1 April 2016

News summary

ARGENTINA - Nationalist protests possible for Dia del Malvinas
BRAZIL - Tens of thousands participate in pro-government rallies
COLOMBIA - Opposition protests expected countrywide
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - PLD election rallies in various areas
BANGLADESH - (Update) Casualties reported amid local elections in multiple areas
NEW CALEDONIA - Air traffic controllers' strike underway
PHILIPPINES - Disruptive protest reported in Cotabato province
THAILAND - Series of separatist bombings in Pattani province
BELGIUM - (Update) Authorities set to partially re-open Brussels Airport
BELGIUM - Opposing demonstrations possible in Brussels
FRANCE - (Update) Clashes in Paris and Nantes
SWEDEN - Goteborg Landvetter Airport evacuated
TURKEY - Government advisories in response to terrorism threat
UNITED KINGDOM - Rival demonstrations expected in Birmingham
BAHRAIN - Possible countrywide protests during motor racing event
IRAQ - (Update) Al-Sadr calls off sit-in in Baghdad but says protests will continue
GHANA - Security measures increased at airports countrywide
NIGER - Militant attack reported in Diffa
NIGERIA - Protests by pro-Biafra activists anticipated
SOMALIA - Six people killed in suicide attack in Galkayo, Puntland



ARGENTINA (Country risk rating: High); 2 April; Nationalist protests possible for Dia del Malvinas

Dia del Malvinas will be marked in Argentina on 2 April. There is a possibility of nationalist demonstrations on the day, which marks the 34th anniversary of the start of the Falkland Islands War, fought between Argentina and the UK in 1982. Tensions pertaining to the ownership of the Falkland Islands are expected to be further elevated on the day, and this may prompt civil unrest. In previous years, demonstrations have focused on the British Embassy on avenida Dr Luis Agote in the capital, Buenos Aires; other areas of the city that are prone to protests include Plaza de Mayo, Congreso Nacional and avenida 9 de Julio. Possible demonstrations pose a threat of low-level violence and traffic disruptions in and around affected areas. It should be noted that participants at all related gatherings are also likely to harbour some anti-British sentiment.

Advice: Clients in Argentina are advised to monitor local media for demonstration notices. All protest gatherings should be avoided, and caution should be exercised in the vicinity of British interests in the country, particularly in Buenos Aires. As a precautionary measure, British nationals and other Western nationals should maintain a low profile on 2 April.

BRAZIL (Country risk rating: High); 31 March; Tens of thousands participate in pro-government rallies

Tens of thousands of supporters of the ruling Workers' Party (PT) and members of the CUT trade union staged countrywide pro-government rallies across Brazil on 31 March. The rallies took place in 30 towns and cities, including Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and the capital Brasilia. The action was called in order to show support for current president Dilma Rousseff in light of opposition moves to impeach her over a corruption scandal involving state-run oil company, Petrobras. The demonstrations were the latest in a series of pro-government rallies held in recent months. Associated demonstrations have been marred by incidents of unrest, including clashes between police, participants and rival groups. Although the most recent one passed peacefully, the possibility of violence occurring at any further events cannot be discounted.

Advice: Persons in Brazil are advised to monitor local media for updates regarding additional demonstrations. Clients are also advised to avoid all large rallies and security force concentrations.

COLOMBIA (Country risk rating: High); 2 April; Opposition protests expected countrywide

Opposition supporters led by former president, Alvaro Uribe, and the opposition political party, Democratic Centre, have called for protests across Colombia on 2 April. The protests have been called to denounce government policy, including its economic policy and the ongoing peace process between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government. Protests are anticipated in major cities across the country, including in the capital, Bogota. The demonstrations are likely to be well attended given Uribe's continued popularity countrywide. The Democratic Centre, which holds approximately 20 percent of the seats in the Senate and 10 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives, also has a wide appeal. Protests are likely to conclude without major incident; however, low-level clashes between protesters and the police cannot be discounted.

