3 June 2017


News summary

 
BOLIVIA - Civic group calls for strike and protests in Oruro
MEXICO - Multiple incidents of drug cartel-related violence
PERU - Health sector strike and possible protests expected countrywide
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO - Chinese national killed in Santa Cruz
VENEZUELA - Opposition protests to persist in Caracas and elsewhere
 
AFGHANISTAN - Protest rally in Kabul
CHINA - Heavy rainfall in eastern provinces
INDIA - Anti-violence protest rally to be held in Mumbai
INDIA - French national sexually assaulted in Varanasi
INDIA - Petrol station owners' strike in Haryana state
JAPAN - Inclement weather causing disruptions on Honshu
PHILIPPINES - Martial law-related protests possible in Metro Manila
PHILIPPINES - Protests possible amid Philippine Republic Day
SRI LANKA - Demonstration expected in Trincomalee
THAILAND - Chinese national sexually assaulted in Bangkok
 
FRANCE - (Update) Activist-led protest expected at Place de la Republique, Paris
FRANCE - Shooting incident reported in Avignon
POLAND - Activists to protest amid UNESCO conference in Krakow
SPAIN - Rolling strike to disrupt services at Palma de Mallorca airport
SWEDEN - Several wounded in a shooting incident in Malmo
TURKEY - Police disperse Trans Pride demonstration in Istanbul
 
EGYPT - Possible protests countrywide in response to fuel increase
IRAQ - Pro-government forces make gains against IS in Mosul
IRAQ - Service delivery protests in Najaf governorate
LEBANON - Fatalities due to fire at refugee camp in Bekaa Valley
SAUDI ARABIA - Six killed in Houthi missile attack in Najran
SYRIA - Bombing in Damascus
TUNISIA - German tourists stabbed in Nabeul
 
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - Fatal clashes in Zemio, Haut-Mbomou
NIGER - Two killed following militant attack in Kabelawa, Diffa region
SOUTH AFRICA - High-profile political meeting underway in Johannesburg
SOUTH AFRICA - Protests and road closures in Hout Bay
 



 

Americas

BOLIVIA (Country risk rating: Medium); 3 July; Civic group calls for strike and protests in Oruro

The Civic Committee of Oruro has called for a general strike in the city of Oruro, in Bolivia's Oruro department, on 15 May. The agitation is in protest against increases in electricity tariffs. In addition to the strike, protesters are expected to hold a protest march; participants are expected to gather at Parque de la Union Nacional at 14:00 local time and march through various parts of the city. Strike organisers have also called on supporters to erect blockades on major roads in Oruro. Disruptions to business operations and public transport services should be anticipated as a result of the strike. Significant road travel disruptions are also anticipated as a result of the associated protests and planned road blockades. There is a risk of low-level confrontations between protesters and the police at all related gatherings in Bolivia, especially in the event that police attempt to dismantle roadblocks.

Advice: Clients operating in Oruro during the strike period are advised to avoid all street protests and to avoid moving towards or through any unofficial roadblocks. All scheduled transport services should be confirmed with your travel provider or the relevant transport authority prior to departure.


MEXICO (Country risk rating: High); 30 June and 1 July; Multiple incidents of drug cartel-related violence

Multiple deaths connected to drug cartel-related violence were reported in Mexico's Sinaloa and Puebla states on 30 June and 1 July. At least 19 people were killed in running gun battles between gang members and security personnel, in Sinaloa state's Villa Union town, late on 1 July. In a separate development, the governor of Veracruz state, Miguel Angel Yunes, confirmed that the leader of the Cartel de Jalisco Nuevo Generacion (CJNG) in the state, Ricardo Arturo Pacheco Tello, known as 'El Chino', was killed in the municipality of San Gregorio Atzompa in Puebla state on 30 June, while the authorities were attempting to arrest him. Drug cartel-related violence is an ongoing concern in Mexico, as these latest incidents highlight. In Sinaloa state, recent related increases in violence have been attributed to the arrest and extradition to the US of the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, in January 2016. In light of Tello's death, it is expected that CJNG members will conduct retaliatory attacks against security personnel and justice officials in Puebla state and elsewhere. As such, further incidents of violent crime are likely in the foreseeable future. It should be noted that the majority of victims of more violent crimes are locals; however, foreign nationals have also been affected in the past.

Advice: Heightened caution is advised across Mexico due to the threats of crime and kidnapping, and the incidental risk of organised crime-related conflict. This is particularly relevant outside all major cities and primary resort areas in the country, including those in the aforementioned affected areas. Persons travelling in these states should consider doing so with a local escort or trained security driver.


