1 August 2016


News summary

 
ARGENTINA - Education sector strike and related protest in Buenos Aires
BOLIVIA - Violent civil unrest and mass robberies in El Alto
BRAZIL - (Update) Counter-demonstrations held countrywide
BRAZIL - 2016 Summer Olympics set to commence in Rio de Janeiro
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO - Protest expected in Port of Spain
UNITED STATES - Flooding reported in Maryland state
UNITED STATES - Shooting incidents in Austin, Texas
UNITED STATES - Local transmission of Zika reported in Florida
VENEZUELA - MUD threatens further protests in Caracas
 
AFGHANISTAN - Car bombings and armed attacks in Kabul
AFGHANISTAN - Casualties reported amid clashes in Helmand province
EAST ASIA - (Update) Disruptions due to Tropical Storm Nida
INDIA - Dozens of flood-related fatalities in Assam and Bihar states
INDIA - General strike to take place in Andhra Pradesh state
INDIA - Mass demonstration in Ahmedabad, Gujarat state
INDIA - Security operation in Jammu and Kashmir results in casualties
NEPAL - Scores of fatalities amid flooding across the country
PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Disruptions reported amid hostage situation in Alotau
SRI LANKA - Mass demonstration expected in Colombo
 
ARMENIA - (Update) Standoff concludes in ongoing negotiations in Yerevan
GERMANY - Anti-Merkel demonstration in Berlin
RUSSIA - Paratroopers' Day to be celebrated countrywide
TURKEY - Suspected PKK militants killed in Hakkari province
TURKEY - Politically motivated rally expected in Istanbul
 
IRAQ - Attacks on oil facilities in Kirkuk governorate
SAUDI ARABIA - Cross-border clashes reported in Asir province
SYRIA - Fighting in Aleppo governorate between multiple rival forces
 
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - (Update) Countrywide opposition demonstrations
ETHIOPIA - Mass demonstration in Gondar
MALI - (Update) Countrywide state of emergency extended
SOMALIA - Fatal attack in Mogadishu claimed by al-Shabaab
SOUTH SUDAN - Fighting on the outskirts of Juba
 






 

Americas

ARGENTINA (Country risk rating: High); 1 August; Education sector strike and related protest in Buenos Aires

The SUTEBA union has called on its members to observe a 24-hour education sector strike in Argentina's Buenos Aires province on 1 August. The action has been called in response to several labour-related grievances, including wage disputes and concerns over working conditions. It should be noted that the UDOCBA union has also indicated that it will support the strike, which will be accompanied by a related demonstration in the capital, Buenos Aires, on the day. The protest is set to take place at Plaza de los dos Congresos (Congressional Plaza), opposite the national legislature buildings, from 10:30 local time, and is expected to cause significant disruptions to education sector activities, while the associated demonstration is likely to result in localised travel disruptions in the vicinity of Plaza de los dos Congresos. Although the risk of violence at strike-related protests is considered low, confrontations between demonstrators and the police remain possible. Both unions have indicated that further related agitations are possible in the coming days, should their grievances remain unresolved.

Advice: Persons in Buenos Aires province on 1 August are advised to monitor local media for updates on the strike and related protest action, as well as related advisories from the authorities. All demonstrations and large street gatherings should be avoided as a standard precaution. Clients are further advised to make allowances for localised travel disruptions in the vicinity of Plaza de los dos Congresos.


BOLIVIA (Country risk rating: Medium); 28 July; Violent civil unrest and mass robberies in El Alto

At least 73 people have been arrested following violent civil unrest in El Alto, Bolivia, on 28 July. The violence occurred in the Puchukollo area of the city. The suspects, who are said to have been armed with weapons and dynamite, reportedly burnt at least ten houses and robbed dozens more. At least two people were also assaulted amid the agitation. The motivation for the unrest has not been confirmed; however, local residents suspect that the violence may have been related to a land ownership dispute. Despite the arrests made, the possibility of further unrest and other related crimes occurring in the near-term cannot be discounted. Furthermore, the arrests themselves may prompt further agitation in the area. While the threat of violence is elevated, the risk to foreign travellers is largely incidental.

Advice: Persons in El Alto in the near-term are advised to monitor local media for updates on the latest developments, as well as any related advisories from the authorities. Clients should exercise heightened caution in the Puchukollo area and avoid all large street gatherings as a precaution.


BRAZIL (Country risk rating: High); 31 July; (Update) Counter-demonstrations held countrywide

The Frente Povo Sem Medo group and ruling Workers Party (PT) held countrywide demonstrations in Brazil on 31 July. The agitations, which took place in the country's primary urban centres, were called in support of the recently suspended president, Dilma Rousseff, and against Michel Temer's appointment as acting president. It should be noted that the demonstrations served as counter-protests to pro-impeachment agitations held across the country on the same day. Brazil has recently been affected by several street protests, both in support of Rousseff and the Workers' Party (PT), and by groups opposing her presidency, which are in favour of impeachment proceedings against her. Rousseff's suspension and the appointment of Michel Temer as acting president have served to heighten tensions. Given that the impeachment trial is ongoing, further protests are likely in the near-term, including during the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympic Games, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro from 5 to 21 August. Precedent suggests that low-level clashes between rival demonstrators and/or security forces are possible at such events.