Advice: Clients in Colombia on 2 April should monitor local media for updates and advisories from the authorities and for further information on the location of planned protests in their area of travel. All street protests should be avoided as a precaution. Furthermore, please note that clients are advised against all non-essential travel to rural and remote areas of Colombia, specifically to areas outside of secure urban and tourist centres (Bogota, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Santa Marta, Medellin and Santiago de Cali). This advisory is in place due to high levels of insecurity, partly as a result of the presence of non-state armed groups and the associated risks of kidnapping, conflict and terrorism.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (Country risk rating: Medium); 31 March to 3 April; PLD election rallies in various areas

The ruling Dominican Liberation Party will hold a series of rallies in various areas across the Dominican Republic until 3 April, ahead of the 2016 general election, which is scheduled to be held on 15 May. Rallies will also be held in the Pedro Brand and Los Alcarrizos municipalities of Santo Domingo province on 1 April. On 2 April, rallies will be held in Sabana de la Mar and Miches and on 4 April, rallies will be held in Guaraguo, Las Terrenas and Samana. A related march was held in the National District on 31 March; the event concluded without major incident. The upcoming rallies are likely to be well supported; as such, localised traffic disruptions are anticipated. It should be noted that political demonstrations in the Dominican Republic, including during election periods, have turned violent in the past and police tend to be heavy-handed in their response to such incidents. As such, while the upcoming rallies are expected to conclude peacefully, the possibility of similar skirmishes cannot be discounted.

Advice: Persons operating in the affected areas between 1 and 3 April are advised to avoid the upcoming rallies and all related gatherings as a precaution. Allowances should be made for localised traffic disruptions.

Asia and Pacific

BANGLADESH (Country risk rating: High); 31 March; (Update) Casualties reported amid local elections in multiple areas

Casualties were reported amid politically motivated acts of violence related to local elections in Bangladesh on 31 March. At least two people were killed in Hajratpur, located in Keraniganj and Chanchra, located in Jessore amid clashes between opposing political groupings. Additionally, a student was shot and killed by security forces amid unrest reported at Dhaka University. Clashes between supporters of the ruling Awami League (AL) and opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) resulted in at least two deaths in Sandwip, Chittagong. A number of suspected agitators were arrested; security forces allege ballot-snatching was reported at voting stations in parts of Jessore and Dhaka. In the eastern city of Comilla, AL and BNP supporters clashed outside a voting station, while in the northern Jamalpur district, voting was halted after protests over alleged electoral irregularities. Local elections in Bangladesh have regularly been marred by incidents of politically motivated violence in the past; more specifically, tensions remain elevated, particularly between the AL and the BNP, following the BNP-boycotted January 2014 general election. Moreover, in the most recent round of local elections, on 22 March, 13 people were killed and approximately 1,000 wounded in violent clashes between opposing groups of supporters. As such, the potential for further violence remains elevated in the run up to and during the other upcoming local election days, which are scheduled to take place on 23 April, 7 and 28 May, as well as 4 June.

Advice: Persons already in the country, or planning to travel there during the scheduled election period, are advised to avoid all large political gatherings and polling stations as a precaution. Local developments should be monitored closely.

NEW CALEDONIA (Country risk rating: Low); 1 April; Air traffic controllers' strike underway

Disruptions to travel are likely as air traffic controllers in New Caledonia commenced strike action on 1 April. The action was called due to labour disputes. New Caledonia's domestic airline, Air Caledonie, has cancelled several domestic flights, while delaying others to separate days. Information surrounding the strike is limited; however, both international and domestic flights are likely being affected.

Advice: Clients are advised to contact their travel provider or the airline for further information on the status of their flight(s).