PERU (Country risk rating: Medium); 4 July; Health sector strike and possible protests expected countrywide

Health sector workers in Peru have called for a countrywide strike for an indefinite period, from 4 July. The industrial action has been organised over several issues, including to demand an increase in the health sector budget and the resignation of the health minister, Patricia Garcia. Media reports indicate that as many as 23,000 doctors could participate in the strike. Disruptions to hospital services and health facilities, such as clinics, should be anticipated for the duration of the agitation. Additionally, striking workers may stage protests as part of the action; these are likely to centre on health facilities and government buildings, particularly in the capital, Lima. The possibility of low-level confrontations between security personnel and demonstrators at any potential protests cannot be discounted.

Advice: Persons in Peru are advised to avoid all street protests as a precaution. Clients are further advised to make allowances for potential disruptions to health services, as well as localised travel disruptions in the vicinity of all protest-affected sites.


TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO (Country risk rating: High); 28 June; Chinese national killed in Santa Cruz

A Chinese shop owner was shot and killed in Cantaro Village, in Trinidad and Tobago's Santa Cruz area, on 28 June. The incident occurred at the victim's place of business, when two assailants robbed the store, before 22:00 local time on the day. Further details are unknown and the incident is under investigation. The threat of crime in Trinidad and Tobago is rated as high and has been on the rise in recent years, primarily due to gang- and drug-related activities. The most recent victim was the fourth Chinese national to be killed in a crime-related incident in Trinidad and Tobago in June; however, it is unclear if there is a growing trend of targeting Chinese nationals conducting business in the country. While violent crime tends to predominantly affect local residents, these latest incidents indicate that foreign nationals are periodically targeted, particularly those with a long-term presence or business interests in the country.

Advice: Persons operating in Trinidad and Tobago are advised to maintain an elevated level of situational awareness at all times and should report any suspicious persons or activities to the authorities immediately. In the event of a robbery, clients are advised to adhere to the instructions issued by the perpetrator.


VENEZUELA (Country risk rating: High); 3 to 5 July; Opposition protests to persist in Caracas and elsewhere

Anti-government protests organised by the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) are anticipated across Venezuela on 3 July. In the capital, Caracas, participants are expected to gather at the Municipal Theatre of Chacao in Caracas at 10:00. Protests are also likely in the capital on 4 July during a public hearing for the attorney general, Luisa Ortega Diaz, who has been barred from leaving the country for alleged misconduct. It should be noted that Venezuela is expected to commemorate Independence Day on 5 July. The national holiday is usually associated with civic-military parades in Caracas; although pro- and anti-government protests are also likely. Venezuela has been affected by near-daily deadly anti-government protests across the country since 1 April; the unrest has exacerbated the political crisis in the country. Security forces are likely to take an aggressive stance towards any anti-government protests; dozens of people have been killed and hundreds others arrested during the recent months of protests. The presence of pro-government armed groups, called colectivos, may also result in violence. Most recently, on 30 June, at least four people were killed in Barquisimeto (Lara state) after hooded gunmen, suspected of being colectivos, opened fire on a group of protesters.

Advice: Clients are advised against all non-essential travel to Venezuela due to ongoing political instability and related insecurity. Persons in the country should consider travel with a trusted local contact or trained security driver, limit travel at night, and avoid all street protests and concentrations of security forces.


Asia and Pacific

AFGHANISTAN (Country risk rating: Extreme); 3 July; Protest rally in Kabul

Activists and civic groups are currently holding a protest rally in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, on 3 July. The rally has been called against the insecurity in the country and government maladministration. Participants gathered in the vicinity of the Service Road intersection and staged a vehicle procession through the city to Pashtunistan Square, where a rally began at 12:00 local time. Attendance is expected to be high; as such, localised travel disruptions are anticipated in the vicinity of the demonstration. While the demonstration is intended to be peaceful in nature, three people were killed and more wounded after police used force to clear a long-standing protest camp on 20 June. As such, there exists a credible risk of violence at all protests in the country. As such, the possibility of incidents of violence cannot be discounted. Travel disruptions at associated gathering sites and the procession route are anticipated.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel to Afghanistan due to several security concerns. Persons in Kabul are advised to avoid all large street gatherings and concentrations of security forces as a general precaution. Localised travel disruptions are anticipated in the vicinity of affected sites.


