1 December 2016


News summary

 
ARGENTINA - Municipal workers to strike and hold rallies
BRAZIL - Anti-austerity protests expected to persist countrywide
HAITI - Civil unrest over preliminary election results to persist in the capital and elsewhere
MEXICO - Flight disruptions at Hermanos Serdan International Airport
NICARAGUA - Activist groups call for protests in Managua
PERU - Protesters cause disruptions in Andahuaylas amid ongoing strike
PERU - (Update) State of emergency declared amid protest in San Roman
UNITED STATES / CANADA - Winter weather warnings in several areas
UNITED STATES - (Update) Casualties reported amid wildfires in Tennessee
UNITED STATES - Activist-led protest in Charlotte
 
AUSTRALIA - Severe weather warning issued
INDIA - Strike call extended in Jammu and Kashmir state
INDIA / SRI LANKA - Tropical Storm Nada impacting the region
INDONESIA - Union-led demonstration scheduled in Jakarta
INDONESIA - (Update) Large-scale prayer gathering to take place in Jakarta
NEPAL - Anti-constitutional amendment protests in southern districts
SOUTH KOREA - (Update) President to resign amid elevated political tension
SRI LANKA - (Update) Countrywide rail service disruptions due to unionised rail workers strike
THAILAND - Authorities foil terrorist plot in Bangkok and elsewhere
 
FRANCE - Union-led subway workers' strike in Lyon to persist
GERMANY - Disposal of WWII bomb in Holten, Oberhausen
IRELAND - (Update) CityJet pilots' strike to disrupt flight services
 
No new significant incidents reported. Refer to the red24 website for country-specific security risk assessments for this region.
 
BENIN - Suspected act of piracy off the southern coastline
MALI - Several militants attacks in northern regions
NIGERIA - Calabar Carnival to take place amid elevated security measures
NIGERIA - Chinese national killed in Nasarawa state
NIGERIA - Elevated threat of unrest over court ruling in Abuja
NIGERIA - Scores killed following communal violence in Kogi state
SOMALIA - Security forces to launch offensive on Qandala
SUDAN - Elevated tensions in Omdurman following earlier unrest
SOUTH SUDAN - MSF staff evacuated after base ransacked in Mundri
 





 

Americas

ARGENTINA (Country risk rating: High); 1 December; Municipal workers to strike and hold rallies

Municipal workers involved with the Association of State Workers (ATE) union are expected to hold countrywide strike action across Argentina and associated protests in the capital, Buenos Aires, during the course of 1 December. The industrial action has been called to demand salary increases and better job security. Demonstrators are expected to gather at the Argentine Federation of Municipalities (FAM) building and the National Congress building on the day. The exact starting time of the gatherings is unclear. Similar rallies are possible in other larger urban centres. The agitation is the latest union-led action in Argentina; most of these have been sparked generally by President Mauricio Macri's economic policies. Should the protests proceed, precedent suggests that they will be peaceful, albeit disruptive, particularly in the capital. Nonetheless, the risk of low-level violence at any related events cannot be discounted. The aforementioned grievances are unlikely to be resolved in the short-term; as such, further associated protests are possible in the coming weeks.

Advice: Clients in Argentina, particularly in Buenos Aires, on 1 December should monitor local media for updates on the details of possible protests, and should avoid all large street gatherings as a standard precaution. Allowances should be made for potential localised disruptions.


BRAZIL (Country risk rating: High); 29 November to 13 December; Anti-austerity protests expected to persist countrywide

On 29 November, a vote by Brazil's senate to pass the controversial proposed constitutional amendment (PEC 55), sparked widespread civil unrest in the capital, Brasilia. Police made use of teargas to disperse protesters outside the National Congress building; media reports indicate that approximately 10,000 people participated in the protests. Numerous incidents of vandalism and damage to property were also reported. The final vote will now be taken to Brazil's National Congress on 13 December. The proposed constitutional amendments, which would restrict public spending for up to 20 years, have sparked numerous large-scale, disruptive protests in Brazil in recent weeks. Further protests of this nature are expected in urban centres ahead of and during the 13 December National Congress vote. Given that previous related protests have been marred by low-level violence between protesters and police forces, the possibility of violence at the upcoming protest cannot be discounted.

Advice: Clients in Brazil in the near-term are advised to monitor local media for updates on related political developments and possible protests. All large street gatherings should be avoided as a standard precaution. Persons in the country should plan for potential disruptions.