PHILIPPINES (Country risk rating: Medium); 30 March to 1 April; Disruptive protest reported in Cotabato province

A disruptive farmers mass mobilisation campaign was reported in Kidapawan city, located in Cotabato province in the Philippines, since 30 March. The ongoing protest and accompanying agitation resulted in blockades on the Davao-Cotabato highway on 31 March and is expected to continue for an indefinite duration. Participants are demanding that local government units and the Department of Social Welfare and Development allocate funds to farmers affected by an ongoing drought in the region. Additionally, civil society groups are demanding the National Food Authority (NFA) release at least 15,000 sacks of rice to those affected. Numerous farmers, particularly those farming corn, rice, rubber and coconut, have been affected by a drought in the region. Protesters have stated that barricades and associated agitations would remain ongoing until sufficient government concessions were offered and agreed upon. The campaign has been well supported; authorities estimate at least 5,000 people from across the region have participated. The Davao-Cotabato highway is a major thoroughfare which connects Davao City with Cotabato City through Davao del Sur, North Cotabato and parts of Maguindanao. As such, significant travel disruptions are anticipated to continue in the affected areas. Given the currently elevated tensions regarding the aforementioned unresolved concerns and grievances, the agitations may remain ongoing in the short- to medium-term. Further agitation may be met with a forceful response.

Advice: Clients in the affected parts of Cotabato province in the near-term are advised to monitor local media for related updates. All street protests and concentrations of security forces should be avoided as a standard precaution. Clients should also make allowances for localised road traffic disruptions.

THAILAND (Country risk rating: Medium); 31 March; Series of separatist bombings in Pattani province

Thailand's restive Pattani province is experiencing an elevated surge in violence, after at least ten bombs exploded in the Yaring district in recent days, according to statements by Thai military officials. The blasts left one person dead and dozens more wounded, including 11 police officers. No group has claimed responsibility, but authorities blame the multitude of separatist groups operating in the region. The attacks follow an increase in violence in Thailand's southern provinces in recent weeks. These are related to the ongoing violent separatist campaign in the southern provinces, and serve to underscore the persistent levels of insecurity in the affected area. The aforementioned provinces have been plagued by decades of ethnically and religiously motivated violence, which stems from allegations of isolation and discrimination against Malay Muslims by Thailand's predominantly Buddhist government. Although attacks normally target security forces, civilians (particularly Buddhists) have also been targeted. As the conflict is ongoing, further incidents cannot be discounted.

Advice: Due to the ongoing Islamist insurgency and the high risks of conflict and terrorism, clients are advised against all travel to the provinces of Yala, Narathiwat, Pattani and Songkhla. Persons currently in the area should adhere to the directives of authorities and are advised to implement robust personal, travel and residential security measures at all times.

Europe and Russia

BELGIUM (Country risk rating: Medium); 31 March; (Update) Authorities set to partially re-open Brussels Airport

Authorities in Belgium's capital, Brussels, have granted Brussels Airport permission to partially restart commercial flight services from 1 April. Although it remains unclear exactly when airport operations will resume, airport authorities have made it clear that flights are not expected to commence until late on 1 April. In addition, due to the extensive damage caused to the departures terminal by the terrorist attack on 22 March, the airport will only process around 20 percent of the usual volume of departing passengers. Additional security checks, including baggage inspections at the airport entrance, are expected to cause further travel disruptions. Increased security measures, particularly additional deployments of security forces and stringent identification checks, should be expected at the airport and are likely to cause some travel delays. Further disruptions to travel services across the region should be anticipated as Belgium reviews and increases border controls and security measures in response to the incident.

Advice: Persons currently in Brussels are advised to exercise heightened situational and personal security awareness at all times. Persons scheduled to transit Brussels Airport in the coming days are advised to contact their travel provider or airline for an update on the status of their flight(s). Clients are further advised to report all suspicious packages or persons to the relevant authorities immediately.

BELGIUM (Country risk rating: Medium); 2 April; Opposing demonstrations possible in Brussels

Local authorities in the Molenbeek area of Brussels, in Belgium, are set to deploy additional police units to the Place Communale and surrounding area on 2 April due to the threat of rival demonstrations taking place despite a ban on related gatherings. Rival far-right and anti-fascist gatherings had been called for in Place Communale on 2 April before authorities banned the events, citing fears of violence. The demonstrations were banned following clashes at a similar gathering in Place de la Bourse, in central Brussels, on 27 March. Far-right demonstrators, under the banner of the Generation Identitaire group, stormed a memorial gathering in Place de la Bourse, clashed with police and harassed individuals who appeared to be of North African or Arabic descent. Far-right rallies often prompt counter-demonstrations by opposing groups. Should either or both the gatherings take place there is an elevated risk of clashes with police, who will likely attempt to disperse the protest.