CHINA (Country risk rating: Medium); 2 and 3 July; Heavy rainfall in eastern provinces

Heavy rainfall is forecast to continue in several of China's central and eastern provinces for the remainder of 3 July at least. The storm system is projected to affect central provinces from Sichuan southward to Yunnan and south eastern provinces from Guangdong to Anhui, including Shanghai. Authorities have issued a yellow heavy rainfall warning, the third-highest level, for much of the affected region. Heavy downpours will likely worsen flood conditions in parts of central and eastern China. Flash flooding is possible throughout the affected area. The water level on the Xiangjiang River in Changsha has already reached its highest point in history, suggesting that flooding could occur along waterways in Hunan and other provinces throughout south eastern China. Landslides could occur in mountainous areas, particularly in provinces where prolonged rainfall has occurred. At least five people were killed when a landslide occurred in Hunan province's Ningxiang county on 2 July.

Advice: Clients in the affected areas are advised to plan accordingly for possible transport and shipping disruptions and utility outages. Persons travelling in these areas should confirm the status of roads and transport services, including flight services, with their travel provider. Caution is advised around streams, rivers, and hill areas that may be prone to flash flooding and landslides.


INDIA (Country risk rating: High); 3 July; Anti-violence protest rally to be held in Mumbai

Civic groups are set to hold a rally in Mumbai, India, on 3 July. The demonstration forms part of the ongoing anti-violence campaign dubbed 'Not in my name'; the campaign was launched to denounce the lynching of a Muslim teenager on 22 June and other related violent incidents in the country. Participants are scheduled to gather in the vicinity of the Kotwal garden from 16:00 local time and proceed to the Chaitya Bhoomi memorial. Associated protest activity has been well attended and concluded without major incident. However, it should be noted that there is a risk of civil unrest at all protests in India. An increased security presence and localised traffic disruptions are likely in the vicinity of affected sites.

Advice: Persons in Mumbai are advised to monitor local media for protest-related updates and to avoid all street protests and concentrations of security forces as a standard precaution. Allowances should also be made for localised disruptions.


INDIA (Country risk rating: High); 28 June; French national sexually assaulted in Varanasi

A French national was reportedly sexually assaulted at a resort in Varanasi, located in India's northern Uttar Pradesh state, on 28 June. According to reports, an intoxicated local security guard is believed to have beaten and then sexually assaulted the 70-year-old victim at a resort located in the city's Rohaniya area. Authorities have launched an investigation into the incident and continue to search for the assailant, who is reported to have fled. The incident underlines the ongoing risk of sexual violence against women in India, as well as the medium threat of crime in the country. Although most sexual assaults in India target locals, the incident indicates that the risk extends to foreign nationals. Violent crimes against foreign nationals have also become notably more frequent in recent years. Due to slow police response time and an ineffective judicial system, similar such incidents should be anticipated.

Advice: Clients in India, particularly women, are advised to exercise heightened security awareness at all times and limit solitary travel, particularly after daylight hours. All movements should be coordinated with a secure, pre-arranged means of transport. Clients are advised to ensure that local emergency contact numbers are pre-programmed on mobile phones, which should be kept charged at all times.


INDIA (Country risk rating: High); 30 June and 1 July; Petrol station owners' strike in Haryana state

Petrol station owners in India's Haryana state engaged in strike action on 30 June and 1 July. More than 2,600 petrol station owners stopped buying fuel to restock their supplies, temporarily halting operations amid the strike period. The industrial action was organised by the All Haryana Petrol Pump Dealers Association (AHPPDA) to oppose the recently introduced daily pricing system, which it asserts is leading to financial losses. In addition, the All India Petroleum Dealers' Association (AIPDA), a national body, has threatened to launch a countrywide strike from 12 July if their demands, which are similar to the AHPPDA's, are not met.

Advice: Clients should monitor local developments and plan for fuel supply and shortages in the event any further strikes take place.


JAPAN (Country risk rating: Low); 3 July; Inclement weather causing disruptions on Honshu

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has issued warnings and advisories for heavy rainfall, gale-force winds and flooding, in numerous prefectures of Japan's main island of Honshu; the warnings are in place until 4 July at least. Prefectures impacted by the warnings include Niigata, Toyama, Yamagata, Sendai, Fukushima, Fukui, Akita, Ishikawa and Iwate. Latest reports indicate that Ishikawa and Niigata prefectures have been subject to the heaviest rainfall, while Ishikawa, Toyama, Niigata and Fukui are forecast to be worst impacted in the coming 24 hours. The rain is causing ground transport disruptions, particularly in Ishikawa, Niigata and Toyama prefectures. As a result of the inclement weather, further disruptions to air, maritime, road and rail transport services, as well as power supply in places, are possible. The high standard of emergency preparedness and disaster management capabilities in Japan will serve to somewhat mitigate the threat posed by the storm. Nonetheless, disruptions to travel and amenities are still likely.

Advice: Clients in the affected regions of Japan should monitor local media for updates and advisories. Caution is advised in low-lying and hilly areas. Travellers should confirm the status of their transport services prior to departure.