Advice: Persons operating in Brazil in the near-term are advised to monitor local developments closely and adhere to the directives issued by the authorities. All demonstrations, politically motivated gatherings and concentrations of security forces should be avoided as a standard precaution. Clients are further advised to make allowances for localised travel disruptions in the vicinity of protest-affected sites.


BRAZIL (Country risk rating: High); 5 to 21 August; 2016 Summer Olympics set to commence in Rio de Janeiro

The 2016 Summer Olympic Games are set to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 5 to 21 August, with the Paralympic Games scheduled to be held from 7 to 18 September. Five additional cities will also be hosting matches for the Olympic football tournament. These include the capital, Brasilia, as well as Belo Horizonte, Manaus, Salvador and Sao Paulo. There are multiple security concerns associated with the Olympics Games; these include the risks of crime, kidnapping, civil unrest and terrorism. The Games will be held amid an increased security presence, with approximately 85,000 police expected to be deployed to the city. Security will be particularly focused on event locations, fan arenas/zones, tourist attractions and transportation hubs. A detailed assessment of security risks associated with the Olympics can be accessed here.

Advice: Persons in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympic period are advised to exercise a heightened level of personal security awareness; in particular, heightened caution is advised in low-income (favela) areas. Itineraries should be adjusted to cater for general business and transport disruptions, and all street protests should be avoided as a standard precaution. Local media should be closely monitored for updates and advisories from the authorities.


TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO (Country risk rating: High); 2 August; Protest expected in Port of Spain

A protest demanding the release of five Trinidad and Tobago nationals, who have been detained in Venezuela since March 2014, is expected in Trinidad and Tobago's capital, Port of Spain, on 2 August. The five arrested individuals were initially detained on terrorism-related charges; however, they are now being charged with intent to commit espionage and to commit a crime. Participants are expected to gather outside the Venezuelan Embassy at 08:00 local time. It is unclear how many people will attend the protest; nonetheless, some localised disruptions should be anticipated in the vicinity of the Venezuelan Embassy. The risk of violence at the upcoming protest is low; however, the possibility of isolated skirmishes cannot be discounted.

Advice: Clients in Port of Spain on 2 August should avoid all street protests as a precaution. Allowances should be made for potential disruptions.


UNITED STATES (Country risk rating: Medium); 30 July; Flooding reported in Maryland state

Severe flooding has been reported in a number of counties in the state of Maryland, in the US, since 30 July. Significant flooding in Baltimore caused damage to infrastructure and resulted in road travel disruptions in the affected area. At least two people have been killed as a result of the flooding in Maryland, while a third person was killed after being struck by lightning in North Carolina state on 31 July. In Maryland, Howard County saw the most severe flooding, especially in Ellicott City, where at least four homes were destroyed. Furthermore, flooding in the city left at least one person dead, while two others remain missing. Severe infrastructural damage and disruptions to utilities, including power supply, were also reported, and prompted authorities to declare a state of emergency in Howard County late on 30 July. Further rain is forecast to persist in the affected areas, and further flooding and associated disruptions in the affected areas cannot be discounted. Additional ongoing disruptions to road travel should be expected in the affected states. Furthermore, utility services such as water and electricity may continue to be negatively affected in the coming days.

Advice: Persons in the affected area are advised to comply with directives issued by authorities and avoid flood-affected areas, particularly near rivers or canals. Clients are further advised to monitor local media regarding flood warnings and emergency broadcasts. Flexible itineraries should be kept due to possible travel disruptions. Travellers should confirm all scheduled services with their travel provider or the local transport authority prior to departure.


UNITED STATES (Country risk rating: Medium); 31 July; Shooting incidents in Austin, Texas

Two separate shooting incidents occurred in Austin, in the state of Texas in the Us, in the early hours of 31 July. The incidents, which were unrelated, were both reported shortly after 02:00 local time, outside two bars on East 6th Street and San Jacinto Boulevard, in the downtown area. At least one person was killed and four others wounded in the violence. The suspect in the East 6th Street shooting remains at large, while the gunman in the second shooting incident has been taken into police custody. The motives for the shootings are unknown and investigations remain ongoing.

Advice: Persons in the US should report all suspicious persons, packages, and/or vehicles the local authorities. In the event of a shooting, clients are advised to avoid the scene of the incident and adhere to the directives of the local law enforcement.