Advice: Clients in Brussels on 2 April are advised to avoid all street protests and concentrations of security forces as a standard precaution.

FRANCE (Country risk rating: Medium); 31 March; (Update) Clashes in Paris and Nantes

Police clashed with small groups of unruly protesters at union-led demonstrations in France's capital, Paris, and Nantes, on 31 March. The demonstrations were organised to coincide with a general strike and took place in opposition to new labour laws. Police clashed with youths in Paris' Place de la Nation and in Nantes' Place Graslin, as well as near the Hotel Dieu. Related protests also took place in other urban centres, including Rennes, Bordeaux and Toulouse. The strike and protests were the latest actions in a campaign against new labour legislation in the country. The strike has been well supported and disruptions to business and transport services have been reported. Further clashes between protesters and police at related gatherings remain possible. In addition, the demonstrations have reportedly been well attended and localised traffic disruptions should be expected at any upcoming events.

Advice: Clients are advised to avoid all street protests and concentrations of security forces as a standard precaution.

SWEDEN (Country risk rating: Low); 31 March; Goteborg Landvetter Airport evacuated

Authorities evacuated the Goteborg Landvetter Airport, the second largest in Sweden, following reports indicating the discovery of several suspicious items on 31 March; however, police gave the all clear after inspecting the item and searching the terminal. Domestic arrival and departing flights were mostly affected by the disruption, with a number being delayed. Earlier reports indicating there was a controlled explosion were false.

Advice: Clients scheduled to transit Goteborg Landvetter Airport are advised to contact their airline or travel provider to enquire about the status of their flight(s). Clients are advised to remain vigilant at all times and report any suspicious packages, persons or activity to the relevant authorities.

TURKEY (Country risk rating: High); 19 to 31 March; Government advisories in response to terrorism threat

A spate of acts of terrorism in Turkey in 2016, including in the capital, Ankara, and Istanbul, and warnings from the Turkish government, has led a number of foreign governments to review their advisories for the country. Countries that have recently issued updated advisories include Israel (28 March), the US (29 March) and Australia (30 March). The warnings follow an increase in mass casualty bombings in major urban centres since October 2015, including three in Ankara and two in Istanbul. Recently, on 30 March, a bomb detonated in Diyarbakir killing seven police officials. The spate of attacks has occurred in popular tourist areas, near security force targets and in public venues. Major attacks have been claimed by Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) or blamed on the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The government has also alleged that Islamic State (IS) was responsible for some recent attacks, including the bombing in Istanbul on 19 March, which left a number of people dead. These incidents have raised concern regarding the counterterrorism capability of the local security forces and their ability to detect and prevent attacks. Further attacks are anticipated, including in major urban centres, areas popular with tourists (including resorts along the southern coast), near the Syrian border and in the restive south east of the country. Crowded public areas, police and military interests, tourist locations, the public transport system, religious sites (Jewish, Christian and Muslim) and government buildings/sites are probable targets.

Advice: For red24's full travel advisory, please click here. Clients in Turkey should exercise caution near possible terrorist targets and should maintain an elevated level of personal security awareness at all times, particularly in these areas.

UNITED KINGDOM (Country risk rating: Low); 2 April; Rival demonstrations expected in Birmingham

Rival demonstrations are expected in Birmingham, in the UK, on 2 April. Far-right group, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident (PEGIDA) UK is set to stage a silent protest march on the day, with participants expected to gather outside the Birmingham International railway station from 13:00 local time and proceed to the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) (located on North Avenue), where a rally will be held. Anti-fascist groups, including Unite Against Fascism will hold a demonstration at Victoria Square from 13:00. PEGIDA has grown in popularity in Europe, with local groups and branches being formed in different countries. Associated demonstrations by the group and its various factions have often been met by counter-demonstrations by rival groups. Although the upcoming march and demonstrations are expected to conclude peacefully, the possibility of isolated skirmishes cannot be discounted. Localised travel disruptions should be anticipated in the affected areas.