HAITI (Country risk rating: High); 28 November to 1 December; Civil unrest over preliminary election results to persist in the capital and elsewhere

On 28 November, the Provisional Electoral Council (CNE) in Haiti announced the preliminary results of the 20 November poll. These results indicated a victory for Jovenel Moise of the Haitian Tet Kale Party (PHTK), with 55.6 percent of the vote. The results have sparked numerous protests, particularly in the capital, Port-au-Prince, by supporters of losing candidates, including supporters of the runner-up, Jude Celestin, as well as supporters of the Fanmi Lavalas party. Moise has been the anticipated winner of the 20 November poll; as such, a run-off election is unlikely to be held in January 2017. Protests relating to the election results are expected to persist in the near-term as contending candidates are expected to challenge these results. In the capital, protests have been reported in the Petionville area, as well as in the Fanmi Lavalas stronghold of La Saline. Some of these protests have been marred by incidents of vandalism and low-level violence between protesters and police forces. Sporadic gunshots have also been reported at times, but it is unclear if these have been related to the unrest. Further violence of this nature is expected at all related protests.

Advice: Clients are advised against all non-essential travel to Haiti due to a number of security concerns. Persons in the country, specifically Port-au-Prince, are advised to monitor local developments and to avoid all politically motivated gatherings and concentrations of security force personnel.


MEXICO (Country risk rating: High); 30 November; Flight disruptions at Hermanos Serdan International Airport

The eruption of the Popocatepetl volcano, in Mexico's Puebla state, caused the temporary shutdown of Hermanos Serdan International Airport, which serves the city of Puebla, on 30 November as a result of the ash cloud. The airport was closed due to visibility problems and safety concerns, as well as to clean up ashfall from the runway. The facility re-opened at 15:00 local time on the same day. Residual disruptions due to the backlog of flights should be anticipated. Popocatepetl has recently seen an intermittent increase in seismic activity, flights were suspended in late January and in April due to eruptions. Further activity at Popocatepetl volcano may prompt additional flight cancellations over the near-term.

Advice: Persons scheduled to transit Hermanos Serdan International Airport in the near-term are advised to contact their travel provider or airline directly to confirm the status of their flight(s).


NICARAGUA (Country risk rating: Medium); 1 December; Activist groups call for protests in Managua

Several activist groups are expected to attend protests organised by the Movimiento por Nicaragua (MpN) in Nicaragua's capital, Managua, on 1 December. The protests have been organised over a number of issues, including denouncing the results of the 6 November election, as well as in support of the rights of indigenous and agrarian groups. Details regarding the time and location of the protests have not been disclosed. Given the large number of organisations that have extended their support to the protests, all related gatherings are expected to be well attended and will likely result in localised disruptions to travel. Additionally, media reports indicate that some agrarian groups have suspended their own protests on the day after police forcibly attempted to prevent them from reaching the capital; at least 13 people were wounded in the violence. A further 18 people have been reported missing. In light of this precedent, the risk of violence at the upcoming protests is credible.

Advice: Clients in Managua on 1 December should avoid all protests as a standard precaution. Allowances should be made for potential disruptions.


PERU (Country risk rating: Medium); 24 November to 1 December; Protesters cause disruptions in Andahuaylas amid ongoing strike

Protesters have continued to blockade numerous roads and highways in the Andahuaylas area of Peru's Apurimac region, since launching a strike, for an indefinite period, on 24 November. The affected roads include the Andahuaylas-Ayacucho-Lima and Andahuaylas-Abancay-Cusco highways, where significant disruptions to road travel have been reported. The agitation is in protest against perceived corruption and organised crime, as well as in response to grievances in the health, education and agricultural sectors. It is unclear when the strike and associated actions will conclude. Protests have been marred by incidents of vandalism as well as isolated skirmishes. The risk of further violence increases the longer the strike and roadblocks proceed, particularly if police attempt to remove or dismantle road blockades. Furthermore, disruptions to business operations and transport services should be expected for the duration of the strike.

Advice: Clients in the Andahuaylas area in the near-term should monitor related developments closely. Travellers should confirm the status of roads and transport services with their travel provider or the relevant transport authority prior to departure. All street protests and roadblocks should be avoided; motorists should seek alternative routes if confronted by a roadblock.


PERU (Country risk rating: Medium); 30 November; (Update) State of emergency declared amid protest in San Roman

Authorities declared a 30-day state of emergency in the San Roman province, in Peru's southern Puno region, on 30 November. In accordance with the measure, various constitutional rights, including the right to freedom of assembly and movement, have been temporarily suspended. Additionally, the national police and armed forces have been tasked with ensuring adherence to the order in the province. The state of emergency order was issued after a strike action led to disruptive civil unrest in Juliaca, the capital city of San Roman. The agitation had been launched to protest against perceived corruption and organised crime, as well as in response to grievances in the health, education and agricultural sectors. The aforementioned agitation forms part of an ongoing strike campaign which has been reported in various parts of the country, including in the Apurimac region, since 24 November. As a result of disruptive road blockades and acts of vandalism, including acts or arson, orchestrated by agitators, local authorities saw fit to implement the order in an effort to prevent any further such disruptions in San Roman. In light of this, elevated security measures including, the deployment of additional security force personnel and travel restrictions, are anticipated during the duration of the order. It should be noted that protests or street gatherings that take place during this period, will carry an elevated risk of violence. Furthermore, as the strike action is still ongoing in other regions of the country, disruptions to business operations and transport services should be expected for the duration of the strike.

