1 March 2017


News summary

 
BRAZIL - Foreign national shot and wounded in Rio de Janeiro
COLOMBIA - ELN-related violence expected to persist amid peace talks
UNITED STATES - Winter storm warnings issued for several western states
 
BANGLADESH - (Update) Opposition parties threaten protest campaign countrywide
BANGLADESH - Ongoing strike resulting in land-based travel disruptions across the country
INDONESIA - Disruptions due to flooding in several provinces
PAKISTAN - Unauthorised protests expected countrywide
SOUTH KOREA - (Update) Pro- and anti-Park protests expected in Seoul
THAILAND - Runway maintenance at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok
 
GERMANY - 'Free Deniz' demonstrations held in several cities
GREECE - Health workers' strike and protest expected in Athens
SPAIN - Rail sector strike underway in Basque Country
 
No new significant incidents reported. Refer to the red24 website for country-specific security risk assessments for this region.
 
No new significant incidents reported. Refer to the red24 website for country-specific security risk assessments for this region.
 





 

Americas

BRAZIL (Country risk rating: High); 27 February; Foreign national shot and wounded in Rio de Janeiro

An Argentine national was shot and wounded at the Morro dos Prazeres favela in the Santa Teresa area of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 27 February. The victim, who was travelling in a vehicle with her husband and two other Spanish nationals, reportedly mistakenly entered the favela area, while attending carnival celebrations in the city. The incident is currently under investigation. This incident underscores the high risk of crime in Brazil, particularly in major cities such as Rio de Janeiro. Petty street crime, fuelled by high levels of poverty, is the most prevalent concern, although violent crime incidents can periodically affect visitors. As highlighted by this recent incident, high-risk areas for violent crime are typically low-income areas (favelas), where gangs are known to operate. It should be noted the risk of physical violence increases if robbery attempts are resisted.

Advice: Clients in Brazil are advised to remain vigilant in favelas and should be aware of their surroundings at all times. Foreign visitors should avoid travel at night and should consider being escorted, particularly in cities, by a trusted local escort. GPS navigation should not be considered superior to the advice of a trusted local contact familiar with the local security environment.


COLOMBIA (Country risk rating: High); 1 March; ELN-related violence expected to persist amid peace talks

Peace negotiations between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and Colombia's government were launched on 7 February. Since the start of the talks, numerous low-level attacks on infrastructure have been reported, particularly on the Cano Limon-Covenas oil pipeline in Norte de Santander department, in mid-February. In addition, on 26 February, the ELN claimed responsibility for the 19 February bombing in Bogota, which left one police officer dead and 26 others wounded. In light of the recent incidents, it is unlikely that a bilateral ceasefire agreement between the government and the ELN will be reached in the near-term. It should also be noted that a common tactic used by the ELN to increase their negotiating leverage, is to increase its attacks, which may include kidnappings, prior to and during negotiations with the government. As such, further ELN-related violence, including kidnappings, armed strikes and low-level attacks on infrastructure and security force personnel, is anticipated in the short- to medium-term. Rural and remote parts of the country are more likely to be affected, rather than relatively secure major cities; however, the 19 February attack in Bogota indicates that no area is immune to the threat. The risk to foreign travellers is largely incidental.

Advice: Clients are advised against all non-essential travel to rural and remote areas of Colombia, specifically to areas outside of secure urban and tourist centres (Bogota, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Santa Marta, Medellin and Santiago de Cali). Persons considering travel in rural and remote areas should do so following a full area risk assessment and preferably travel with a trained security driver or local escort.


UNITED STATES (Country risk rating: Medium); 1 March; Winter storm warnings issued for several western states

Winter storm warnings issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) in the US remain in place in several western states, including Washington, northern Idaho, north western Montana and northern Oregon. The alerts are likely to remain in place for the remainder of 1 March. The adverse weather conditions, which coincide with the country's winter season, are likely to result in heavy snowfall and associated intermittent road and air travel disruptions. Disruptions to power supply may also occur.

Advice: Clients in the affected areas are advised to monitor local media for updates and advisories from the authorities. Travellers are advised to confirm their scheduled flight(s) with their travel provider prior to departure. Itineraries should be adjusted to cater for potential travel disruptions.


