Solace Global – Weekly Risk Roundup – Week 43

Headlines From This Week

  • Foreign national killed in Madagascar – A French national who had been a long-time resident in Madagascar was killed during an armed robbery in the Ankadikely Ilafy suburb of the capital Antananarivo. Police are currently searching for the assailants and it remains unclear at this time if the person was targeted specifically due to his nationality. Crime rates are high throughout the capital and the wider country due to the poor economic conditions and rising inequality. Robberies are common and foreigners can be targeted due to their presumed wealth. This incident is the second attack on a foreign national in as many months; in September, a United States diplomat was found dead in his residence following what is being investigated as a homicide.
  • Japanese hostage returns after three years in Syria – A freelance journalist has returned to Japan after spending three years in captivity in Syria. Jumpei Yasuda who went missing after travelling from Turkey to Syria in 2015, was confirmed captured in a video posted by militants in Syria in March 2016; allegedly by the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. Yasuda has come under pressure to reveal more details regarding his time in captivity. His health was checked prior to boarding the plane to Tokyo. The Japanese foreign ministry stated that no ransom had been paid.
  • Multiple companies snub Future Investment Initiative in Saudi Arabia – Due to the ongoing situation over the death of the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, numerous companies snubbed the Future Investment Initiative in Saudi Arabia. Dubbed “Davos in the Desert”, the conference intends to set the Saudi economy up for the “post-oil future”. Despite several major companies withdrawing from the event, many still attended with some understood to have signed deals with Saudi Arabia. Additionally, Saudi’s finance minister has announced that non-oil revenue grew by 48 percent in Q3.
  • Multiple suspicious packages sent to Democrats and the CNN building in the US – Numerous suspicious packages were sent to the addresses of a number of prominent Democratic politicians and Trump critics on 24 and 25 October. While not confirmed for all the devices, it has been reported that at least one contained a “live explosive device”. All packages have thus far been intercepted with no injuries being reported. The FBI is currently investigating to find the person or people responsible for sending the packages. Every person who has been targeted by the packages has been on the receiving end of insults from President Donald Trump.
  • The UK FCO now advises against travel to areas in northern BeninThe UK’s FCO are now advising against all travel to the Parc du W as well as Meêkrou and Djona, and against all but essential travel to the area between the Interstate Highway (RNIE) 2 (Tchaourou to Malanville) and the Nigerian border. The change in advice coincides with an increase in militant activity in the area. Attacks in Benin can’t be ruled out. Benin contributes to both the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to combat Boko Haram and the UN peacekeeping initiative in Mali (MINUSMA) and may therefore be considered a legitimate target by terrorist groups in the wider region including IS West Africa (ISWA), Boko Haram and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M).

What To Look Out For Next Week

  • Mob violence increasing due to fake WhatsApp group messages in India – Allegations being spread by the messaging service WhatsApp is resulting in a string of vigilante murders. Parents of victims of the so-called “WhatsApp murders” are increasingly demanding action by the Indian government. At least 27 men have recently been beaten to death by mobs who wrongly accused them of being child snatchers. Women have also been killed after being accused of being witches. Thus far the government has been slow in its response; however, WhatsApp has implemented limited measures, such as limiting the number of people someone can mass forward messages to, in an effort to tackle the growing problem. All of the victims have been local nationals and allegations include either the harming or the snatching of children. Foreigners should exercise caution as vigilante attacks escalate quickly and tend to target those unfamiliar to locals. While foreigners have not been targeted yet, there remains a threat that they could be targeted in further attacks.
  • Polls set to open for the second round of Brazil’s presidential election on 28 October – The second round of Brazil’s presidential election is set to take place on Sunday, 28 October. The runoff pits the controversial far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro against a more moderate left-wing candidate Fernando Haddad. Bolsonaro has been dubbed the “Trump of Brazil” and survived an assassination attempt during his presidential campaign. Haddad replaces long-time, and popular, politician Lula da Silva who has been barred from running due to corruption charges. While Bolsonaro won the first round comfortably, and is favourite for the second round; the vote is close, and tensions remain high. Demonstrations are likely to cause severe travel disruption and clashes between supporters remain a threat. Travellers should consider any movement outside secure accommodation on election day, liaise with local contacts to assess the feasibility of routes.
  • Argentina austerity measures approved by Congress – The Argentine government has approved a new wave of austerity measures after a 14-hour debate by the country’s congress. The measures are widely unpopular in the South American country with protests likely. There has already been unrest in the build-up to the vote by Congress; with protesters clashing with police outside governmental buildings. Riot police were forced to fire rubber bullets and employ tear gas and water cannons in an effort to disperse the demonstrators outside of the Congress building in Buenos Aires. This unrest is likely to continue in the coming days and potentially weeks. The austerity measures were vital for the Argentine government to secure an IMF loan.
  • Continued fallout from Saudi journalist case – Ankara has announced that it has more evidence regarding the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and has called on Saudi officials to reveal who ordered the killing. Additionally, Saudi Arabia’s chief prosecutor is due to visit Istanbul on Sunday, 28 October, as part of the investigation. Investigations by both countries continue and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested.

Significant Dates and Events

Date Country Event Potential for unrest
25-28 Oct Mexico Referendum on new Mexico City Airport  
26 Oct Austria National Day  
26 Oct Ireland Presidential election  
27 Oct St Vincent and Grenadines Independence Day  
27 Oct Turkmenistan Independence Day  
27 Oct Gabon Legislative Election (second round) High Potential for violence
28 Oct Georgia Presidential election  
28 Oct Brazil Presidential election (second round) High potential for violence
28 Oct Czech Rep. Independence Day  
29 Oct Turkey Closure of Ataturk Airport, Istanbul Republic Day  
30 Oct Israel Municipal Elections Low potential for violence
31 Oct Global Halloween  
31 Oct Burkina Faso March planned in Ouagadougou to commemorate 4th anniversary of 2014 popular uprising Moderate potential for violence
31 Oct Mexico Water cuts in Mexico from 31 October to November 3  
1 Nov Antigua and Barbuda Independence Day  
1 Nov Algeria Revolution Day  
1 Nov United Kingdom Bank of England meeting with Inflation report  
3 Nov Dominica Independence Day  
5 Nov United Kingdom Bonfire Night  
6 Nov United States Midterm elections  
7 Nov Madagascar Presidential Election  
7 Nov Global Diwali