2 January 2016


News summary

 
BRAZIL - Armed attack on New Year's Eve in Campinas
BRAZIL - Death of Greek Ambassador not linked to crime
GUATEMALA - Security threat prompts closure of US Embassy in Guatemala City
HAITI - (Update) Elevated risk of protests amid announcement of election results
MEXICO - Further protests over fuel prices likely countrywide
UNITED STATES - Adverse weather warnings for several states
 
CHINA - Smog alerts issued for various location in northeast
INDIA - Protests possible in Uttar Pradesh after minister expelled
INDIA - Large-scale rally in Lucknow
INDIA - (Update) Further countrywide protests planned by bank union members
INDIA - Israel warns of threat to Western nationals in India
INDONESIA - Casualties due to fire on passenger vessel near Jakarta
INDONESIA - (Update) Risk of protests in Jakarta amid controversial trial
MALAYSIA - Evacuations due to flooding in Terengganu
MYANMAR - Dozens killed in landslide in Kachin state
NEPAL - UDMF-led protests in the Terai region
 
ARMENIA / AZERBAIJAN - Border clashes in the Chinari area
ITALY - Explosion outside neo-fascist bookstore in Florence
TURKEY - Manhunt ongoing following nightclub shooting in Istanbul
TURKEY - Suspected IS militants arrested in Ankara, Adana and Sakarya
 
BAHRAIN - Gunmen free prisoners from Jau prison in southern Manama
IRAQ - Islamic State attacks in Baghdad and Najaf
 
CAMEROON - Protest marches planned in Buea and Bamenda
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - (Update) Political parties sign agreement
KENYA - Water rationing in Nairobi
MADAGASCAR - Anti-dahalo security operation launched
TANZANIA - Cholera outbreak reported in Dodoma Region
 





 

Americas

BRAZIL (Country risk rating: High); 31 December and 1 January; Armed attack on New Year's Eve in Campinas

Eleven people were killed in an armed attack during New Year celebrations in the city of Campinas, located in southeast Brazil, overnight on 31 December and 1 January. The shooting appears to be connected to a domestic dispute; nonetheless, it should be noted that violent crime is a serious concern in Brazil. Although locals fall victim to the majority of serious crimes, such as murder and sexual assault, foreign nationals have also been affected. Much of the violent crime takes place in the lower-income areas in and surrounding all major cities. Note that clashes between rival gangs and criminal groups, as well as the police, are a frequent occurrence in favelas and can spill out into surrounding areas. This poses an incidental risk to bystanders.

Advice: Persons in Campinas should avoid the recently affected area until the situation has stabilised. Any advisory issued by the local authorities should be followed. Heightened caution is advised in low-income areas of major cities due to the high levels of both petty and violent crime.


BRAZIL (Country risk rating: High); 26 December; Death of Greek Ambassador not linked to crime

A police officer has claimed responsibility for the death of the Greek Ambassador to Brazil, Kyriakos Amiridis, who was initially suspected of being the victim of violent crime in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro state. The suspected is believed to have been romantically involved with Amiridis' wife. Amiridis went missing in the municipality of Nova Iguacu, located in the Greater Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area, on 26 December, before his body was identified by authorities. The incident is not indicative of the elevated risk of violent crime in Brazil; nonetheless, it should be noted that there has been a steady increase in instances of violent crime following the relaxing of security after the 2016 Olympic Games. Additionally, the period between December and January has generally witnessed an increased level of reported crime corresponding with the holiday period. High-risk areas for violent crime are typically low-income areas ('favelas'), where local gangs are known to operate; nonetheless, the recent incident demonstrates that no area is immune to violent criminal activity. The risk of physical violence increases if robbery attempts are resisted.

Advice: Persons travelling in Brazil should ensure that they do so during the day and with a trusted local contact who is familiar with the security environment. As assailants are often armed, clients are advised not to resist in the event of a robbery.


GUATEMALA (Country risk rating: High); 30 December; Security threat prompts closure of US Embassy in Guatemala City

The US Embassy in Guatemala's capital, Guatemala City, closed on 30 December due to a security threat. No specific threat was confirmed. The closure coincided with a scheduled closure over the holiday period. The facility will re-open on 3 January. Guatemala has a low threat of terrorism and the closure served largely as a precaution.

Advice: Persons requiring consular assistance or further information on the closure should visit the US Embassy website.