Advice: Persons in Birmingham on 2 April are advised to avoid all large street gatherings and concentrations of security forces as a standard precaution. Localised travel disruptions are anticipated at associated gatherings sites.

Middle East and North Africa

BAHRAIN (Country risk rating: High); 1 to 3 April; Possible countrywide protests during motor racing event

The Formula One Grand Prix will be held from 1 to 3 April in Bahrain. The race is being held at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. The main event will be held during the evening of 3 April. Security is expected to be increased during the event. Additional police patrols and checkpoints are likely on routes between the capital, Manama, Sakhir, and at the race venue. The security posture is in response to the risk of anti-government protests. Demonstrations are anticipated in Maqabah from 16:30 local time and in Bani Jamra from 19:30 on 1 April. Furthermore, protests have been called in several areas of the country between 1 and 3 April. Further details have not been provided. Opposition protests have been ongoing in Bahrain for a number of years. Major events, including the annual race event in Sakhir, have been affected by a spike in protests in the past as demonstrators have attempted to gain attention for their political objectives. While demonstrations are unlikely to disrupt the actual event, gatherings in surrounding communities are anticipated. These gatherings could take the form of street protest or road blockades. Should protesters attempt to block main roads, disrupt the event or attempt to enter Manama, the risk of violence between police and protesters will increase.

Advice: Clients are advised against all non-essential travel to Bahrain, excluding Manama, the Bahrain International Airport and main roads leading from the airport to the capital. Persons travelling in the country should avoid travel at night and should avoid all street protests as a precaution.

IRAQ (Country risk rating: High); 31 March and 1 April; (Update) Al-Sadr calls off sit-in in Baghdad but says protests will continue

Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadrist Movement and the spiritual leader of the al-Ahrar Bloc in Iraq's Parliament, issued an order on 31 March for his followers to end a sit-in protest against the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The protesters, who had been gathered in the Green Zone (International Zone) in the capital, Baghdad, were pressing the prime minister to appoint a new technocratic cabinet as a step towards ending corruption. Al-Abadi nominated a new cabinet on 31 March ending two weeks of peaceful protests. Al-Sadr has however called on his followers to continue with protests on 1 April following Friday prayers to demand that Parliament approve the new cabinet. The appointment of a new technocratic cabinet and the end of the sit-in is a positive development and will serve to de-escalate political tensions and the threat of violent civil unrest. However, the proposed cabinet may face opposition in Parliament. If the process to affirm the new appointees is delayed, a re-escalation in tensions is possible. Protests on Friday are anticipated in Baghdad. Sadr City, the Green Zone or Tahrir Square are possible gathering points. Protests further south, in cities where al-Sadr has support, such as Karbala, Hilla, Najaf, Basra, Amarah and Nasriyah, are also expected to persist.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel to Baghdad, Karbala and Babil, and all non-essential travel to several southern governorates, including Wasit, Muthanna, Najaf, Basra, Dhi Qar, Maysan and Qadisiyah. Persons operating in these areas should monitor local developments closely and seek to avoid all street protests.

Sub-Saharan Africa

GHANA (Country risk rating: Medium); 31 March; Security measures increased at airports countrywide

Additional security measures were implemented at Kotoka International Airport, which serves Ghana's capital, Accra, as well as other airports in the country on 31 March. Along with an increased police and military presence, persons are to be screened before entering the departure halls at airports; all unauthorised persons will no longer be permitted into access restricted areas nor park in front of the terminals. The increased security is as a result of recent terrorist attacks in the West African sub-region, specifically the attack in Cote d'Ivoire on 13 March which left at least 18 people dead. The threat from terrorism in Ghana is assessed as low. There are no known terrorist groups operating in the country and there are no recognised threats stemming from any regional or international terrorist groups. Nonetheless, the aforementioned attack has heightened concerns over further attacks in areas outside of militant groups' traditional areas of operation. As a result of the increased security, there is a possibility of delays and disruptions when transiting air travel hubs.