UNITED STATES (Country risk rating: Medium); 29 July; Local transmission of Zika reported in Florida

Emerging reports on 29 July indicated that a local outbreak of the Zika virus may be underway in Florida state, in the US. The Florida Health Department confirmed that a number of Zika infections, primarily in the Miami-Dade and Broward counties, had been locally acquired, and not as a result of travel, as is the usually the case. A number of states in the southern US are vulnerable to localised Zika transmission, due to the presence of the Aedes mosquito. There may be additional reports of local Zika transmission in the near-term. To date, there have been over 1,400 travel-related Zika cases in the US, while over 5,000 cases have been reported in US territories, such as Puerto Rico. If confirmed, the cases in Florida represent the first locally acquired Zika transmission in the US. The Zika virus is caused by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. The majority of persons infected do not show symptoms; one in four infected persons show mild symptoms, including mild fever, rash, conjunctivitis and muscle pain. The most significant related health concern remains the link between Zika and deformities (microcephaly) in unborn babies.

Advice: Clients concerned about the spread of the disease or requiring further information should contact their medical practitioner. Further information is also available on the WHO and CDC websites. Travellers to affected areas should take measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Empty all standing water around residences, cover water tanks, avoid accumulating waste near residences, unblock drains, use screens and mosquito nets, cover exposed skin, use mosquito repellents and sleep under mosquito nets. Persons displaying symptoms, particularly pregnant women, should visit their medical practitioner.


VENEZUELA (Country risk rating: High); 1 August; MUD threatens further protests in Caracas

Members of the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) have threatened further protests in Venezuela's capital, Caracas, if the National Electoral Council (CNE) fails to meet a deadline to take the necessary steps to activate the second phase of the recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro. The deadline for the CNE is 1 August. The MUD has repeatedly accused the CNE of attempting to stall the recall process, in order to protect Maduro. The first phase of the referendum, which involved confirming the legitimacy of the signatures of one percent of the electorate, was signed off by the CNE on 26 July, after being submitted on 2 May. As per the regulations of the CNE, the process should have been completed within five working days. A successful referendum against Maduro will need to be completed by 10 January 2017, in order to trigger new elections. Further delays in the process are likely to continue to spark unrest across the country. Numerous pro- and anti-government demonstrations have been held in recent months, some of which have been marred by violent clashes. The possibility of similar clashes at any upcoming protests cannot be discounted. Furthermore, unrest related to shortages of basic commodities has increased in frequency. The shortages and associated protests are expected to persist. Linked events will continue to be characterised by low-level acts of violence, attacks on businesses and security force personnel, as well as road travel disruptions.

Advice: Clients are advised against all non-essential travel to Venezuela due to ongoing political instability and related insecurity. Clients in the country should consider a security escort, reside in secure accommodation and avoid all travel at night. Crisis management plans should be regularly reviewed and updated. All street protests should be avoided.


Asia and Pacific

AFGHANISTAN (Country risk rating: Extreme); 29 to 31 July; Car bombings and armed attacks in Kabul

At least four casualties, including at least three assailants, were reported as a result of a car bombing and armed attack at the Northgate Hotel in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, on 31 July. The attack, which has since been claimed by the Taleban, took place at approximately 01:30 local time. Earlier, on 29 July, at least two people were killed in a car bomb attack in the city's Kote Sangai area. Both incidents serve to underscore the extreme threat of terrorism throughout Afghanistan. Afghan and US government facilities, foreign embassies, foreign guesthouses, restaurants, hotels, airports, civilian institutes, and educational centres continue to serve as potential targets for attack. It should be noted that the Northgate Hotel, which serves as a secure residential compound for foreign military and civilian organisations, was targeted in a similar attack in 2013. At least five security guards and two civilians were killed in the assault, which also involved a car bombing and armed attack.

Advice: Due to a number of security concerns, all travel to Afghanistan is advised against, including Kabul. Persons currently in Kabul are advised to exercise maximum security measures and to avoid the affected area at this time.


AFGHANISTAN (Country risk rating: Extreme); 29 and 30 July; Casualties reported amid clashes in Helmand province

Clashes between security forces and suspected members of the Taleban militant group have left at least 24 security force personnel dead in Khanashin district, located in the south eastern part of Afghanistan's Helmand province, since 29 July. Clashes began with Taleban-led assaults on police checkpoints in the impacted district, and have reportedly spread to other districts, including Nad Ali district. Helmand remains one of the most heavily contested provinces in Afghanistan; the Taleban are in control of several districts. The province is strategically important, as it is one of the most prolific opium poppy growing regions, and thus a key source of income for the Taleban. Afghan security forces are under severe pressure in Helmand province. Given the general insecurity in the country, especially in Helmand province, further conflict and associated attacks, targeting both state and civilian interests, are expected to persist.

Advice: Due to a number of security concerns, all travel to Afghanistan is advised against. Clients operating in Afghanistan should implement maximum travel, personal and residential security protocols at all times. All movement should be conducted during daylight hours only and in the presence of a security escort. Travel into conflict areas should be avoided as far as is practically possible.