HAITI (Country risk rating: High); 3 January; (Update) Elevated risk of protests amid announcement of election results

The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) in Haiti is set to announce the final results of the 20 November presidential election, on 3 January. Preliminary results indicated a victory for Jovenel Moise of the Haitian Tet Kale Party (PHTK), with more than 50 percent of the vote. If this result is confirmed, Moise will take office on 7 February 2017. The preliminary results sparked widespread protests in Haiti, particularly in the capital, Port-au-Prince, by supporters of losing candidates, including the runner-up, Jude Celestin, as well as supporters of the Fanmi Lavalas party. Protests relating to the final election results are expected to persist in the near-term at least, as contending candidates are expected to challenge these results. Previous election-related protests have been marred by incidents of vandalism and low-level violence between protesters and police forces. Further violence of this nature is expected at all related protests.

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


MEXICO (Country risk rating: High); 1 January; Further protests over fuel prices likely countrywide

Protests over increases in fuel prices took place in various parts of Mexico, including the capital, Mexico City, on 1 January, when the price increase took effect. Protesters also blocked several major highways, including the Mexico-Queretaro highway, Coatzacoalcos-Salina Cruz highway (Oaxaca). As the matter is ongoing and unlikely to be resolved in the immediate-term, further related protest action and associated blockades are expected. While the recent protests concluded largely peacefully, the risk of low-level confrontations between security forces and protesters at all related events cannot be discounted.

Advice: Clients in Mexico in the near-term are advised to monitor local media for further possible protests. All large street gatherings should be avoided as a standard precaution. Furthermore, heightened caution is advised across Mexico due to the threats of crime and kidnapping and the incidental risk of organised crime-related conflict.


UNITED STATES (Country risk rating: Medium); 1 to 3 January; Adverse weather warnings for several states

The National Weather Service (NWS) in the US issued several weather warnings for several states in the south east, as well in the north of the US, on 2 January. In the south eastern states of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, Flood Warnings and related advisories in the southern areas on 1 January; these are expected to remain in place until at least 3 January. Elsewhere, the NWS maintains various winter-weather advisories in the states of Washington, Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, as well northern Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California. Winter Storm Warnings are also in place in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as southern Oregon and northern California. Disruptions associated with the adverse weather, including to road, rail and air travel, should be anticipated. Disruptions to utilities, including power supply and telecommunications, are also possible.

Advice: Persons currently operating in the affected areas of the US are advised to monitor local media for updates and developments, and should comply with the directives issued by authorities. In the southern states, flood-affected areas, particularly near rivers or canals, should be avoided. Flexible itineraries should be kept due to the anticipated travel disruptions.


Asia and Pacific

CHINA (Country risk rating: Medium); 30 December to 5 January; Smog alerts issued for various location in northeast

The China Meteorological Administration (CMA)'s National Meteorological Centre (NMC) issued red and orange alerts for severe smog levels in China on 30 December. The areas affected include multiple locations across Beijing, Hebei, and Tianjin in northern China. The orange and red alerts, being the second highest and highest alerts on a four-tier system respectively, are set to remain in place until at least 5 January. School classes have been suspended in some locations and restrictions on the use of industrial vehicles have also been reported in the affected areas. Dozens of flights were cancelled in Tianjian on 31 December, due to poor visibility. China often issues warnings over air quality and the resultant poor visibility and health concerns thereof. The poor air quality often stems from high levels of pollution due to increased industrialisation. The heavy smog poses a risk to the young and elderly, particularly those with respiratory concerns. Due to the effects of the pollution, reduced visibility often results in road closures, as well as flight disruptions. The above-mentioned restrictions and associated regulations are likely to result in further travel disruptions for the affected period, and possibly beyond that, should the situation persist.

Advice: Clients in or planning to travel to China in the coming days are advised to adhere to all directives issued by the local authorities. Furthermore, persons intending to use air travel in the aforementioned areas should contact their airline or travel provider prior to departure to check the status of their flight(s). Persons in smog-affected areas who are experiencing respiratory issues are advised to consult with a medical practitioner for further guidance.