PHILIPPINES (Country risk rating: Medium); 4 July; Martial law-related protests possible in Metro Manila

Protests are possible in the Philippines' Metro Manila area on 4 July, when the supreme court is expected to vote on petitions seeking to revoke President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao. Numerous protests denouncing the declaration have been reported since 23 May, when Duterte first imposed the order through Proclamation 216. The vote will take place ahead of the 30-day period within which the supreme court must decide on the petitions, before the end of the 60-day duration of the martial law. Activist and civil rights groups have alleged the imposition of martial law is unsubstantiated and may lead to widespread human rights abuses, as witnessed during the tenure of the former president, Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos was accused of human rights violations during the martial law era and subsequently discharged during the EDSA (or People Power) Revolution in 1986. Protests are likely to occur in the vicinity of the supreme court itself, although activists may also stage protests near other government buildings and public areas in Quezon City, Manila, Marikina, Caloocan City, Pasay, Taguig, Pasig and Paranaque. While authorities are likely to ensure that associated demonstrations conclude peacefully, due to the emotive nature of the dispute, the possibility of violence at any upcoming demonstrations cannot be discounted. In addition, travel disruptions are likely in the vicinity of all related gatherings. Further activist-led protests and rallies remain likely over the coming weeks.

Advice: Persons in the Metro Manila area are advised to avoid all related gatherings and protests as a standard precaution. Furthermore, clients should monitor local media for announcements regarding any upcoming demonstrations as well as further related gatherings. Itineraries should be adjusted to accommodate potential road travel disruptions.


PHILIPPINES (Country risk rating: Medium); 4 July; Protests possible amid Philippine Republic Day

Protests are possible amid Philippine Republic Day (also known as Filipino-American Friendship Day) which is scheduled to take place in the Philippines on 4 July. The day was formerly designated to celebrate the official US recognition of Philippine independence. Protest action is possible outside the US Embassy, located on Roxas Boulevard in the capital, Manila, in the lead up to and on 4 July. In previous years, activist groups have held demonstrations on 4 July to protest against joint US-Philippines naval drills. The drills have taken place on an annual basis, under the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) drill until 2016, and the Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Sama Sama in 2017, which concluded on 25 June. The US Embassy will likely remain the focus of the protests, although the national legislature building in Quezon City is also a possible rally site. Demonstrations can result in localised traffic disruptions. Although widespread violence is not anticipated, smaller-scale scuffles between police and protesters cannot be discounted.

Advice: Clients in the Philippines on 4 July are advised to avoid the US Embassy and any associated politically motivated demonstrations as a precaution. Clients should also anticipate localised traffic disruptions during any associated protests.


SRI LANKA (Country risk rating: Medium); 3 July; Demonstration expected in Trincomalee

An opposition-led demonstration is expected in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, on 3 July. The political coalition, Joint Opposition, has called for the demonstration against the proposed sale and re-development of oil tank facilities. Further details regarding the exact location and start time of the demonstration are currently unavailable. Although it is unclear how well the demonstration will be supported, associated opposition protests have been well attended. The event is expected to conclude peacefully; nonetheless, the possibility of isolated skirmishes cannot be discounted. Localised travel disruptions are expected in the vicinity of the related gathering site.

Advice: Persons in Trincomalee are advised to avoid all large street gatherings as a precaution; localised travel disruptions should be anticipated. Clients are also advised to monitor local media for updates on possible associated demonstrations and strike actions.


THAILAND (Country risk rating: Medium); 30 June; Chinese national sexually assaulted in Bangkok

A Chinese national was allegedly robbed and sexually assaulted by an assailant in a stolen taxi in Thailand's capital, Bangkok. The foreign traveller was picked up at a bus stop in front of Soi Navamin 103 and then driven to an isolated area of Chatuchote Road, where the incident occurred. Media reports indicate that the suspect had placed a fake Bangkok licence plate on the vehicle. The police arrested a suspect on 30 June. There is a medium threat of crime in Thailand. The form of crime most likely to impact foreign visitors is petty in nature. Violent crime against foreign nationals is not as common; however, as highlighted by this recent incident, armed muggings and sexual assaults are periodically reported. Additionally, the incident demonstrates the danger of hailing taxis off the street, instead of using reputable company taxis recommended by hotels or trusted local contacts.

Advice: Persons in or planning to operate in Thailand are advised to remain cognisant of the security threats facing foreign nationals, including the risk of petty and violent crimes. Clients are advised to exercise heightened security awareness. Clients are further advised to request vetted taxi services from a trusted local contact or an upmarket place of accommodation.