EAST ASIA; 30 July to 1 August; (Update) Disruptions due to Tropical Storm Nida

Tropical Storm Nida has caused heavy rains and related disruptions in the Philippines since 31 July, and is forecast to make landfall in China and Hong Kong within the next 24 hours. China's National Meteorological Center (NMC) issued an orange alert in response to the storm on 31 July. Authorities are expecting heavy rain to affect the coastal regions of the Guangdong, Fujian, and Hainan provinces. Furthermore, Hong Kong's meteorological department has forecast inclement weather, triggered by Tropical Storm Nida, in the territory late on 1 August. Although not expected to impact heavily on Taiwan, the southern Pingtung County is likely to receive significant rainfall as well. The low pressure system developed east of the Philippines and grew into a Tropical Storm on 30 July, and is continuing to move in a north westerly direction towards China. The storm is expected to generate heavy rainfall, squalls and coastal surges in the affected areas. As a result, there is an elevated risk of flooding and landslides in low-lying regions and elevated areas respectively. Disruptions to air, maritime, road and rail transport, as well as to utilities such as water and electricity, should be expected in the coming days.

Advice: Clients in the affected areas are advised to monitor local media for updates and advisories. Caution is advised in low-lying and elevated regions due to the respective risks of flooding and landslides. Travellers should confirm the status of scheduled services with their travel provider, or the local transport authority, prior to departure.


INDIA (Country risk rating: High); 1 August; Dozens of flood-related fatalities in Assam and Bihar states

At least 52 flood-related fatalities were reported in India's north eastern Assam and Bihar states, as of 1 August. Additionally, tens of thousands of people have been displaced as a result of the heavy rainfall and associated flooding; rescue and relief efforts remain ongoing. The flooding has affected most areas in Assam state, with the north eastern districts being worst affected. In Bihar state, affected districts include Purnia, Kishanganj, Araria, Darbhanga, Madhepura, Bhagalpur, Katihar, Saharsa, Supaul and Gopalganj. The heavy rains coincide with India's annual seasonal monsoon period, which generally runs from June to September. Further rainfall may exacerbate conditions in affected areas. Settlements located along the slopes of saturated hillsides are at a heightened risk of being affected by landslides. Disruptions to travel and amenities such as water, electricity and telecommunications are possible in the affected locales. Roads in inundated areas are likely to be impassable and are considered dangerous to travel on.

Advice: Persons operating in Assam and Bihar states are advised to monitor local media for flooding updates and associated advisories from the authorities. Caution is advised in low-lying areas and elevated regions due to the respective risks of flooding and landslides. Travel along flooded roads should be avoided at all costs, due to the risks of being swept away in moving waters.


INDIA (Country risk rating: High); 2 August; General strike to take place in Andhra Pradesh state

The opposition YSR Congress Party has called for a state-wide general strike, known locally as a bandh, in India's Andhra Pradesh state on 2 August. The strike has been called regarding the central Indian government's refusal to grant the state special status, which would afford it a larger allocation of national funds and other privileges. It is unclear how well supported the strike action will be; however, the action is likely to affect major urban cities across Andhra Pradesh, including the state capital, Hyderabad. General strikes are regularly called across the country; are often well attended and can lead to widespread travel disruptions and the sporadic closure of shops, schools and businesses. There have been no calls for demonstrations; however, such actions cannot be discounted. It should be noted that protests in India, even those intended to be peaceful, regularly turn violent, and security forces often respond with robust crowd-control tactics. It should be noted that groups involved in strikes often erect unofficial roadblocks on highways, thus possibly leading to further disruptions.

Advice: Clients are advised against all non-essential travel to rural and remote areas of several eastern Indian states, including Andhra Pradesh, due to ongoing threats of separatist conflict. Persons in Andhra Pradesh state on 2 August should avoid all possible street protests and unofficial roadblocks. Persons undertaking road travel should check the status of routes with the local authorities or their local host prior to departure.


INDIA (Country risk rating: High); 31 July; Mass demonstration in Ahmedabad, Gujarat state

Various Dalit activist groups staged a mass demonstration in the Sabarmati area of Ahmedabad, located in India's western Gujarat state, on 31 July. The agitation, which resulted in localised travel disruptions, had been called in response to the alleged assault of four Dalits accused of skinning a cow in the city of Una in early July. Participants of the protest called on the government to banish the perpetrators from their respective districts and charge them under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities (PASA) Act. The agitation followed a series of related protests in the broader Gujarat state in recent days. The Dalit community claims that those who were beaten for allegedly skinning a cow would not have been treated as such if they were from castes of a higher social standing, labelling the action was discriminatory. Given the emotive nature of their grievances, as well as ongoing tensions regarding the treatment of Dalits in general, further related demonstrations are possible in the coming days.

Advice: Persons operating in Gujarat, including Ahmedabad, in the near-term are advised to monitor local media for announcements of further demonstrations and related advisories from the authorities. All protest gatherings should be avoided as a standard precaution.