INDIA (Country risk rating: High); 30 December; Protests possible in Uttar Pradesh after minister expelled

Further protests are possible in India's Uttar Pradesh state over the controversial expulsion of the state chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, of the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) on 30 December. Akhilesh's father and party chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav, expelled him for six years over alleged indiscipline. Shortly after the announcement, hundreds of protesters gathered outside Mulayam's house in the state capital, Lucknow. There was also one self-immolation incident reported. Security personnel have been deployed to the affected site, and are likely to be observed across the capital in the short-term to prevent any further agitation. Skirmishes between police and protesters at any further associated demonstrations cannot be discounted. In addition, localised travel disruptions in the protest-affected areas are likely. Associated protests in other major urban centres across the state are possible.

Advice: Persons in Uttar Pradesh, including Lucknow, in the coming days are advised to monitor local media for developments and further protest action. All protests and associated large scale gatherings should be avoided as a standard precaution.


INDIA (Country risk rating: High); 2 January; Large-scale rally in Lucknow

A large-scale rally organised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is scheduled to take place in Lucknow, in India's Uttar Pradesh state, during the course of 2 January. Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the BJP is expected to address the rally, which will be held at the Ramabai Ambedkar Rally Grounds. The event has been organised to gather support ahead of state legislative elections in Uttar Pradesh in 2017. The BJP is an opposition party in the state, despite ruling on the national level. Organisers have stated that they expect 500,000 people to attend. Given the expected turnout and likely associated security force deployment, considerable disruptions are expected in the vicinity of the rally. In addition, although the upcoming event is expected to conclude peacefully, the risk of related protests and associated violence cannot be discounted.

Advice: Persons in Lucknow for the remainder of 2 January are advised to avoid all protest gatherings as a precaution. Itineraries should be kept flexible to accommodate potential delays as a result of the rally.


INDIA (Country risk rating: High); 2 and 3 January; (Update) Further countrywide protests planned by bank union members

Members of the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and the All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA) are set to observe further protests in state capitals across India, on 2 and 3 January. The exact locations of the protests are unclear. The demonstrations have been called to protest newly implemented currency restrictions and the demonetisation of high-value (500 and 1,000 rupee) currency notes, as well as the government's implementation thereof. Although related protests held on 28 December concluded without major incident, the possibility of violence and confrontations at the upcoming protests cannot be discounted. Additionally, localised travel disruptions are possible in the vicinity of protests; more than one hundred people are said to have participated in the 28 December protests around the country. Disruptions to banking services are also possible.

Advice: Clients in India on 2 and 3 January are advised to conduct any required transactions prior to the agitation and should maintain a cash reserve as a precautionary measure. Furthermore, all protests, gatherings and concentrations of security forces should be avoided as a general precaution.


INDIA (Country risk rating: High); 31 December; Israel warns of threat to Western nationals in India

Israel's anti-terrorism directorate on 31 December issued a warning of an "immediate threat of attack to Western and tourist targets" in India. The warning states that beach parties, nightclubs and areas frequented by Western nationals may be at risk of attack, particularly in the south west of the country. The warning also recommends avoiding markets, festivals and crowded shopping areas. The warning serves to underscore the continuous elevated risk of terrorism in India. There is a high risk stemming from Islamist extremist groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), both of which have demonstrated the capacity to perpetrate attacks in the country. There is also a threat from radicalised Islamic State (IS)-affiliated individuals or those sympathetic to their cause, who may seek to perpetrate attacks in the country. Warnings and associated security increases are regular occurrences in India, where key facilities, government installations and transport hubs are regularly placed on a heightened alert status in response to actual or perceived risks. As such, security at key ports of entry and strategic state interests is already elevated. In response to the aforementioned warning, security may be increased in other crowded areas such as marketplaces, tourist areas and facilities representing Western interests.

Advice: Persons operating in India should adhere to any directives or warnings issued by the authorities regarding the implementation of any security measures. Clients are advised to exercise heightened security awareness and to report all suspicious persons, packages and/or vehicles to the local authorities.


INDONESIA (Country risk rating: High); 1 January; Casualties due to fire on passenger vessel near Jakarta

At least 23 people were killed after a passenger vessel caught alight near Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, on 1 January. The ferry is said to have been carrying approximately 200 people from Jakarta's port of Muara Angke to Tidung Tidung Island. Reports indicate that the fire started when a power generator on the boat short-circuited. Ferry and boat travel is a common form of transport in Indonesia; however, safety standards are often lax, with vessels often in a poor state of repair. Accidents are regularly reported, and vessels are usually overloaded, further adding to the risk.