Advice: Clients in Peru in the near-term should monitor related developments closely. Travellers should confirm the status of roads and transport services with their travel provider or the relevant transport authority prior to departure. All street protests and roadblocks should be avoided; motorists should seek alternative routes if confronted by a roadblock.


UNITED STATES / CANADA; 1 December; Winter weather warnings in several areas

Several winter weather warnings are in place in south eastern Canada and parts of the US, on 1 December. The affected areas in Canada include New Brunswick and parts of Quebec South. In the US, a winter storm warning is in effect in Aroostook county, in the state of Maine, along the Canada-US border. These warnings are set to remain in place for the remainder of 1 December, at least. Poor visibility due to significant snowfall and strong winds is likely, making road travel extremely dangerous, particularly in the affected areas of south eastern Canada and Maine. Winter weather conditions may also prompt the closure of roads. In addition to road travel disruptions, air and rail travel is also likely to be affected.

Advice: Clients travelling in the affected areas are advised to monitor local media for updates and advisories. Scheduled transport services should be confirmed prior to departure with a travel or transport provider.


UNITED STATES (Country risk rating: Medium); 30 November; (Update) Casualties reported amid wildfires in Tennessee

Reports on 30 November indicate that at least seven people have been killed and a further 53 injured in eastern Tennessee, in the US, due to a number of wildfires that continue to burn in Gatlinburg's area. Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and surrounding areas have been affected; as such, evacuation orders are expected to remain in place in the short-term at least. At least 700 structures have been destroyed by the blaze. Inclement weather, including high winds, aggravated the fire on 29 November, making it difficult for emergency services to curb the blaze. Heavy rains helped suppress the fire; however, has also caused disruptions and challenges to authorities. Road disruptions due to fallen trees, as well as power outages, have been reported in the area. Gatlinburg serves as the gateway to the Great Smokey Mountains, an attractive tourist destination. In addition, travel disruptions in the affected area are likely to continue. As emergency services continue to assess the fire damage, further reports of infrastructural destruction, as well as a rise in casualty numbers, are possible.

Advice: Clients in the affected areas in the coming days are advised to follow local media for updates and should adhere to evacuation orders and all advisories issued by local authorities. Allowances should be made for travel disruptions in the affected areas.


UNITED STATES (Country risk rating: Medium); 30 November; Activist-led protest in Charlotte

Members of the 'Charlotte uprising' civil society coalition group led a demonstration outside of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) headquarters, in the US city of Charlotte, on 30 November. The action was launched to protest a court decision not to charge an officer involved in a recent shooting. The aforementioned protest came amid elevated tensions in the city. Related demonstrations between 21 and 25 September, which were sparked by the fatal shooting of a black male, Keith Lamont Scott, at the hands of the police on 20 September, were marred by low-level violent altercations between security personnel and protesters. Low-level skirmishes between police and demonstrators resulted in at least nine arrests at the recent protest. Due to the emotive nature of the issue, further related demonstrations are anticipated in the short-term. Officials state that local law enforcement is on alert and will work 12-hour shifts to deter and deal with any violent demonstrations in the coming days.

Advice: Clients in Charlotte are advised to avoid all street gatherings and security force concentrations as a standard precaution. Clients are further advised to follow the directives of local authorities and to anticipate travel disruptions in the affected areas.


Asia and Pacific

AUSTRALIA (Country risk rating: Low); 30 November; Severe weather warning issued

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) in Australia issued a severe thunderstorm warning for parts of Queensland and New South Wales on 30 November. Heavy rains, damaging winds and hailstones are to affect several areas, including Gympie, Somerset, Sunshine Coast, Noosa Council Areas, Wide Bay-Burnett and the Southeast Coast in Queensland, and the Mid North Coast, Hunter and Northern Tablelands regions of New South Wales. The BOM regularly issues adverse weather alerts between October and April, as the country is typically prone to storm systems during this period. Inclement weather conditions in the affected areas may result in travel delays and disruptions to electricity supply, due to possible infrastructural damage. Utility disruptions to water and telecommunications are also possible.

Advice: Persons in the affected areas are advised to monitor local media for weather-related advisories as well as any directives from the authorities. Updates on the aforementioned weather warnings can be accessed on the BOM website. Clients planning to travel to affected areas in the next 24 hours are advised to anticipate potential weather-related travel disruptions.