Europe and Russia

FRANCE (Country risk rating: Medium); 3 July; (Update) Activist-led protest expected at Place de la Republique, Paris

Activist groups and opposition parties, including the candidate for the La France Insoumise party in the first round of the April 2017 presidential election, Jean-Luc Melenchon, have called for a demonstration in Paris, the capital of France, on 3 July. The agitation has been called to denounce the renewal of the state of emergency (SOE) for an additional six months and the proposals of the administration of recently elected president, Emmanuel Macron, to change the labour laws of the country. Participants are expected to gather at Place de la Republique in the capital from 18:00 local time. This is the latest call for demonstrations to oppose the extension of the SOE and to address a number of labour-related concerns and reforms that will affect workers in the country. Activists allege that the SOE has allowed police to act with impunity and that it has served as a platform to suppress and restrict social and labour movements, migrants, minorities and those deemed poor and marginalised. The gathering is expected to be well attended; as such, localised travel disruptions should be expected in the vicinity of the demonstration-affected site. Although the protest is expected to conclude without incident, the possibility that it will be marred by low-level acts of violence cannot be discounted.

Advice: Clients in Paris on 3 July are advised to avoid all street protests as a standard precaution. Allowances should be made for potential disruptions. Furthermore, persons operating in France in the near-term should monitor local media for updates on further protest action.


FRANCE (Country risk rating: Medium); 2 July; Shooting incident reported in Avignon

A shooting incident was reported in Avignon, France, on 2 July. At least two unidentified gunmen are said to have approached a local mosque, Arrahma (located on Rue Barcelona), and shot at passersby and attendees at approximately 22:00 local time. At least eight people are said to have been wounded in the incident and the gunmen fled the scene. An increased police presence is expected to remain at the scene for the immediate-term, including on 3 July, as investigations conclude. While the motivation behind the incident remains unclear, authorities have ruled out the incident as being terrorist related, stating that it is being considered a violent crime incident. The security response is currently largely precautionary. Police operations are anticipated to result in localised travel disruptions in the vicinity of the mosque.

Advice: Persons in Avignon are advised to exercise heightened situational awareness and monitor local media for information regarding the incident and associated security operations. Localised travel disruptions are anticipated.


POLAND (Country risk rating: Medium); 2 to 12 July; Activists to protest amid UNESCO conference in Krakow

Activist-led demonstrations are expected amid the 41st session of the International UNESCO Conference, which is scheduled to take place in Krakow, Poland, until 12 July. The majority of the events related to the conference, which commenced on 2 July, are expected to take place in the vicinity of the ICE Krakow Congress Centre, located on Marii Konopnickiej Street. Security, including barricades, road closures and an increase in police deployment, is expected to remain in place for the duration of the affected period. Furthermore, activist groups opposed to the expansion of a commercial project in Bialowieza Forest have indicated their intention to hold protests amid the conference. Poland's environment minister, Jan Szyszko, has faced criticism after allowing increased logging in the forest, which is deemed to be of great cultural and natural significance and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Specific details regarding the proposed gatherings are currently unavailable. As interest groups have indicated their intention to use the event as a platform to voice their grievances by way of rallies and demonstrations, security forces are likely to remain deployed in the vicinity of all conference-related venues. Furthermore, security forces are likely to attempt to disperse unsanctioned protests. Accordingly, there is a possibility of clashes between protesters and police. Due to the number of people and high-profile individuals attending the events, the aforementioned increased security measures and associated localised traffic disruptions should be anticipated for the duration of the conference.

Advice: Persons in Krakow are advised to adhere to any advisories issued by local authorities and to avoid all protest gatherings in the city during this period as a precaution against civil unrest. Clients are further advised to anticipate and plan for travel disruptions that may arise as a result of the increased security measures.


SPAIN (Country risk rating: Low); 4 July; Rolling strike to disrupt services at Palma de Mallorca airport

Disruptions to flight services are anticipated at Palma de Mallorca airport, located in Majorca, Spain, from 4 July, due to rolling strikes by unionised airport employees. The strike action has been called with regard to a number of labour concerns, including working conditions. The strikes are set to take place every Tuesday and Saturday at the facility throughout July. The recent strike comes amid failing negotiations between associated unions and airport authorities. While it is unclear how well the action will be supported, disruptions, including delays and cancellations, are anticipated. Given the ongoing nature of the dispute, the strike may be suspended or extended on an ad hoc basis.

Advice: Persons scheduled to transit through Palma de Mallorca airport for at least the short- to medium-term should anticipate delays and are advised to contact their airline or travel provider to enquire about the status of their flight(s).