Advice: Persons intending to undertake boat travel in Indonesia are advised to only use the services of reputable operators and avoid any vessels that are overcrowded and/or appear to be in a severe state of disrepair. Clients are also advised to investigate safety precautions on their vessels prior to boarding.


INDONESIA (Country risk rating: High); 3 January; (Update) Risk of protests in Jakarta amid controversial trial

The high-profile trial against Jakarta's governor, Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama, is set to resume in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, on 3 January. The trial follows an official investigation launched against Ahok, for delivering an allegedly blasphemous speech. Protests are expected in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, amid the trial. The trial will resume at the Agriculture Ministry's building in Pasar Minggu, located in southern Jakarta. An elevated security force presence is expected outside the venue on 3 January as a precaution against possible unrest. The governor's alleged blasphemy has sparked mass demonstrations in Jakarta in recent weeks, including by members of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), who are opposed to the former Jakarta governor. It should be noted that despite the emotive nature of the issue, previous protests have largely concluded without major incident; nonetheless, the possibility of clashes cannot be discounted. Travel disruptions in the affected area are also possible.

Advice: Persons in Jakarta on 3 January and subsequent trial days are advised to avoid the upcoming demonstrations and any related gatherings as a precaution. Local media should be monitored for updates on the trial processions. Clients should also anticipate localised traffic disruptions in the affected areas.


MALAYSIA (Country risk rating: Medium); 28 December to 2 January; Evacuations due to flooding in Terengganu

At least 4,000 people have been evacuated following heavy rains and associated flooding across Terengganu state in Malaysia, as of 2 January. The worst-affected areas include the districts of Hulu Terengganu, Kuala Terengganu and Kemaman; significant flooding has also been reported in Hulu Terengganu, Marang and Dungun. The flooding has left several roads in the region inaccessible, resulting in significant disruptions to travel, since 28 December. Malaysia is impacted by the north east monsoon, which runs from October to February. As a result of the ongoing rain in the region, further disruptions in Terengganu and surrounds remain likely. Further flooding and associated road travel disruptions should be expected. Disruptions to utilities such as water, electricity and telecommunications are also possible.

Advice: Clients in the aforementioned flood-affected areas should adhere to all directives issued by authorities and anticipate travel disruptions. Moreover, caution is advised in low-lying areas, particularly along rivers, due to the threats of flooding and landslides.


MYANMAR (Country risk rating: Medium); 30 December; Dozens killed in landslide in Kachin state

Dozens of people have died in a landslide in the Hpakant township, in the jade mining Mohnyin District in Kachin state, Myanmar, according to reports on 30 December. The incident occurred on 28 December, after a 122-metre cliff of waste soil collapsed. Relief efforts are currently underway. Landslides are common in the Hpakant area, which is central to the country's jade mining industry. The Myanmar Red Cross Society reported that at least 300 people died in related landslides at jade mines in Kachin state in 2015, according to statements in local media. A number have been reported in the Hpakant area since operations were resumed in October, following the end of the rainy season.

Advice: Clients are advised against non-essential travel to Kachin state due to conflicts in these areas. A secondary concern in this state is the presence of landmines; heightened caution is advised. Travel to these areas should be undertaken with a trained security driver familiar with the region.


NEPAL (Country risk rating: High); 2 January; UDMF-led protests in the Terai region

Protests organised by the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) are underway across Nepal's Terai region, on 2 January. The agitation has been organised to pressure the major parties to pass a revised constitutional amendment bill, ahead of the announcement of the dates of the upcoming local elections. The UDMF is a coalition of political parties representing ethnic Madhesi interests from the southern Terai region. The ethnic Madhesi people in the Terai region have long complained of discrimination from the government. Disruptions associated with the protests should be anticipated for the remainder of 2 January, at least. While none have been reported as yet, low-level acts of violence, including clashes between police and protesters, remain possible.

Advice: Clients in Nepal are advised to monitor local developments closely. All protest action should be avoided as a precaution against violent unrest. In addition, heightened caution is advised in the Terai region.