INDIA (Country risk rating: High); 29 and 30 July; Security operation in Jammu and Kashmir results in casualties

Two suspected militants and two security force personnel were killed during armed clashes in India's Jammu and Kashmir state, overnight on 29/30 July. The encounter reportedly took place amid a security operation in the Naugam sector of the state's Kupwara district near the Line of Control (LoC), when the militants attempted to infiltrate India from Pakistan. The incident follows similar clashes involving militants attempting to infiltrate India in the Kupwara district on 26 July; four militants were killed in the clashes. Although there have been no official statements confirming which group the militants belong to, there remains the possibility that they are most likely aligned with Kashmiri separatist groups operating from Pakistan-administered Kashmir across the LoC. These militants are active in the region and frequently infiltrate Indian-administered Kashmir from Pakistani-administered Kashmir to conduct armed attacks against state and civilian interests. Further incidents of this nature are likely.

Advice: Due to a number of security concerns, all non-essential travel to Jammu and Kashmir state (except the eastern Ladakh region) is advised against. Clients operating in this region should remain aware of the elevated threat of terrorism and associated conflict stemming from Islamist militants. Concentrations of security force personnel and state facilities should be avoided as a precaution.


NEPAL (Country risk rating: High); 1 August; Scores of fatalities amid flooding across the country

(Update) As of 1 August, at least 80 people have been killed and up to 20 more remain missing amid heavy rain and associated flooding and landslides in Nepal. Districts worst impacted by the rain include Pyuthan, where 36 people have been killed, as well as Gulmi, Palpa, Baglung, Makawanpur, Rupandehi, Arghakhanchi, Dolakha, Udayapur, Banke, Rupandehi, Sarlahi, and Kathmandu, in which the eponymous capital city is located. Local police deployed to assist with rescue and recovery operations, and to assist in evacuating those in severely flooded impacted areas. Nepal typically experiences high levels of monsoon rainfall from June to September. As such, further heavy rainfall conducive to flooding should be anticipated in the country over the near-term, which may contribute to saturation. Settlements located along the slopes of saturated hillsides are at a heightened risk of being impacted by landslides. Further associated road and travel disruptions are possible, as are disruptions to amenities such as water, electricity and telecommunications in the affected locales. It should be noted that there is an elevated risk of waterborne diseases, particularly diarrhoea, in flood-affected areas.

Advice: Persons in the above-mentioned flood-impacted areas are advised to monitor local media for updates and advisories. Particular caution is advised in low-lying areas and elevated regions due to the respective threats of flooding and landslides. Residual disruptions in the affected areas are possible.


PAPUA NEW GUINEA (Country risk rating: High); 1 August; Disruptions reported amid hostage situation in Alotau

A security operation was reported in Alotau, in Papua New Guinea (PNG)'s Milne Bay, amid an ongoing hostage situation on 1 August. Police reportedly fired teargas in an attempt to breach PNG Airlines office, where armed robbers are believed to have held an unspecified number of people hostage. The assailants entered the Alotau supermarket at approximately 09:00 local time in an attempt to rob the store; however, police arrived at the scene of the incident, prompting the suspects to flee to the adjacent PNG Airlines office and take the victims hostage. Police have since freed the hostages, although the assailants remain barricaded in the office. Significant disruptions to road travel have been reported near the affected site and businesses have been temporarily closed. Heightened security, including the cordoning off of streets and an increased security force presence, is expected in Alotau in the coming hours. Associated travel disruptions and road closures should be expected.

Advice: Persons in Alotau should avoid the affected area until the situation has stabilised. Any advisory issued by the local authorities should be followed.


SRI LANKA (Country risk rating: Medium); 1 August; Mass demonstration expected in Colombo

A mass rally by members and supporters of the Joint Opposition (JO) coalition is expected in Sri Lanka's commercial capital, Colombo, on 1 August. The demonstration serves as the culmination of a five-day protest march to the city, originally launched in Kandy on 28 July. Although the agitation has primarily been organised to protest against proposed amendments to the constitution, several other grievances have been cited by the JO as well. Further details regarding the demonstration on 1 August have not been disclosed. The upcoming rally is expected to conclude peacefully; nonetheless, the possibility of isolated skirmishes cannot be discounted, given the anti-government undertone of the event. Localised travel disruptions are expected in the vicinity of the gathering on the day.

Advice: Persons in Colombo on 1 August are advised to monitor local media for updates on the rally, as well as related advisories from the authorities. All demonstrations and politically motivated gatherings should be avoided as a standard precaution. Clients are further advised to make allowances for localised travel disruptions in the vicinity of the protest.