SWEDEN (Country risk rating: Low); 2 July; Several wounded in a shooting incident in Malmo

At least three people were wounded in a shooting incident in Holma district, in southern Malmo, Sweden, on 2 July. It is believed at least two suspects fled the scene on a small motorcycle. A large police contingent and several ambulances were deployed to the scene of the shooting. The area was cordoned off while police conducted a crime scene investigation. The police have stated that they will step up patrols in the area over the near-term to mitigate the risk of further related violence. No arrests have been made.

Advice: Clients in the affected area are advised to exercise heightened security awareness and adhere to all directives issued by the local authorities. Clients conducting travel in the affected area should also anticipate for travel delays and are advised to plan accordingly.


TURKEY (Country risk rating: High); 2 July; Police disperse Trans Pride demonstration in Istanbul

The police dispersed a group of Trans Pride demonstrators in the vicinity of Taksim Square, in Istanbul, Turkey, on 2 July. Activists proceeded with the demonstration despite the government's ban on any associated gatherings. No major violence was reported; however, at least seven people were detained. Unauthorised LGBT gatherings in Istanbul have been met with robust police action in the past, including the use of teargas and the arrests of activists. The police are also likely to disperse any further LGBT-related gatherings with force.

Advice: Clients in Turkey are advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations in Turkey.


Middle East and North Africa

EGYPT (Country risk rating: High); 29 June to 3 July; Possible protests countrywide in response to fuel increase

Egypt's government raised the price of fuel/gasoline, diesel, butane gas and natural gas by approximately half on 29 June. The price of cooking gas cylinders was also increased. The decisions are the latest austerity measures imposed by the Egyptian government to meet the conditions for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan. The controversial decision will further increase anti-government sentiment after a recent controversial decision to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. The island deal, the increasing fuel prices and a generally depressed economic climate have increased opposition to the military-backed government of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The potential for anti-government demonstrations remains elevated. Given the government's focus on quashing opposition protests, large well-organised events are considered possible but less likely than smaller events at this point. Spontaneous protests against the fuel increase and in response to general discontent with government policies remain possible countrywide. This could occur near fuel supply centres, in city centres and near government buildings and near mosques. Note that small protests have the potential to increase in size and result in localised road travel disruptions. The threat of violence at all related events remains high and increases if police order the dispersal of gatherings.

Advice: Clients in Egypt should avoid all street protests as a standard precaution. Caution is advised near possible protest sites.


IRAQ (Country risk rating: High); 3 July; Pro-government forces make gains against IS in Mosul

Military operations against Islamic State (IS) fighters in Mosul, located in Iraq's northern Ninewa governorate, continue. Pro-government forces have announced several victories in recent days, including capturing the symbolically important Grand al-Nuri Mosque, the site of the declaration of the caliphate by IS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in 2014, and the Makawi district of Mosul's Old City on 2 July. In response to the mosque's capture, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued a statement declaring the end of the IS caliphate. This victory follows the capture of most districts in the city from IS. Despite these successes, IS forces still control isolated pockets in city centre and have continued to conduct hit and run attacks against pro-government forces. IS forces have lost control of most of Mosul and continue to be pushed back elsewhere in the country and in neighbouring Syria. Despite these setbacks, the group maintains the operational capability to conduct attacks. These attacks can take several forms, including bombing and complex bomb and gun attacks. It is likely to take several more months for the Iraqi government to stabilise and secure Mosul and its immediate surrounds. During this period, IS is likely to seek to regroup and continue to harass pro-government and non-Sunni Arab communities across Iraq. The threat will remain highest in majority Sunni Arab areas in northern Iraq. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)-controlled territory in the far north and north east remains fairly stable and less prone to IS action.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel to Ninewa governorate. Persons operating in this region should travel with a security escort and reside in secure compounds. All travel should be conducted with prior consultation with a security provider and/or a comprehensive itinerary specific risk assessment.


IRAQ (Country risk rating: High); 29/30 June; Service delivery protests in Najaf governorate

Service delivery protests were reported in Najaf governorate, southern Iraq, overnight on 29/30 June. The protests were sparked by power outages. Clashes between protesters and the police left at least one person dead. Roads were also blocked. Media reports indicate that several districts of the governorate were affected, including Najaf city. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the road to Abu Sakhair was blocked during the evening. Such protests are commonplace in Iraq during the region's summer months. Further protests are possible in Najaf's cities and towns over the near-term. Note that should further demonstrations occur, the threat of further roadblocks and associated road travel disruptions is high. Roadblocks can affect secondary roads and major roads, including routes 9 and 70 running north to south through the governorate's major urban centres.

Advice: Clients are advised against all non-essential travel to Najaf governorate. Personnel in or planning to travel by road through the governorate should avoid all street protests as a standard precaution. Road users should also adjust itineraries to cater for potential road travel disruptions.