Europe and Russia

ARMENIA / AZERBAIJAN; 29 December; Border clashes in the Chinari area

Clashes were reported between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops along the shared Armenia-Azerbaijan border near the town of Chinari in northern Armenia early on 29 December. One Azerbaijani and three Armenian soldiers were killed. The clashes are some of the most severe confrontations since a major encounter between the two sides in April 2016 in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which left dozens of combatants dead. The Nagorno-Karabakh area is the typical site for confrontations with less frequent clashes elsewhere, including the Chinari area. The recent violence underscores the potential risk along all of the frontiers between the two countries.

Advice: Clients are advised against all non-essential travel to within 10km of the shared border in both Azerbaijan and Armenia, including in the Chinari area. Persons operating near the shared border or in the vicinity of the various disputed territories should travel with a security escort.


ITALY (Country risk rating: Low); 1 January; Explosion outside neo-fascist bookstore in Florence

A bomb blast occurred in Florence, Italy, on 1 January. The incident took place outside a bookstore run by a neo-fascist group. Authorities were alerted to a suspicious package, which detonated while a security official was investigating the package, resulting in serious injuries to the official, who was either a policeman or a member of a bomb disposal squad, according to conflicting reports. The blast was the third attack on the bookshop the past year, according to a statement by the president of a far-right political movement. Italy also has a long history of non-Islamist domestic terrorism. This ranges from neo-fascist groups, such as the Armed Revolutionary Nuclei (NAR or Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari), extreme left-wing organisations, such as the Red Brigades (BR or Brigate Rosse), as well as organised crime elements. Isolated incidents of domestic terrorism occur sporadically; these typically involve low-level bombings targeting Italian government offices, security forces and rival groups. It should be noted that while foreign nationals are not typically targeted by these attacks, there is a threat to any bystanders in the vicinity thereof.

Advice: Persons in Florence should avoid the affected area as investigations may still be ongoing. Clients in the city are advised to exercise heightened situational awareness and monitor local media for information on current and related security operations.


TURKEY (Country risk rating: High); 2 January; Manhunt ongoing following nightclub shooting in Istanbul

A major manhunt continues in Istanbul, Turkey, on 2 January, as an unidentified gunman involved in a mass shooting at the Reina nightclub, in Istanbul, remains at large. At least 39 people, including numerous foreign nationals, were killed in the shooting, which took place at the nightclub in the Ortakoy area early on 1 January. Counterterrorism raids are currently ongoing in Istanbul; however, authorities have not released specific details regarding the locations of the operations. The incident serves to underscore the continued elevated risk of terrorism in Turkey. The country has experienced several high-profile mass-casualty attacks since 2015. These have been linked to the Islamic State (IS), which Turkey is battling in northern Syria, and Kurd rebels operating in Turkey's south east. Further acts of terrorism are anticipated in Turkey. State, military and police personnel and facilities, crowded civilian areas and foreign interests generally are likely targets. Turkey's elevated security posture has reduced the risk of infiltration and a successful attack, but has not reduced the threat. As the situation remains ongoing, increased security measures should be anticipated in Istanbul over the coming hours. Additional police patrols, road closures and checkpoints are likely. Associated travel disruptions and road closures should be expected.

Advice: Persons operating in Turkey should exercise a generally heightened level of personal security awareness and limit time spent in the vicinity of probable terrorist targets, including ports of entry/departure, prominent tourist sights, busy and crowded areas and near police and military personnel and facilities.


TURKEY (Country risk rating: High); 31 December; Suspected IS militants arrested in Ankara, Adana and Sakarya

At least eight suspected Islamic State (IS) members were apprehended by anti-terrorist units during a security operation in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, on 31 December. The militants were reportedly planning to conduct attacks at an unspecified location during New Year's Eve celebrations. Suicide vests and explosives were also seized during the raid, according to local media reports. The incident follows reports on 30 December that police had arrested 40 suspected IS militants in the southern province of Adana, and seven suspected IS militants in Sakarya, in northwest Turkey.

Advice: Persons operating in Turkey should exercise a generally heightened level of personal security awareness and limit time spent in the vicinity of probable terrorist targets, including ports of entry/departure, prominent tourist sights, busy and crowded areas and near police and military personnel and facilities. Unusual behaviour, suspicious packages and strange devices should be immediately reported to police or security personnel.