Asia and Pacific

BANGLADESH (Country risk rating: High); 1 and 15 March; (Update) Opposition parties threaten protest campaign countrywide

Opposition parties have threatened to launch a protest campaign countrywide in Bangladesh between 1 and 15 March. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has also called for sit-in protests countrywide on 2 March. Additionally, officials state that a related large demonstration will be held in the capital, Dhaka, on 15 March. Although no further information regarding protest locations was given, associated agitations will likely take place in all major urban centres countrywide. The protests have been launched in response to the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission's decision to increase natural gas prices. The calls to protest come amid elevated tensions after clashes were reported between protesters and security forces during a related agitation in the capital on 28 February. Security forces reportedly deployed heavy-handed crowed-control methods, including teargas and rubber bullets, to disperse the crowd. In light of these events, the possibility of future-related protests escalating into low-level violence cannot be discounted. Should associated demonstrations take place they are likely to centre on government buildings. If the agitations proceed as scheduled, travel and business disruptions should be anticipated in major urban centres across the country, including in Dhaka in the coming days.

Advice: Clients in Bangladesh should plan accordingly for the associated travel and business disruptions. Furthermore, all protests and unofficial road blockades should be avoided as a standard precaution against violent unrest.


BANGLADESH (Country risk rating: High); 28 February to 1 March; Ongoing strike resulting in land-based travel disruptions across the country

A transport strike initiated by the Bangladesh Transport Workers' Federation (BTWF) across large parts of Bangladesh remains ongoing on 1 March. The industrial action, which was launched on 28 February, has resulted in disruptions to road-based transport services across the country, including the capital, Dhaka. The strike has been called to protest the death sentence handed down to a bus driver for his role in a deadly bus accident north of the capital in 2011. BTWF members have also reportedly stopped other bus operators from operating their respective services during the strike. It is unclear how long the strike will continue, but it is likely to result in moderate to severe road transport disruptions. Associated demonstrations, although none have been announced as yet, are also possible. Should these take place, there is a credible risk of violence as protest action in Bangladesh, especially when unsanctioned, regularly escalates into clashes between police and protesters. A significant demand for other forms of transport, such as train, taxi and private car hire, should also be anticipated.

Advice: Persons operating in Bangladesh are advised to monitor local media for updates on the strike as well as announcements of any related demonstrations. All strike-related activities and large street gatherings should be avoided as a standard precaution. Clients should anticipate significant travel disruptions and should confirm the status of their travel arrangements with their respective service providers.


INDONESIA (Country risk rating: High); 28 February to 1 March; Disruptions due to flooding in several provinces

Several provinces across Indonesia have been affected by flooding since 28 February. Areas that have been affected are West Java, Central Java, East Java, East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara, West Kalimantan, North Maluku, Banten, North Sulawesi, and Indonesia's capital, Jakarta. This has resulted in significant disruptions to travel, businesses and to the temporary closure of schools. There have been no reports of flood-related fatalities. Further rains are forecast to persist in the coming days and will likely cause additional flooding. Localised road and rail travel disruptions are likely to persist in the short-term at least. Although flight schedules have been unaffected thus far across the country, disruptions to aviation services are possible. In addition, it should be noted that disruptions to utility services, including water, telecommunications and electricity, are also possible. The threat of landslides in elevated areas is exacerbated due to ongoing heavy rains.

Advice: Clients in the aforementioned provinces, including Jakarta, are advised to exercise caution, particularly in low-lying and flood-prone areas, as well as in locales near storm drains, drainage channels and rivers. Allowances should be made for travel disruptions in flood-affected areas; caution is also advised in elevated regions due to the threat of landslides. Persons are advised to confirm the status of services before travel is conducted.


PAKISTAN (Country risk rating: High); 1 March; Unauthorised protests expected countrywide

Members of Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah are expected to hold protests countrywide in Pakistan, on 1 March. The planned demonstrations will coincide with the one-year anniversary of the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, who was found guilty of murdering the late Punjab governor, Salmaan Taseer, in the capital, Islamabad, in 2011. In addition, protests will take place during the 13th Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) Summit, set to take place in the capital, on 1 March. However, authorities recently banned rallies honouring Qadri, and have placed prominent leaders of the Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah under house arrest in the build up to the planned demonstration. In the past, major protests have been reported in Islamabad, as well as in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi, in connection with Qadri's trial and subsequent execution. Due to the sensitivity of the aforementioned issue, the protest actions are likely to be well attended. Furthermore, although intended to be peaceful, all protests carry a high threat of violence. Clashes between police and protesters are regularly reported in Pakistan. Travel disruptions are likely to continue for the duration of the demonstrations.

Advice: Due to a number of security concerns, clients are advised against all non-essential travel to most of Pakistan. Persons currently in Pakistan are advised to avoid demonstrations and surrounding areas as a standard precaution.