Advice: Clients are advised to follow instructions from airport authorities and to anticipate and plan for possible travel delays at all airports in Ghana.

NIGER (Country risk rating: High); 30 March; Militant attack reported in Diffa

At least six Nigerian soldiers were killed and a further three wounded in a suspected militant attack in an unspecified location near Diffa, located in the eponymous region of Niger, on 30 March. Militants said to be aligned to the Islamist extremist sect, Boko Haram, reportedly ambushed soldiers while on patrol in the area. Following the Nigerien government's operational and logistical support of regional anti-Boko Haram initiatives, the sect has executed a number of retaliatory attacks targeting settlements near the Nigerian border in Niger's southern Dosso, Diffa and Zinder regions. These attacks are likely to continue as long as Niger is involved in counterinsurgency operations against the sect.

Advice: Due to the threats of conflict, kidnapping and terrorism, all travel to areas within a 50km radius of Niger's shared border with Nigeria in the former's Diffa and Zinder regions is advised against. Clients operating in these regions despite this advisory should ensure that all movements are coordinated in the presence of a security escort and that accommodation is sought in secured residential compounds.

NIGERIA (Country risk rating: High); 1 April; Protests by pro-Biafra activists anticipated

Pro-Biafra activist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), have threatened mass protests on 1 April to demand the release of 76 people abducted by soldiers in the Ugwuneshi village in Awgu local government area of Enugu state, Nigeria, in recent days. According to reports, youth from the rural Awgu local government area gathered to look for two women who were allegedly abducted by Fulani herdsmen on an unspecified date. According to reports the Nigerian army then detained the youth, holding them at federal prisons in Afara, Umuahia. Protests are likely to occur in the states of Abia, Anambra, Delta, Enugu and Rivers. In addition, the activists have threatened further protests over the continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the secessionist IPOB group and director of Radio Biafra. Kanu was arrested in late October 2015 on charges related to controversial broadcasts made by Radio Biafra. The arrests are particularly sensitive in light of increasing accusations of human rights abuses committed against pro-Biafran activists by Nigerian security forces in recent months. Protest campaigns calling for Kanu's release have been ongoing for several months, many of which have been marred by incidents of violent unrest and associated disruptions. Despite the level of protests dying down in recent weeks, the risk of a significant uptick in Biafra-related civil unrest is rated high.

Advice: Due to various security concerns, all non-essential travel to Nigeria is advised against, while all travel to Rivers State and Delta State is advised against. Clients in the country's south and south eastern regions should monitor local developments and avoid all protests and gatherings.

SOMALIA (Country risk rating: Extreme); 31 March; Six people killed in suicide attack in Galkayo, Puntland

At least six people have been killed in a suicide bombing in the city of Galkayo, in Somalia's Galmudug region, on 31 March. Reports indicate that the attack occurred near the Unlay Hotel, with the treasurer of Galkayo among the deceased. Islamist militant group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack comes shortly after the conclusion of days of clashes between Puntland security forces and al-Shabaab militants. Puntland security forces claim to have killed or captured over 200 militants before the battle ended on 28 March. The clashes are concerning insofar as they indicate the operational extension of the militant group to Somalia's northern regions, away from the central and southern Somalia and around the capital, Mogadishu. This may be a tactic designed to draw central government and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces towards the north, to relieve al-Shabaab forces in its central and southern bases. These bases have lost territory in their traditional strongholds as a result of AMISOM and government victories.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel to most of Somalia, and against all non-essential travel to Somaliland and Puntland. Persons in the country should adopt robust personal, travel and residential security measures and should seek to limit travel outside of major cities.