INDIA (Country risk rating: High); 8 December; Strike call extended in Jammu and Kashmir state

Separatist groups have extended a general strike in India's Jammu and Kashmir state, until 8 December. Demonstrations and associated marches will be held in many areas in the Kashmir Valley during this period. However, strike action will be suspended for the full day both on 3 and 4 December, and between 16:00 and 08:00 local time on 7 and 8 December. All educational institutions, main markets, public transport and other businesses, as well as mobile internet services, are anticipated to remain intermittently suspended in affected areas. Jammu and Kashmir state has been experiencing sustained anti-Indian civil unrest since 9 July. The violence was initially triggered by the deaths of popular Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, and two other militants on 8 July. Since then, approximately 100 people have been killed and thousands more wounded in clashes between protesters and the police. Tensions are expected to remain elevated in the region for the short-term; however, the full relaxation of strike conditions on 3 and 4 December are a positive development in the security dynamic. Moreover, a degree of strike fatigue is beginning to set in, and some locals are not adhering to the shutdown calls. Nonetheless, the security situation has yet to normalise. This is especially pertinent in light of the fact that various separatist groupings continue to call for protests. As such, disruptions to travel and business services are expected to persist.

Advice: Clients are advised against all non-essential travel to Jammu and Kashmir state (except the eastern Ladakh region) due to a number of ongoing security concerns. Persons in the state should avoid all street protests as a standard precaution. Clients are advised to adjust itineraries to cater for potential travel delays, as further associated protests are likely, and to request regular updates from their security provider.


INDIA / SRI LANKA; 1 December; Tropical Storm Nada impacting the region

Tropical Storm Nada is impacting south eastern parts of India, and northern and central Sri Lanka, on 1 December. It is currently located approximately 700km from land, moving in a westerly to north westerly direction, and is forecast to make landfall over Tamil Nadu state overnight on 1/2 December, according to current weather models. Nada is not currently forecast to strengthen beyond a tropical storm. Tamil Nadu's administrative capital, Chennai, received moderate rain from late on 30 November, while heavy rainfall has been forecast for the northern coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on 1 December. In Sri Lanka, the storm is not expected to make direct landfall, but is bringing high winds and heavy rains to the Northern, Eastern and North Central provinces; this is expected to last until 2 December. The Disaster Management Centre (DMC) has warned that the districts of Mullaitivu and Jaffna will be worst impacted by the inclement weather. Given that the storm is travelling at a relatively high speed and is not likely to strengthen considerably, its impact may not be especially severe. Nonetheless, adverse weather conditions associated with the storm, including heavy rainfall, strong winds and coastal storm surges, should be expected over the coming days in the affected areas. Localised flooding, particularly in low-lying areas, is possible. In addition, disruptions to road, rail and air travel, as well as utility services, are likely.

Advice: Clients in or planning to be in the affected areas of India and Sri Lanka in the coming days are advised to monitor local media for updates and advisories from the authorities. Persons intending on travelling in the aforementioned areas in the coming days should maintain contact with their travel provider for updates on the status of their travel arrangements.


INDONESIA (Country risk rating: High); 2 December; Union-led demonstration scheduled in Jakarta

A demonstration, led by the Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSPI), is scheduled to take place in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, on 2 December. The agitation stems from an opposition towards the government proposed annual increase in minimum wages. Authorities have asked a number of unions that have scheduled rallies for the day, to postpone their demonstrations, as they coincide with a large-scale prayer gathering, which is expected to draw thousands of supporters. Nevertheless, the KSPI has announced that it will proceed with the rally, and officials have indicated that they will likely join the mass-prayer gathering, which is expected to take place at the National Monument Square (Monas). An elevated security presence is expected on the day. While the demonstration is anticipated to proceed peacefully, the possibility of low-level incidents of unrest cannot be discounted, particularly if participants join the mass-prayer gathering, which also carries an elevated risk of unrest. In addition, localised road travel disruptions should be anticipated in the vicinity of the protest-affected sites. The union-led demonstration is not likely to affect business operations on the day.

Advice: Persons in Jakarta are advised to avoid all large street gatherings and concentrations of security forces. Furthermore, allowances should be made for potential road travel disruptions in protest-affected areas.


INDONESIA (Country risk rating: High); 2 December; (Update) Large-scale prayer gathering to take place in Jakarta

A large-scale prayer gathering, initiated by the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesia Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI) and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), is scheduled to take place in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, on 2 December. Participants will hold a mass prayer at the National Monument Square (Monas) from 08:00 local time, after which participants will continue to conduct prayers in Jalan Thamrin and Sudirman, until 13:00. Authorities will deploy at least 200,000 security personnel in the vicinity of major thoroughfares, including Medan Merdeka Utara, Medan Merdeka Selatan, Medan Merdeka Timur and Medan Merdeka Barat, as a precaution against unrest. Although authorities have sanctioned the gathering, which is intended to be a mass-prayer service, elements within the aforementioned groups have stated their intention to publicly oppose former Jakarta governor, Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama, amid the event. The gathering is likely to carry a considerable amount of anti-Ahok sentiment, as hardline Muslim organisations continue to publicly state their opposition to the former Jakarta governor, who is currently facing charges under the blasphemy article in Indonesia's criminal code and will face up to 5 years imprisonment if found guilty. Given the emotive nature of the issue, prevailing sectarian divisions and the anti-Chinese / western sentiment carried by some of the participating groups, the potential for violence is expected to remain elevated amid the upcoming prayer gathering. In addition, authorities have indicated that as many as 600,000 people are due to attend the event. As such, a significant security force presence and severe traffic disruptions are anticipated in the vicinity of Monument Square and adjacent roads.