Europe and Russia

ARMENIA (Country risk rating: Medium); 31 July; (Update) Standoff concludes in ongoing negotiations in Yerevan

The standoff between local authorities and a number of gunmen at the Erebuni police station, in Yerevan, Armenia, has concluded after all assailants surrendered on 31 July. Gunmen linked to the Founding Parliament movement had occupied the facility since 17 July. The surrender, and subsequent arrests, of 20 gunmen followed the release of two hostages earlier on 31 July. The gunmen occupied the facility to demand the release of Founding Parliament leader, Zhirayr Sefilian, who was arrested in late June. Two police officers were shot and killed in the security operation; however, the gunmen have denied responsibility of the recent shooting of the police officer on 30 July. Protests supporting the gunmen have been ongoing in the city, with associated violence reported on 29 July which left at least 70 demonstrators injured. Although the security operation has concluded, the possibility of further protests regarding the arrests of the assailants cannot be discounted.

Advice: Local media should be monitored for updates regarding further protests in the Yerevan. Persons are advised to avoid all protests and large street gatherings as a general precaution.


GERMANY (Country risk rating: Low); 30 July; Anti-Merkel demonstration in Berlin

A demonstration took place at Washingtonplatz in Berlin, capital of Germany, on 30 July. The demonstration was organised to protest against Chancellor Angela Merkel's policies towards immigration to Germany. Counter-demonstrations were held at the nearby Berlin Hauptbahnhof (main train station). Opposition to Germany's 'open-door' policy on migration has seen a steady increase in recent years, partly due to the security threats associated with refugees coming from war zones such as Syria. Recent attacks in Ansbach, Wurzburg, Reutlingen and Munich appear to have prompted the upcoming demonstration, in light of Merkel's comments on 28 July that there would be no revision to the country's refugee policy. Part of the Chancellor's open-door policy towards immigration appears designed to offset Germany's shrinking population, which has negative economic consequences in the long-term.

Advice: Persons in Germany are advised to avoid all demonstrations as a standard security precaution.


RUSSIA (Country risk rating: High); 2 August; Paratroopers' Day to be celebrated countrywide

Paratroopers' Day is set to be observed in urban centres across Russia on 2 August; additional security forces are likely to be deployed in the capital, Moscow, and in St Petersburg, ahead of events marking the day. In Moscow, events are expected to focus on Gorky Park; events are also expected to be held at the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy. Additionally, Ilinkya Street will be partially closed to traffic from 06:00 to 16:00 local time. Gatherings are also possible in Red (Krasnaya), Suvorovskaya, Kievskaya and Pushkinskaya squares (ploshchad), Poklonnaya Gora (Hill), Alexandrovsky Garden, Victory Park (on Kutuzovsky Avenue) and other public areas in the city. In St Petersburg, a gathering will be held at Primorsky Victory Park, with other gatherings likely in the Field of Mars (Marsovo Polye) and Palace (Dvortsovaya) Square. It should be noted that related events are often characterised by disruptive behaviour and/or incidents of public disorder from participants. In previous years, there have also been reports of paratroopers assaulting foreign nationals during events, particularly individuals deemed to be from Central Asia, the North Caucasus region, or other racial minorities. These incidents have often been associated with alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour. As such, public disorder is possible despite the increased security measures. Such unrest may pose an incidental risk to bystanders.

Advice: Persons operating in Russia, particularly Moscow and St Petersburg, on 2 August are advised to avoid all large concentrations of security forces as a precaution. In addition, disruptions should be anticipated in the vicinity of all above-mentioned locations and other areas where planned or spontaneous events are being held. Itineraries should be kept flexible in order to mitigate any potential traffic disruptions in the vicinity of demonstrations and celebratory events on the day.


TURKEY (Country risk rating: High); 29 and 30 July; Suspected PKK militants killed in Hakkari province

At least 35 suspected Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants were killed in air strikes in Turkey's Hakkari province on 30 July. The militants were targeted after attempting to storm a military base in the vicinity of the Yuksekova district. Elsewhere in Hakkari, eight Turkish soldiers were killed and five others wounded in clashes in the Cukurka area, on 29 July. South east Turkey has been affected by low-level violence between security forces and Kurdish militants aligned with the PKK, since mid-2015. Security operations, armed clashes and bomb blasts are regularly reported in the region. The authorities have responded with heavy police and military deployments, and have implemented curfews in many areas. Due to the general insecurity in the south eastern provinces, further conflict-related incidents are expected.

Advice: Clients are advised against all non-essential travel to a number of south eastern provinces, including Hakkari, due to the risks of conflict between the military and Kurdish rebels, as well as the elevated risk of terrorism. Persons in the aforementioned region should travel with a trained security driver and avoid travel at night. If possible, intercity travel should be avoided. Furthermore, in light of the coup attempt on 15 and 16 July, travellers to Turkey are advised to exercise heightened caution.


TURKEY (Country risk rating: High); 31 July; Politically motivated rally expected in Istanbul

A large, peaceful demonstration was held in Kadikoy square, in Istanbul, Turkey, on 31 July. Participants gathered in the square from approximately 17:00 local time for the politically motivated event. Widespread protest activity continues to be reported in the aftermath of the apparent coup attempt in Turkey on 15 and 16 July. Although the security situation has stabilised, tensions remain elevated and the protests are likely to persist in urban centres across the country over the near-term. The threat of violence at all related gatherings exists.