Middle East and North Africa

BAHRAIN (Country risk rating: High); 1 January; Gunmen free prisoners from Jau prison in southern Manama

According to media reports, elevated security measures have been reported in southern Manama, capital of Bahrain, following an assault on the Jau prison by unidentified gunmen, who killed one guard and released a number of prisoners incarcerated on terrorism charges, on 1 January. Further details regarding the incident are unclear. Bahraini security forces are attempting to locate the inmates who are likely to still be in the wider Manama area. The risk of terrorism in Bahrain largely stems from militant members linked to or sympathetic to the Shiite Muslim opposition movement. Heightened security measures, including security checkpoints and identity checks and additional deployments of police, are anticipated in the city and surrounding areas in the coming days.

Advice: Clients are advised to anticipate travel delays and security checkpoints if operating in southern Manama. Any directives issued by local authorities in relation to the current situation in the city should be adhered to. If accosted by criminals, it is strongly advised to remain calm and comply with their directives. Finally, clients are reminded that heightened caution is advised outside of the capital, Manama, and the Bahrain International Airport, particularly in outlying Shiite villages, due to the elevated risk of civil unrest.


IRAQ (Country risk rating: High); 31 December and 1 January; Islamic State attacks in Baghdad and Najaf

The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for an attack on a security force checkpoint at al-Qadisiya town, near the city of Najaf, in south central Iraq, on 1 January. Gunmen opened fire at security forces manning the checkpoint, with a suicide car bomb also employed in the attack. Officials have stated that the assailants were on their way to the city of Najaf to conduct an attack. The incident follows an IS-claimed twin suicide attack at a marketplace in Sirnak, Baghdad on 31 December that left 29 people dead, and underscores the elevated terrorism risk in the country. Both low-level and mass-casualty attacks are regularly reported in the Najaf and Baghdad governorates; these acts are generally attributed to Sunni extremist groups, specifically those linked to the Islamic State (IS) and typically targeting Shiite communities or state interests. Due to the general insecurity in the region, further associated incidents are expected to persist. An increased security presence should be anticipated in the vicinity of the affected area in the near-term.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel to the Najaf and Baghdad governorates. Persons in the region should travel with a security escort and reside in secure compounds or hotels. Recent violence-affected areas should be avoided.


Sub-Saharan Africa

CAMEROON (Country risk rating: High); 2 January; Protest marches planned in Buea and Bamenda

Protest marches by unionised teachers and lawyers under the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC) have been scheduled in Buea, the capital of the Southwest Region of Cameroon and Bamenda, the capital of the Northwest Region, on 2 January 2017. There is a credible risk of clashes at the event, as local authorities have publicly stated that the march, called the Peaceful Anglophone Walk (POWA), has not been authorised. Related protests may take place in smaller cities throughout the aforementioned regions. The planned marches are the latest in a series of anti-government protests that have been held in the Northwest and Southwest region in recent weeks. The demonstrations were called against the widespread use of French in the predominantly English-speaking regions. Previous related protests have also degenerated into violence and prompted further protests, including the killing of at least four protesters in Bamenda on 8 December after security forces reportedly used live ammunition on protesters. As tensions remain elevated and in light of the recent unrest, a further escalation in protest activity in the aforementioned regions is anticipated for the short- to medium-term, at least.

Advice: Persons in Bamenda and Buea on 2 January should monitor local media for updates on the marches, exercise a heightened level of caution in public areas, and avoid all street protests and concentrations of security personnel. Localised travel disruptions are anticipated in the vicinity of protest sites.


DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (Country risk rating: High); 1 January; (Update) Political parties sign agreement

An agreement has been reached between political parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), following the expiration of President Joseph Kabila's presidential term on 19 December, and his initial refusal to step down. Under this agreement, which was signed by Kabila on 1 January, a transitional government with an opposition-appointed prime minister will be established by March 2017, and elections will be held by the end of 2017. Kabila would not be allowed to change the constitution to run for a third presidential term in the elections. Despite these developments, political tensions remain elevated and it is unclear whether all parties will abide the terms of the agreement over the medium-term. In light of this, further protests are possible in the coming months, particularly in major cities, including Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Goma, Kananga and other urban centres across the country. It should be noted that Kabila's refusal to step down sparked protests in numerous areas, including Kinshasa, following the expiration date. As many as 40 people were killed in the clashes. The risk of violence will remain high, particularly in the capital where there is a heavy police presence.