Advice: Persons in Jakarta on 2 December are advised to avoid the upcoming event, any related gatherings and all concentrations of security forces as a precaution. Clients should also anticipate localised traffic disruptions in the affected areas.


NEPAL (Country risk rating: High); 30 November; Anti-constitutional amendment protests in southern districts

Protests related to proposed constitutional amendments took place in numerous areas in southern Nepal on 30 November. Unrest was reported in the districts of Palpa, Gulmi, Arghakhanchi, Kapilvastu, Nawalparasi and Butwal. In addition, a strike/protest known locally as 'banda' will take place in the Palpa district on 3 December; this may be extended to other districts in the days ahead. Travel disruptions were reported on the East-West and Siddhartha highways due to roadblocks and protesters burning debris on the road. The unrest stems from opposition by the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) (CPN-UML) to a government-registered bill in Parliament, which proposes the creation of a separate state in southern Nepal to accommodate the Madhesi ethnic community. The new state will entail splitting up Province 5. Unrest related to Madhesi demands for greater political rights has been ongoing in the southern regions in recent years, and has often resulted in violence and fatalities. Protests are likely to continue in the near-term and may spread to the capital, Kathmandu.

Advice: Persons in Nepal are advised to monitor local developments closely for information on protests and associated strikes. All demonstrations and concentrations of security forces should be avoided as a standard precaution.


SOUTH KOREA (Country risk rating: Low); 1 December; (Update) President to resign amid elevated political tension

South Korea's president, Park Geun Hye, will resign from office amid an ongoing corruption scandal and related large-scale gatherings in recent weeks opposing her rule. Park announced on 29 November, that she will step down once Parliament chooses an appropriate resignation date and can ensure an orderly transition of power. The recent political development is unlikely to prompt any major political upheaval in the country; however, demonstrations are expected to continue in the short-term at least. An anti-Park rally has reportedly been scheduled to take place in Seoul on 3 December. Although Park was implicated in the corruption scandal by a special prosecutor on 20 November, she continues to deny the allegation. Opposition groups claim that the announcement by Park is a ploy to avoid impeachment proceedings which were initially scheduled for 2 December. An impeachment vote has now been extended; unconfirmed reports indicate that it could take place on 9 December. If opposition groups succeed with an impeachment vote, a decline in support at associated demonstrations is anticipated. However, if impeachment proceedings fail, a debate in the National Assembly for an appropriate date for Park to step down could take weeks. A delay in Park's resignation is likely to spark further demonstrations in urban centres across the country, including the capital. Presidential elections will be held within sixty days from when the president resigns or is impeached, in which case the prime minister, will serve as interim. Although associated protests have concluded without major incident, all related demonstrations are likely to be met with an elevated security presence. In addition, travel disruptions in the affected areas are possible.

Advice: Clients in South Korea are advised to monitor local media for updates regarding Park's resignation and possible associated demonstrations. All protests should be avoided as a standard precaution. Allowances should be made for travel disruptions in protest-affected area.


SRI LANKA (Country risk rating: Medium); 1 December; (Update) Countrywide rail service disruptions due to unionised rail workers strike

Rail services in Sri Lanka are expected to be severely disrupted due to a strike by rail workers affiliated with Sri Lanka Railways. The 24-hour strike will commence from 00:01 on 1 December. The action has been launched to protest against pension and administrative reforms and is expected to affect services countrywide. The announcement coincides with an indefinite countrywide strike called for by the All Ceylon Private Bus Owner's Association (ACPBOA) on 1 December. Given that the rail strike action is part of an ongoing labour dispute, the strike may be extended or suspended on an ad hoc basis. An increased demand for alternative forms of transport is expected.

Advice: Persons intending to utilise railway services on 1 December are advised to monitor local media for updates regarding the strike. Travellers should contact the rail operator or their travel providers for updates on the status of available services.