LEBANON (Country risk rating: High); 2 July; Fatalities due to fire at refugee camp in Bekaa Valley

At least three people were killed, including a child, and several others wounded as a result of a fire in a refugee camp, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, on 2 July. The refugee camp, which was catering for Syrian nationals who have fled the ongoing conflict in Syria, is located near the town of Qab Elias, approximately 46km east from the capital, Beirut. At least 100 tents were destroyed in the blaze and 700 people were evacuated from the camp. The authorities have been conducting assessments of the damage and are attempting to provide essential needs, including shelter, for those affected. Reports indicate that the fire was caused by a cooking stove. At present, Lebanon is hosting approximately 1 million registered Syrian refugees, many living in tented settlements scattered around the country, including in Bekaa Valley. Disruptions are expected in the vicinity of the refugee camp, including localised travel, as agencies such as the UN and the Lebanese government attempt to assess the extent of the damage and provide shelter for the Syrian nationals affected by the recent blaze. Although protests are not expected in the coming hours and days in connection with the incident, these cannot be discounted.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel to the numerous refugee camps in Lebanon, including in Bekaa Valley, due to ongoing insecurity in these areas. Personnel operating in Bekaa Valley should avoid the affected camp until the situation stabilises. Persons operating in or near Palestinian refugee camps should be accompanied by a local security escort.


SAUDI ARABIA (Country risk rating: High); 30 June; Six killed in Houthi missile attack in Najran

Pro-Houthi news outlets reported that six Saudi soldiers were killed in a ballistic missile attack on the al-Shabaka military base, located in the Najran region of Saudi Arabia, on 30 June. The missile was reportedly fired by Houthi rebels based in neighbouring Yemen. Saudi officials have yet to confirm the attack. Iranian-supplied Houthi rebels based in Yemen frequently engage in missile, rocket and mortar fire against Saudi forces located in the southern Najran and Jizan regions. Saudi Arabia's involvement in Yemen's ongoing civil war has increased the risk to persons in the border regions with Yemen. The Houthis have an arsenal of both short- and long-range missiles and rockets and have alleged that their ballistic missiles can reach the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Countermeasures employed by the Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces (RSADF) frequently result in the interception of ballistic and other missiles fired from Yemen; however, these measures occasionally fail. Insecurity in these areas is expected to persist in the near-term, as further Houthi assaults into southern Saudi Arabia are anticipated. It should be noted that this conflict generally impacts the immediate border area only and does not directly affect the overall security environment.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel to within 10km of the shared Yemen-Saudi Arabia border in southern Saudi Arabia. In addition, clients are advised against all non-essential travel to a further 20km beyond the 10km extreme-risk zone due to the risks of conflict and terrorism. Persons operating in the vicinity of the shared border should coordinate travel with a security escort and the local authorities.


SYRIA (Country risk rating: Extreme); 2 July; Bombing in Damascus

At least 20 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Syria's capital, Damascus, on 2 July. The incident occurred at Tahrir Square, near Bab Touma. The suicide bomber was reportedly one of three suspected attackers being pursued by police forces; the other two assailants were killed while being pursued, along the road to Damascus Airport. The incident serves to underscore the extreme threats of terrorism and conflict in Syria. Conflict and terrorist-related incidents are frequently reported across the country in both conflict and non-conflict areas. In Damascus, fighting and associated violence is typically reported south, east and north east of the city centre where rebel and militant groups remain active. Due to the general insecurity in and around the city, further such attacks are anticipated, including in the city's relatively secure central areas.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel to Damascus. Persons in the city are advised to travel with a security escort and reside in secure accommodation. Travel away from the city centre should be minimised.


TUNISIA (Country risk rating: High); 30 June; German tourists stabbed in Nabeul

Two German tourists were stabbed and wounded by an unidentified assailant in Nabeul, located 70km south east of the capital, Tunis, in north eastern Tunisia, on 30 June. The incident reportedly occurred in a local market area. Media reports indicate that locals apprehended the suspect shortly after the attack and handed him to the authorities. The government has issued a statement saying that the incident was not an act of terrorism and that the assailant had mental problems. Tunisia has faced several high-profile acts of terrorism against foreign visitors in recent years. Islamist extremists pose the highest risk.