SOUTH KOREA (Country risk rating: Low); 1 March; (Update) Pro- and anti-Park protests expected in Seoul

Large-scale rallies in support of and against the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, are expected in South Korea's capital, Seoul, on 1 March. The rallies, which coincide with Independence Movement Day will involve marches in various parts of the city. Major pro- and anti-Park gatherings are also anticipated at Deoksugung Palace at 14:00 local time and Gwanghwamun Plaza at 17:00, respectively. Approximately 16,000 additional security force personnel are expected to be deployed to the city on the day. The Constitutional Court's verdict relating to Park's impeachment is expected on 13 March. For this reason, anti-Park supporters are expected to continue and possibly escalate protests, to pressure the court to pass a ruling in early March. Recent protests have been largely peaceful; however, the risk of low-level confrontations between pro- and anti-Park demonstrators cannot be discounted.

Advice: Clients in South Korea are advised to monitor local developments and should avoid all demonstrations as a standard precaution. Allowances should be made for travel disruptions in affected areas.


THAILAND (Country risk rating: Medium); 3 March until 2 May; Runway maintenance at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok

Flight disruptions are possible at Bangkok's main international airport, Suvarnabhumi Airport, located in Thailand, between 3 March and 2 May, due to scheduled maintenance. The northern runway will be partially closed for resurfacing and repairs. Airport authorities have implemented mechanisms to reduce disruptions and delays; however, moderate interruptions to scheduled services remain possible and may persist for the duration of the affected period.

Advice: Clients scheduled to transit the aforementioned airport over the affected period are advised to contact their travel provider or airline directly to confirm the status of their flight(s).


Europe and Russia

GERMANY (Country risk rating: Low); 28 February; 'Free Deniz' demonstrations held in several cities

Activist and civic groups held demonstrations in several major urban areas in Germany, in protest of the arrest of German journalist, Deniz Yucel, on 28 February. Yucel was arrested in Istanbul, Turkey on 14 February on allegations of inciting terrorist-related propaganda. Turkish courts have since ruled for his further detention as he awaits his trial. The protest events consisted of motorcades and low-level demonstrations in the capital, Berlin, as well as in Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Liepzig; the events concluded without major incident and resulted in minor disruptions in the vicinity of affected sites. Due to the general outcry against Yucel's arrest and detention, further associated protests are expected to persist in the short-to medium-term, at least.

Advice: Persons in Germany are advised to avoid all large street gatherings and concentrations of security forces as a general precaution. Allowances should be made for potential travel disruptions in the vicinity of affected sites. Clients are also advised to monitor local media for updates and additional information regarding associated protests.


GREECE (Country risk rating: Medium); 2 March; Health workers' strike and protest expected in Athens

Unionised health workers represented by the Federation of Hospital Doctors (OENGE) and the Panhellenic Federation of Workers in Public Hospitals (POEDIN) unions are set to observe a 24-hour strike and to stage an associated demonstration in Greece 's capital, Athens, on 2 March. The action has been called to protest proposed budget cuts in the sector that would adversely affect related pension benefits. The associated demonstration is expected in the vicinity of the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Welfare (located on Stadiou Street) from 12:30 local time. Related protests are expected elsewhere; however, further details regarding these are currently unavailable. Disruptions to public health services are expected during the aforementioned strike period. While any associated protests are expected to conclude peacefully, the possibility of isolated skirmishes cannot be discounted. Localised travel disruptions are anticipated in the vicinity of any protest-affected sites. Due to the ongoing nature of the workers' grievances, further associated strike action and protest activity is possible for the short- to medium-term, at least.

Advice: Persons in Athens are advised to avoid all large street gatherings as a standard precaution. Allowances should be made for travel disruptions on the day.


SPAIN (Country risk rating: Low); 1 March; Rail sector strike underway in Basque Country

Unionised rail workers of Euskotren initiated a 24-hour strike in Basque Country, Spain, on 1 March. In addition to the strike, rail workers are expected to hold a demonstration at Plaza Teresa de Calcuta, in San Sebastian. The time of the demonstration, as well as the number of participants, is unclear. The impact of the strike is currently unclear; nonetheless, related disruptions should be anticipated for the duration of the strike period. This may cause additional pressure and delays on other transport services. Furthermore, the risk of violence at the protest is assessed to be low; however, the possibility of low-level skirmishes cannot be discounted.

Advice: Clients in the affected areas are advised to monitor local media for further information on the strike and for travel alternatives. Allowances should be made to accommodate the anticipated travel disruptions.


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

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