THAILAND (Country risk rating: Medium); 30 November; Authorities foil terrorist plot in Bangkok and elsewhere

Authorities in Thailand have arrested three suspected militants on 30 November on suspicion of conducting bomb attacks in the capital, Bangkok, and surrounding provinces. The suspects reportedly planned to target six tourist locations; however, details of the specific locations have not been provided. The persons arrested were all local nationals. There is a medium threat of terrorism in Thailand. The threat stems from numerous quarters, including regional Islamist organisations and Islamist insurgencies. The threat is elevated in the southern provinces of Yala, Narathiwat, Pattani and Songkhla due to an ongoing separatist insurgency. However, small-scale bomb and grenade attacks have been reported in other areas, including Bangkok. Authorities have remained on high alert since a spate of bombings across Thailand on 11 and 12 August. As the recent foiled attack highlights, authorities in Thailand have the capacity to somewhat mitigate the threat from the aforementioned quarters; however, the underlying risk remains, and as such, further attacks outside Thailand's restive south are anticipated. Likely methods of attack include large- or small-scale conventional bombings, suicide bombings or shootings. Likely targets include government facilities, security installations and tourist/western interests.

Advice: Clients in Thailand, particularly the capital, Bangkok, are advised to exercise a heightened level of personal security awareness. All suspicious packages and persons should be immediately reported to local authorities. All non-essential travel to Thailand's southern provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani is advised against due to the threat of terrorism. Heightened caution is advised in Thailand's border regions.


Europe and Russia

FRANCE (Country risk rating: Medium); 1 December; Union-led subway workers' strike in Lyon to persist

Subway rail workers, affiliated with the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), are set to continue striking in Lyon, France, for an indefinite period, on 1 December. Furthermore, the CGT has called on other public transport operators, including tram and bus drivers, to join in the action; the strike has been ongoing since 28 November. Local officials are said to have implemented contingency measures, including bus shuttle services, in order to limit the impact of the strike on passengers. The action has been launched due to disputes regarding subway safety regulations. Given that negotiations are ongoing, the strike action may be extended or suspended on an ad hoc basis. Although it remains unclear whether other members affiliated with CGT will join in the action, disruptions to other forms of public transport, including buses and trams, cannot be discounted during the duration of the protest.

Advice: Clients in Lyon in the coming days are advised to monitor local media for updates regarding the strike action. Clients are further advised to confirm the status of their travel arrangements with their respective service providers.


GERMANY (Country risk rating: Low); 30 November; Disposal of WWII bomb in Holten, Oberhausen

Localised travel and business disruptions were reported in the Holten area, in the city of Oberhausen, in Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia state, on 30 November, due to an army operation to defuse two Second World War-era bombs. The undetonated explosives were discovered during construction work on 28 November. The defusal proceeded without incident. Authorities erected a 500 metre exclusion zone around the bombs and evacuated a number or properties; traffic disruptions were reported. Urban centres in Germany were subjected to heavy bombing during the final stages of the Second World War; many devices failed to explode and have subsequently been found during construction work. The disposal or detonation of these bombs generally concludes without incident, although this can often result in significant travel disruptions.

Advice: Persons should report all suspicious persons or packages to the relevant authorities immediately.


IRELAND (Country risk rating: Low); 1 and 2 December; (Update) CityJet pilots' strike to disrupt flight services

Unionised pilots of regional airline, CityJet, are currently engaged in a 48-hour strike across Ireland on 1 and 2 December. The strike was called with regard to a number of disputes relating to airline administration, as well as working conditions and wages. An associated demonstration is possible outside the CityJet offices located along Balheary Road, in the Swords area, Dublin, later on 1 December. Negotiations between the union, employees and management are reportedly ongoing; as such, the possibility of the strike being cancelled or postponed on an ad hoc basis cannot be dismissed. Related flight disruptions and/or delays should be expected on the affected days.

Advice: Persons intending to utilise CityJet services are advised to contact their travel provider or the airline directly for updates regarding the action and for information on available services.


Middle East and North Africa

No new significant incidents reported. Refer to the red24 website for country-specific security risk assessments for this region.

Sub-Saharan Africa

BENIN (Country risk rating: Medium); 27 to 29 November; Suspected act of piracy off the southern coastline

A commercial ship manned by Ukrainian and Russian personnel was reportedly attacked by suspected pirates off the southern coastline of Benin on late November. The vessel is thought to be the MV Saronic Breeze. Media reports differ on when the incident occurred, stating dates between 27 and 29 November. Unconfirmed information suggests that the pirates stole goods, took three hostages and have since left the vessel. Vessel tracking sources indicate that the MV Saronic Breeze is moored in Cotonou as of 1 December. The Gulf of Guinea, which includes the territorial waters of Benin, is a piracy hotspot. The risk has historically been confined to the waterways and estuaries of Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta region, which had been the focal point of a near decade-long insurgency against the Nigerian federal government. However, maritime attacks by Niger Delta-based and other pirates have since spread across the Gulf of Guinea. Of particular concern is the way in which maritime crime has evolved from oil siphoning and bunkering to increasingly well-coordinated and often violent attacks targeting commercial shipping vessels and their crew. Theft of goods and kidnapping of crew for ransom is also common.

Advice: Vessels transiting through the Gulf of Guinea should monitor maritime warning services for updates and advisories. Crew and passengers should be briefed on the threat and mitigation measures prior to departure. Regular security updates are also advised. Vessel owners should implement maximum security measures to avoid becoming victims of piracy.