Sub-Saharan Africa

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (Country risk rating: Extreme); 28 to 30 June; Fatal clashes in Zemio, Haut-Mbomou

At least 22 people were killed in armed clashes between Fulani herdsmen and militia fighters in Zemio (Haut-Mbomou prefecture), in the Central African Republic (CAR), from 28 to 30 June. Media reports indicate that the Fulani herdsmen involved in the fighting are aligned to the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC), a faction of the former Seleka rebel alliance. Hundreds of people are said to have fled the area due to the violence. It is unclear what sparked the fighting. The fighting serves to underscore the elevated conflict-related risks in the CAR despite attempts to end the ongoing violence after the representatives of over a dozen armed groups signed a ceasefire agreement with the government on 19 June. Much of the violence can be attributed to hostilities between factions of the former Seleka rebel alliance, which is now split into competing religious and ethnic factions. Reports indicate that these militias have not only been attacking each other but have also targeted local civilians on the basis of their ethnicity and/or perceived affiliation to antagonistic rebel groups. Over 300 people were killed and tens of thousands displaced during a bout of fighting in Bria, Bangassou and Alindao in May. Further violence, posing a threat to locals and foreign nationals alike, is likely to continue in the near-term at least.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel to the CAR due to political instability and associated insecurity. Persons currently operating in the country despite this advisory should ensure that robust travel, residential and personal security measures are in place; crisis management plans should also be regularly reviewed and updated in conjunction with a security provider. Clients are further advised to avoid areas recently affected by violence as a standard precaution.


NIGER (Country risk rating: High); 29 June; Two killed following militant attack in Kabelawa, Diffa region

At least two people were killed and a further 11 were wounded following an attack by militants at a refugee camp in the Kabelawa commune, located in Niger's south eastern Diffa region, on 29 June. Local media reports indicate that the Nigeria-based Boko Haram group was behind the assault. Boko Haram factions are known to have an operational presence in southern Niger. Attacks have generally been limited to the country's south eastern Diffa and Zinder regions, which share a porous border with Nigeria's insurgent-embattled Yobe and Borno states. Following the Nigerien government's operational and logistical support of regional anti-Boko Haram initiatives, the sect has executed a number of retaliatory attacks targeting settlements in these regions. An increasing number of attacks are being carried out by women and children, as they are better able to bypass security defences. Despite this being the first such attack in southern Niger in 2017, additional attacks by the group can be expected in the future.

Advice: Due to the high risks of crime, kidnapping, conflict and terrorism, clients are advised against all travel to areas located within a 50km radius of Niger's shared border with Nigeria in the administrative region of Diffa. This advisory extends to the Kabelawa commune. Persons operating in the region despite this advisory should ensure that all movements are coordinated in the presence of a security escort and that accommodation is sought in secured residential compounds.


SOUTH AFRICA (Country risk rating: High); 3 July; High-profile political meeting underway in Johannesburg

Localised business and travel disruptions have been reported in Johannesburg, located in South Africa's Gauteng province, due to security measures associated with an ongoing political event on 3 July. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) party is currently holding its fifth national policy conference at the city's Nasrec Expo Centre; security has been elevated in the area due to the high-profile nature of the event. An increased security force presence, as well as various movement-restrictive measures, are expected to remain in the vicinity of the venue for the duration of the conference, which is scheduled to conclude on 5 July. Although no overt threats have been identified for the event, the potential for protests cannot be discounted. Demonstrations stemming from various political and socio-economic issues occur fairly frequently in the country; the ANC's event may serve as a platform for groups to voice their grievances.

Advice: Persons operating near the affected area during the aforementioned period should monitor local media for updates on the conference, as well as related advisories from the authorities. Clients are further advised to make allowances for localised travel and business disruptions in the vicinity of the Nasrec Expo Centre for the duration of the event; all related protest gatherings and concentrations of security forces should be avoided as a standard precaution.


SOUTH AFRICA (Country risk rating: High); 1 to 3 July; Protests and road closures in Hout Bay

Service delivery protests are ongoing in Hout Bay in Cape Town, South Africa, on 3 July. The protests were initiated by some residents of Imizamo Yethu on 1 July. Protesters, who are demanding housing following a March fire in a part of the neighbourhood, have blocked roads and clashed with the police on several occasions. Severe disruptions, including road closures, have been reported near Imizamo Yethu. Affected roads including Victoria Road, Hout Bay Road and Hout Bay Main Road. In a separate development, Chapman's Peak Drive remains closed due to rock falls. The protest action and rock fall closure have severely disrupted private and public transportation in and around Hout Bay. The protests are expected to persist until the government meets the protesters' demands. Hout Bay is a popular tourist location and serves as a link between the Cape Town CBD and Cape Point.

Advice: Persons in Cape Town should avoid the area in and around Imizamo Yethu until the protest action ceases. All street protests in the area should be avoided. Due to road closures, motorists should seek alternative road routes south of the Cape Town CBD, including via Ou Kaapse Weg (M64) and M4.