Advice: Clients are advised to avoid all street gatherings and concentrations of security forces in Turkey as a standard precaution. In light of the apparent coup attempt on 15 and 16 July, clients are advised to exercise heightened caution in Turkey. Clients who are in-country should regularly review and update crisis management plans in conjunction with a security provider. Travel at night should also be avoided.


Middle East and North Africa

IRAQ (Country risk rating: High); 31 July; Attacks on oil facilities in Kirkuk governorate

Islamic State (IS) militants attacked the Bai Hassan oil field near Kirkuk, in Iraq's northern Kirkuk governorate, on 31 July. A suicide bomber detonated at the entrance, allowing the others to enter and take Iraqi North Oil Company workers hostage. The hostages were later freed and the attackers killed. The incident followed hours after unidentified gunmen attacked the nearby AB2 gas compressor station. The attackers killed four employees and a police official and sabotaged property at the site before fleeing. The incidents underscore the elevated insecurity in the region. IS has targeted oil sector targets in the past and the threat to this economically vital industry remains elevated.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel to several northern governorates in Iraq, including Kirkuk. Persons operating in these areas should do so with a security escort. Recent violence-affected areas should be avoided.


SAUDI ARABIA (Country risk rating: High); 30 July; Cross-border clashes reported in Asir province

Heavy fighting between Saudi Arabian security forces and Houthi militants took place in Saudi Arabia's southern Asir province, on 30 July. At least seven Saudi soldiers and dozens of Houthi fighters were reportedly killed. The fighting is said to have occurred in the Raboua area, when a group of Houthi fighters attempted to cross the border from Yemen. The violence is indicative of the risks associated with the area; cross-border conflict is common and is associated with an ongoing conflict in Yemen, between Houthi forces and forces linked to Saudi Arabia. Insecurity in the border region is expected to persist in the near-term, as further Houthi assaults into southern Saudi Arabia are anticipated. These are likely to impact the immediate border only, as Saudi forces remain heavily deployed across the shared frontier with Yemen.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel to within 10km of the shared border with Yemen and against all non-essential travel to a further 20km beyond the 10km extreme-risk zone, due to the risks of conflict and terrorism. Persons travelling in this area should do so with a security escort.


SYRIA (Country risk rating: Extreme); 31 July; Fighting in Aleppo governorate between multiple rival forces

Rebels aligned with Jabhat Fatah al Sham (also known as the Levant Conquest Front and formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra), the Islamic Turkestan Party and Ahrar al-Sham have launched an offensive against regime forces in Syria's northern city of Aleppo. The offensive was initiated on 31 July with the goal of ending the government's siege of rebel-held areas. The regime, supported by Russian air strikes, has won a number of battles recently and all but surrounded the rebel force in the city. Elsewhere in the governorate, the battle for Manbij persists. An offensive by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), including the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), against the Islamic State (IS) for control of the strategically located town is continuing. The SDF have captured over half of Manbij in recent weeks. Hundreds of fighters have been killed in both the Aleppo city and Manbij operations. The battle for control of Aleppo includes most of the major local, regional and international powers involved in the Syrian Civil War. At present, Russian-supported regime forces are making in-roads in the western half of the governorate, while the US-backed SDF forces continue to battle IS for control of the eastern half. The fighting is likely to persist over the medium-term, given the large number of actors involved.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel to Syria, including the Aleppo governorate. Persons operating in the country should do so after consultation with their security provider. Crisis management plans should be updated and regularly reviewed.


Sub-Saharan Africa

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (Country risk rating: High); 31 July; (Update) Countrywide opposition demonstrations

Thousands of opposition supporters gathered in the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) capital, Kinshasa, on 31 July as part of a demonstration organised by the Rassemblement des Forces du Changement (also known as the 'Rassemblement'). The agitation, which was led by popular opposition figure, Etienne Tshisekedi, had been called in response to concerns that President Joseph Kabila and his administration would not adhere to constitutional deadlines. Opposition activists assert that Kabila may attempt to extend his time in office beyond the constitutionally mandated two-term limit by delaying the country's forthcoming presidential ballot in November. The demonstration took place amid heightened political tensions in the country, and followed earlier pro-Kabila protests in Kinshasa on 29 July. Given that authorities have yet to confirm the DRC's electoral calendar, further opposition protests are likely in the short-term. Precedent suggests that due to the emotive nature of such demonstrations, as well as the propensity of police to respond forcibly to incidents of dissent, there is a credible threat of clashes at any related protests.

Advice: Persons operating in the DRC in the short-term are advised to monitor local developments closely. All protest gatherings and concentrations of security forces should be avoided as a standard precaution. Clients are reminded that all travel to certain areas of the country is advised against, as is all non-essential travel to other areas. Furthermore, heightened caution is advised in the rest of the country, including Kinshasa, due to the high risk of crime and civil unrest.