MALI (Country risk rating: High); 27 to 30 November; Several militants attacks in northern regions

Several attacks, including two assaults against airports, have been reported in northern Mali in recent days. On 29 November, a suicide vehicle bomb exploded near a United Nations (UN) Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MUNISMA) checkpoint and Gao International Airport, in the city of Goa. The only fatality was the suicide bomber while two other people were wounded. The attack was claimed by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) affiliated group, al-Murabitoun. On the same day, militants affiliated with AQIM fired rockets towards a French military position in the vicinity of the Timbuktu Airport. There were no casualties reported. Elsewhere in northern Mali, a pro-government militia vehicle struck a landmine east of Kidal city in the Adjelal area on 30 November. The blast, thought to have been perpetrated by Ansar Dine, killed five members of the Tuareg Gatia militia. Earlier in the week, on 27 November, Ansar Dine claimed a bombing near French military forces in the Abeibara area (Kidal region). Northern Mali is highly insecure. Several militant organisations and Tuareg armed groups operate in the area and are frequently implicated in clashes with opposing sides or attacks on local and foreign military contingents. The Malian government maintains a degree of control in the south of the country but lacks the resources or the political capital to suppress or end the ongoing insurgency in the north.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel to the northern and eastern administrative regions of Gao, Kidal, Mopti and Timbuktu, and non-essential travel to the rest of the country, excluding Bamako, due to various security concerns. Persons operating in northern Mali should do so following a full risk assessment. Travel should ideally be conducted in the presence of a security escort. Accommodation should be well secured. Overland travel should be limited.


NIGERIA (Country risk rating: High); 1 to 31 December; Calabar Carnival to take place amid elevated security measures

The annual Calabar Carnival is set to take place from 1 to 31 December in Calabar, located in Nigeria's south eastern Cross River State. Thousands of people are expected to attend the event. Elevated security measures, including a visible increase in security force personnel and security checkpoints, is expected for the duration of the event. A number of dignitaries are also expected to join the event. Although there are no overt security concerns associated with the Calabar Carnival, it should be noted that events of such magnitude often become attractive targets for terrorist groups, and the possibility of an attack cannot be discounted; however, the increased security measures aim to mitigate this threat. In addition, the risk of petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bagsnatching, is elevated during such large-scale gatherings. Foreign nationals may be specifically targeted due to their perceived wealth. In addition, localised road travel disruptions are anticipated in the city during the event.

Advice: Due to a number of security concerns, clients are advised against all travel to Cross River State. Persons in Calabar for the duration of the event, should practise good situational awareness and keep itineraries flexible, due to associated travel disruptions.


NIGERIA (Country risk rating: High); 28 November; Chinese national killed in Nasarawa state

A Chinese national and three local colleagues are said to have been fatally shot while returning from a mining site at Alongani village, located in Nigeria's central Nasarawa state, on 28 November. Further reports indicate that another Chinese national was also wounded during the incident, which occurred at approximately 16:00 local time. The identity of the assailants and their motivation remain unclear at this point. Local authorities have launched an official investigation into the incident. Crime levels are considered to be high throughout Nigeria, including Nasarawa state. Violent crimes, such as carjacking, armed robbery and kidnapping, are prevalent in the country and predominantly affect locals; however, foreign nationals have been targeted in the past.

Advice: Clients are advised against all non-essential travel to Nssarawa, including Alongani, due to elevated conflict, terrorism, kidnapping, civil unrest and crime risks. Persons currently in or planning travel to the state are advised to implement comprehensive travel, residential and personal security measures and to consider the use of a security escort, particularly if travelling outside of major urban centres. Clients are further advised to avoid travel after dark as far as practically possible.


NIGERIA (Country risk rating: High); 1 December; Elevated threat of unrest over court ruling in Abuja

There is an elevated threat of unrest in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, on 1 December over a High Court ruling on the bail application of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the secessionist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group and director of Radio Biafra. Supporters of Kanu have been asked to stage a prayer meeting at the headquarters of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) on the same day, as a display of solidarity. Given the emotive nature of the opposition to Kanu's detention, an unfavourable verdict may trigger protests in Abuja and elsewhere on the day. Nnamdi Kanu was arrested on 14 October 2015 on charges that included criminal conspiracy and intimidation, related to broadcasts made by Radio Biafra. Kanu's continued detention has triggered notable protests calling for his release throughout 2016, particularly in the Anambra, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Imo and Rivers states. Many associated agitations have been marred by violent clashes between protesters and police; security forces often resort to heavy-handed tactics to disperse these gatherings. As such, the possibility of further such violence occurring at any future related demonstrations cannot be discounted.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel to the states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta and Rivers, and against all non-essential travel to the Imo, Edo and Abia states, due to the risks of conflict, terrorism, kidnapping, civil unrest and crime. Heightened caution is advised elsewhere in the region. Persons operating in the south east should monitor local political developments closely. All large public gatherings should be avoided as a standard precaution.


