident and the release of those who staged associated solidarity protests. Security forces stormed the court building following failed negotiations with the gunmen and reports of gunfire. In the resultant shoot-out, the two gunmen were killed and Kiraz, who had been injured, later died in hospital. Although the hostage situation has concluded, increased security measures should be anticipated across the city, particularly in the vicinity of the Caglayan Justice Palace, in the short- to medium-term. These measures may include an increased security presence, road closures and random security checks. As anti-government sentiment remains elevated in the country, planned or spontaneous protests are possible in response to the incident in the coming days. It should be noted that such demonstrations carry an elevated risk of clashes between protesters and police. Persons in Istanbul are advised to exercise heightened situational awareness and monitor local media for information on current and related security operations. Clients are advised to avoid all associated protest gatherings and concentrations of security forces as a precaution.


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Middle East and North Africa

LIBYA (Country risk rating: Extreme); 30 March; Foreign nationals among casualties in rocket attack in Zawiya

At least one person was killed and five were injured in a rocket attack in Zawiya, located some 40km from Libya's capital, Tripoli, on 30 March. All but one of the victims were foreign nationals from the Philippines and Sudan. Further details surrounding the incident are unavailable. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which highlights the high threat of terrorism in the country. This threat stems from numerous domestic and regional armed groups, including militants aligned with political parties, as well as regional Islamist extremist organisations. Given the persistent insecurity in the country, further such targeted attacks are likely to persist for the near-term and will continue to undermine the general security environment in the country. Moreover, as this incident illustrates, attacks are often indiscriminate, posing an incidental threat to foreign nationals. Clients are advised against all travel to Libya due to ongoing political instability and conflict in key locations. Persons operating in the country are advised to adopt stringent security measures, obtain regular risk assessments from their security provider and ensure that contingency plans are regularly reviewed and updated.


MOROCCO (Country risk rating: Medium); 2 April; Union-led strike to cause countrywide disruptions

The Moroccan Workers' Union (UMT) has called on its members to participate in a countrywide strike in Morocco on 2 April. The strike has been called to protest against the government's inaction with regard to anticipated labour reforms. The strike action is set to affect private and public services, including public transport services. Associated demonstrations are expected to take place in the country's major urban areas, including the capital, Rabat; however, details regarding these events are currently unavailable. It is currently unclear whether the strike action will be well observed; however, significant disruptions to transport, utility and business services are expected. An increased demand for alternative public transport services is also likely on the day. Associated demonstrations are expected to be well attended and to conclude without incident. Localised travel disruptions should be anticipated near such gatherings. Persons in Morocco on 2 April are advised to monitor local media for updates regarding the planned strike and associated demonstrations. Clients are also advised to expect transport and service disruptions on the day.


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Sub-Saharan Africa

CAMEROON (Country risk rating: High); 31 March; Attempted kidnapping in Garoua-Boulai results in casualties

According to reports released on 31 March, at least eight militants were killed in clashes in Garoua-Boulai, located in eastern Cameroon, on 28 March. Reports indicate that the clashes occurred amid an attempt by armed militants from the Central African Republic (CAR) to kidnap eight local nationals. Various rebel groups from the CAR are known to operate in the porous border regions between the CAR and Cameroon. Most recently on 20 March, 15 people, including local government officials, were kidnapped by armed gunmen near Garoua-Boulai. In 2014, a similar incident occurred, during which 15 Cameroonian nationals and a Polish national were kidnapped. Further politically motivated kidnappings and conflict cannot be discounted. Travel to areas within 50km of Cameroon's shared borders with the CAR is advised against due to various security concerns, including kidnapping. Clients intending to travel to the region should ensure that all movements are coordinated in the presence of a security escort and restricted to populated urban centres.


NIGERIA (Country risk rating: High); 31 March; (Update) Risk of violence decreases as incumbent accepts defeat in general elections

On 31 March, Nigeria's incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) conceded defeat in the country's 28 March general elections, thereby handing victory to opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has confirmed the victory, releasing official results illustrating that Buhari won 53.95 percent of the vote. Given that Jonathan has conceded defeat and has not called for any form of protest action by his supporters, the risk of post-electoral violence has been reduced somewhat. Nonetheless, demonstrations against the result by his supporters remain possible in his strongholds in the largely Christian south of the country, especially in the restive Niger Delta region, in the short-term. Due to various security concerns, all non-essential travel to Nigeria is advised against; travel to a number of states is also advised against. Clients in the country in the coming days should defer travel near all election-related interests and any possible protest action.


SOUTH AFRICA (Country risk rating: High); 31 March; Violence reported at protest in KwaZulu-Natal province

A service delivery protest turned violent and resulted in disruptions along Inanda Drive, Durban, located in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province, on 31 March. Approximately 400 protesters vandalised private property in the area, in addition to blocking several major roads, including the N2 national highway. Although local police forcefully cleared the protesters from the highway, there were no immediate reports of casualties. Protests and demonstrations related to political issues, labour disputes and service delivery occur frequently in South Africa; these mostly affect lower-income, outlying areas of major urban centres and regularly impact on major highways that run through affected areas. Such gatherings often degenerate into violent confrontations between protesters and security forces. Clients in South Africa are advised to avoid all related gatherings and concentrations of security forces as a precaution against violent civil unrest.


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