ETHIOPIA (Country risk rating: High); 31 July; Mass demonstration in Gondar

Thousands of people staged a mass anti-government demonstration in Gondar, located in Ethiopia's northern Amhara region, on 31 July. The agitation, which concluded without major incident, had reportedly been called in response to ongoing repression of the Amhara and Welkait ethnic groups, as well as the perceived erosion of their ethnic identities, by the Tigray-dominated administration of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition. Participants of the event called for a regime change, while demanding the release of several Welkait community members who were arrested during earlier protests in the city between 12 and 14 July. Further reports indicate that the protesters also expressed solidarity with the Oromo people, who had staged similar anti-government agitations in the country between December 2015 and March 2016. Given ongoing tensions in Gondar, as well as general resentment towards the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) party within the EPRDF, further unrest is possible in the near-term. It should be noted that security forces often resort to heavy-handed crowd dispersal tactics when dealing with incidents of dissent; as such, protest gatherings in Ethiopia may pose an indiscriminate threat to bystanders.

Advice: Persons operating in Gondar in the near-term are advised to monitor local developments closely. All demonstrations, politically motivated gatherings and concentrations of security forces should be avoided as a standard precaution. Clients are further advised to exercise heightened caution in Gondar due to the ongoing threat posed by crime and civil unrest.


MALI (Country risk rating: High); 30 July; (Update) Countrywide state of emergency extended

A countrywide state of emergency in Mali was extended by authorities on 30 July, and is now set to remain in place from 1 August until 29 March 2017. The extension follows a series of militant attacks in the country, the most recent of which targeted a military base in Nampala (Segou region) on 19 July. It should be noted that the advisory is not indicative of a change in the baseline terrorism and/or conflict risks in Mali, which remain high. Elevated security measures, including the additional deployment of security forces at all strategic locations, are likely to be implemented for the aforementioned period. There is a high threat of conflict and terrorism in Mali, particularly in the country's northern Gao, Kidal, Timbuktu, and Mopti regions, where a number of armed groups maintain an operational presence. Renewed clashes between members of the pro-government Groupe Autodefense Touareg Imghad et Allies (GATIA) and Tuareg rebel alliance, Coalition of Azawad Movements (CMA), in Kidal on 30 July serve to underscore the poor security situation in the north. Due to the ongoing presence of militant groups, both in the country and in border regions, insecurity is likely to persist.

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, particularly the threats of conflict and terrorism. Heightened caution is advised in Bamako. Persons in Mali are advised to adhere to the conditions of the state of emergency and monitor local media for developments.


SOMALIA (Country risk rating: Extreme); 31 July; Fatal attack in Mogadishu claimed by al-Shabaab

At least ten people were killed, including four militants, in an attack that has been claimed by al-Shabaab militants, in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, on 31 July. The incident occurred at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters. The gunmen reportedly stormed the building after detonating two bombs at the entrance of the facility. The incident underscores the extreme risks of terrorism and conflict in the country. The threats stem from several Islamist organisations and militia groups, including al-Shabaab. The al-Shabaab militant group is currently engaged in an ongoing conflict with the Somali government and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and frequently carries out attacks against government installations, security forces and civilian interests. As such, further attacks of this nature are likely in the medium-term.

Advice: Due to various security concerns, all travel to Somalia is advised against, except Puntland and Somaliland, where non-essential travel is advised against. Clients operating in the country despite this advisory should implement comprehensive travel, residential and personal security measures at all times, regardless of location.


SOUTH SUDAN (Country risk rating: Extreme); 1 August; Fighting on the outskirts of Juba

Fighting between forces loyal to incumbent president, Salva Kiir, and those faithful to former First Vice President Riek Machar, continues to be reported along the outskirts of South Sudan's capital, Juba, early on 1 August. The conflict, which has been ongoing for several days, is said to be concentrated in the north west of the city, as well as in bushes along the Juba-Yei and Juba-Mundri roads. Details regarding associated casualty figures remain unclear, although local media assert that both sides have suffered heavy losses. The skirmishes follow significant fighting in Juba between 7 and 11 July, involving members of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and Sudan People's Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO), which left over 250 people dead and led Machar to withdraw from the capital. Taban Deng Gai, a former chief negotiator for the SPLA-IO, has since replaced Machar as First Vice President following a presidential decree on 25 July. Machar has dismissed the appointment as illegal and called for the deployment of a regional protection force; conversely, Kiir asserts that Gai's nomination is legitimate and continues to refuse the intervention of a third party force. It should be noted that security situation in the country remains subject to rapid deterioration in the short- to medium-term; unconfirmed reports indicate that a faction of the SPLA-IO intends to take over Juba, as SPLA forces continue to attempt to locate Machar.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel to South Sudan due to ongoing conflict and political instability. Persons operating in the country despite this advisory should ensure that crisis management plans are regularly reviewed and updated in conjunction with a security provider. Clients are further advised to travel with a security escort and reside in secure compounds or hotels. The security and political environment should be closely monitored.