NIGERIA (Country risk rating: High); 28 November; Scores killed following communal violence in Kogi state

As many as 40 people were reportedly killed following clashes between opposing ethnic groups in the Bassa local government area of Nigeria's Kogi state, early on 28 November. Several homes were also destroyed during the violence, which is said to have involved members of the Ebira Mozu and Bassa Komu communities. The catalyst behind the clashes remains unclear; however, local media assert that they had been a recurring event in recent years. Nigeria has a long history of ethnic, religious and communal violence, which has resulted in hundreds of fatalities in recent years. Sporadic communal clashes, which are triggered by ongoing disputes over access to land and resources and in retaliation for regular cattle killing incidents, occur fairly frequently. Localised disputes are often caused by persistent ethno-religious differences. Although foreign nationals have not been specifically targeted in past clashes, there is a high incidental threat to the safety of all persons in conflict-affected areas.

Advice: Heightened caution is advised in Kogi, including the Bassa local government area, due to the high risks of terrorism, kidnapping, crime and civil unrest. Persons operating in the region should avoid areas recently affected by violence, given the potential for renewed clashes. Moreover, clients in or planning to travel to the Bassa local government and surrounding areas should maintain a low profile, exercise heightened security awareness at all times, and consult with the local authorities before travelling into rural areas.


SOMALIA (Country risk rating: Extreme); 28 November; Security forces to launch offensive on Qandala

Recent reports indicate that hundreds of security personnel, including local clan militias and members of the Puntland Security Force (PSF), began moving towards the north eastern town of Qandala, located in Somalia's autonomous Puntland region, on 28 November. The pro-government forces are expected to launch an offensive in the coming days to recapture the town, which was seized by militants affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) in late October. The takeover of Qandala marked the first official capture of a Somali town by IS-linked fighters, as the group is not known to have a significant operational presence in the country. The development serves to underscore the persistently extreme risks of conflict and terrorism in Somalia. It is currently unclear when security forces will officially launch their assault on the town, or how well-equipped the aforementioned militants are; as such, the potential scale of the impending hostilities remains unknown.

Advice: Clients are advised against all non-essential travel to the autonomous region of Puntland, including Qandala, due to various security threats. Persons currently operating in the region should adopt robust personal, travel and residential security measures and should seek to limit travel outside major cities.


SUDAN (Country risk rating: High); 30 November; Elevated tensions in Omdurman following earlier unrest

Tensions remain heightened in Omdurman, located in Sudan's Khartoum state, following an earlier demonstration against the restriction of government fuel subsides on 30 November. According to reports, at least 300 protesters were forcibly dispersed by security forces as they marched along one of the city's main roadways. Although there have been no reports of people being wounded following the police intervention, the incident does serve to underscore the elevated threat of unrest in Sudan at present, as well as the swift measures employed by authorities to address such events. The aforementioned demonstration serves as the latest agitation against the government's decision to cut fuel subsidies in the country, the advent of which not only resulted in a dramatic increase in diesel and petrol prices, but the general cost of living as well. Security forces have been quick to respond to any related protests, while unconfirmed reports suggest that authorities have confiscated newspapers covering successful disobedience actions. Given the recently elevated tensions regarding Sudan's economic climate, as well as the anti-government undertone of demonstrations related to these anxieties, further incidents of unrest are likely in the near-term. Precedent suggests that such events will centre on prominent urban centres such as the capital, Khartoum, as well as Omdurman, Port Sudan and Kassala.

Advice: Persons in Omdurman should monitor local media for announcements of further demonstrations, as well as related advisories from the authorities. Protests, concentrations of security forces and areas recently affected by violence should be avoided as a standard precaution.


SOUTH SUDAN (Country risk rating: Extreme); 26 November; MSF staff evacuated after base ransacked in Mundri

Reports on 30 November indicate that the international aid organisation, Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), has temporarily evacuated its staff members from Mundri, located in South Sudan's newly formed Amadi state, after their local base was ransacked on 26 November. Although there were no apparent casualties in the wake of the incident, the MSF has been forced to suspend all its activities in the area following the loss of important equipment and documents. The identity of the looters remains under investigation, with responsibility for the raid alternatively being ascribed to either rebel forces or government soldiers. This latest incident serves to underscore the extreme-risk operating environment in South Sudan. Ongoing conflict and political instability in the country has led to a marked increase in criminality and general insecurity in the country, including in Mundri. Foreign aid workers are viewed as both lucrative and vulnerable targets by criminal groups. Most attacks occur after dark when criminal groups can operate with relative anonymity.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel to South Sudan due to ongoing conflict and political instability. Persons operating in the country should ensure that crisis management plans are regularly reviewed and updated, in conjunction with a security provider. The security and political environment should be closely monitored.