Advice: Clients are advised against all travel and all non-essential travel to parts of the DRC, while heightened caution is advised in the rest of the country. Persons operating in the DRC in the near- to medium-term should monitor local developments closely and ensure that contingency plans are regularly updated in consultation with their security provider. All demonstrations, large street gatherings and concentrations of security forces should be avoided as a standard precaution.


KENYA (Country risk rating: High); 1 January to April; Water rationing in Nairobi

The Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC) started water rationing on 1 January 2017 in Kenya's capital, Nairobi. The rationing plan will remain in place until at least April, when Kenya is expected to start receiving longer periods of rain. The NCWSC's announcement is due to low water levels at Ndakaini Dam and other sources which supply water to the city. Kenya is classified as a water-scarce country; conditions have been exacerbated by poor management of the water supply. The low water levels are of concern and will serve to increase the health risks to local residents and travellers. It is unclear at present whether there will be demonstrations against the water rationing measures in the short-term. However, water rationing in Kenya has led to protests in the past; the risk of unrest throughout the duration of the water rationing period in Nairobi cannot be discounted.

Advice: Clients in Kenya are advised to abide by local regulations regarding water usage and to monitor local media closely for updates from the authorities. Furthermore, travellers in Nairobi are advised to conserve water where possible. In addition, clients are advised to avoid all possible protest gatherings as a precaution.


MADAGASCAR (Country risk rating: High); 23 December; Anti-dahalo security operation launched

Authorities in Madagascar announced the launch of 'Operation Mazava', a security operation tasked with countering cattle rustling in Madagascar's rural central and southern areas, according to reports on 23 December. The operation will be comprised of 600 personnel from the military and National Gendarmerie, with support from the recently formed Anti-dahalo Special Unit (USAD), an elite unit of the National Gendarmerie. Operations will include air support and will centre on "zones rouges" (red zones): areas where cattle rustling frequently occurs, including in the Bongolava, Vakinankaratra, Menabe, Amoron'i Mania and Haute Matsiatra regions. Operation Mazava follows on from Operation Fahalemana, which was launched in 2015 in a bid to curb cattle rustling, which often results in fatal inter-communal conflict due to reprisal attacks. Most recently, as many as 30 bandits involved in cattle rustling were killed by security forces in the southern Ivohibe district on 21 December. The lucrative trade, which is being spurred on by high levels of unemployment and weakening government authority, has led to the formation of highly organised and well-armed criminal gangs, known locally as dahalos. Heavy-handed attacks by security forces upon suspected bandits are to be expected in the near-term. Bandits, some of whom carry assault rifles, are in turn likely to attack security force outposts and temporary bases in the aforementioned regions.

Advice: Persons intending to travel to rural Madagascar are advised to implement heightened security measures and monitor local developments closely. It should also be noted that security is likely to be heightened in the area in the medium-term; clients should anticipate an increase in security checkpoints on both primary and secondary roadways. It is advisable to ensure that certified copies of all relevant identification are kept on hand at all times.


TANZANIA (Country risk rating: Medium); 25 December; Cholera outbreak reported in Dodoma Region

At least seven people have died of cholera in the Dodoma Region of Tanzania. According to statements by authorities on 25 December, at least 300 cases have been confirmed, with 208 cases reported in the Mpwapwa district, followed by 95 cases in the Kongwa district, 18 cases in Chamwino district and eight cases in Dodoma. Tanzanian Health minister Ummy Mwalimu warned in early December that a countrywide cholera outbreak is possible, stating that over 450 cases had been detected by 6 December, with the worst-affected regions including Morogoro (282 cases), Dodoma (96 cases), Mara (31 cases), Kigoma (30 cases), Arusha (11 cases) and Dar es Salaam (8 cases). Cholera outbreaks regularly occur in Tanzania due to chronic sanitation problems often made worse by flooding and overcrowding. Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal intestinal infection caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the vibrio cholerae bacterium. Symptoms of the disease include watery diarrhoea and vomiting, which occur from six hours to five days after exposure to the bacterium. Although the disease can effectively be treated, practising good hygiene and consuming only properly purified water will significantly mitigate the chances of contracting it.

Advice: Persons currently in or intending to travel to central Tanzania should take precautions against contracting cholera, including using only bottled water and avoiding food and beverages sold by street vendors. In addition, clients are advised to monitor local developments and follow the directives of the authorities regarding public health advice and precautions. Heightened caution is advised in areas bordering Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC due to the risk of banditry.