Weekly Risk Roundup – Week 46

Headlines From This Week

  • United States: Wildfires ongoing in California as latest death toll hits record numbers – Fifty-six people have been killed and 130 people are unaccounted for in the deadliest wildfire ever recorded in California state. The blaze, which started as a result of a campfire, spread rapidly towards urban centres in northern California fuelled by the critically dry vegetation and strong winds. Over 52,000 people have been evacuated from Paradise, Magalia, Concow, Butte Creek Canyon and Butte Valley and rest centres have been established outside the fire zone. More than 9,000 firefighters have been deployed to help tackle the blaze and thousands in the affected area remain without power. Travellers should avoid all areas affected by the wildfire, especially where mandatory evacuation orders are in place. Liaise with local contacts to determine the feasibility of routes and overland journeys. Follow all directives issued by the authorities.
  • Mozambique: Latest attack highlights continued militant threat in Cabo Delgado – In the early hours of 15 November, militants in Cabo Delgado province attacked Nagalue village, Macomia district killing one person and destroying homes and shops. Residents fled into the surrounding areas upon hearing the attack. Armed groups have been launching small-scale attacks in Cabo Delgado since October 2017, targeting police stations, shops and houses in the province leading to 90 death of mostly civilians. Unlike terror incidents, the armed group are yet to claim responsibility for the attacks or make any demands. While most of the militants are rumoured to be of Muslim faith, there is a limited religious connection to the attacks, suggesting they may be linked to the worsening socio-economic situation in the region. Foreign visitors planning on travel to Cabo Delgado should limit movements to daylight hours only and ensure secure journey management is in place for the duration of their travel.
  • Somalia: Complex attack in capital Mogadishu underscores continued capability of terrorist groups to attack high profile targets – Fifty people were killed and over 100 injured in a complex, multi-target attack in the Hodan district of the capital. Three vehicle-based explosive devices detonated outside three main buildings on the busy KM4 roundabout near the first checkpoint for Mogadishu International Airport (MIA). One of the buildings targeted was the Sahafi Hotel and militants attempted to storm the building after the blasts. Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack which is the first major attack on the capital for several months. Somalia remains a severe risk travel environment and all travel should be supported by an accredited security provider with 24-hour response capability. Accommodation should be booked inside the secure MIA compound.
  • Israel, Palestinian Territories: Ceasefire between Hamas and Israeli Government ends three-day escalation in violence in southern Israel and Hamas controlled Gaza – Tensions between the two groups escalated after Israel launched a military operation in the Gaza strip leading to the first direct ground confrontation between the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and Hamas since Operation Protection Edge in 2014. One Israeli soldier and seven Palestinians were killed in the raid and Israeli air defence was needed to support the evacuation of the IDF unit. In response to the incursion, Hamas launched a rocket that destroyed a military bus and injured a soldier. Israel retaliated by targeting and destroying an alleged munitions storage site, an intelligence base and television station. Hamas subsequently launched 400 missiles at Israel over the next 48 hours and the IDF targeting more than 100 sites in Gaza. The ceasefire, which has brought an end to the current hostilities, has been met with condemnation by the Israeli parliament and the situation should be monitored by all travellers going to southern Israel in the coming months.

What To Look Out For Next Week

  • Bahrain: National assembly elections to be held 24 November, amidst rising tensions between Shia and Sunni communities – In June 2018, legislation approved by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa banned most opposition parties from running in November election. Al-Wefaq, the main opposition party, subsequently called for all Shia aligned political parties to boycott of the elections. On 4 November, Bahrain sentenced three prominent Al-Wefaq politicians to life imprisonment on charges of spying including their secretary general, Sheikh Ali Salman. Tensions between the ruling powers in Bahrain and Shia opposition groups has been evident since 2011, when Shia communities participated in widespread anti-government protests. Since 2011, protests have been held weekly in smaller Shia villages, outside the capital Manama. While the Bahrain government will try and suppress political protests during the election period, travellers should anticipate protests in areas close to Manama. Low-level Shia militant attacks cannot be ruled out and travellers should minimise their time spent near potential targets.
  • Bangladesh: Election date deferred until 30 December, anticipate unrest in coming weeks as political campaigning begins Opposition parties had requested a longer deferral from the Bangladesh Election Committee (BEC), in order to prepare for the upcoming elections. The main opposition group, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), boycotted parliamentary elections in 2014 due to perceived corruption and fraud by the ruling Awami League resulting in 154 of the 300 parliamentary being uncontested. The perceived injustice and lack of free and fair elections led to countrywide protests and widespread violence. The military were subsequently deployed, and curfews were imposed in several neighbourhoods. Fears that the 2018 election would result in a major deterioration of the security environment have been allayed by the involvement of the main opposition groups; however, existing tensions are likely to lead to major unrest in urban centres. On 14 November 32 people were injured when the BNP and security forces clashed in Dhaka as supporters accompanied a BNP candidate to pick up their election nomination papers. Travellers should anticipate an uptick in political demonstrations and rallies in the coming weeks as parties start campaigning. Travellers should further, take all precautions necessary to avoid all such gatherings.
  • Cameroon: Violence to continue in Northwest and Southwest regions – Clashes between the Cameroon military and Anglophone separatists have escalated since the re-election of Paul Biya in October, causing a further deterioration in the security environment. Separatist announced a boycott prior to the 7 October polls, leading to historically low voter turnout, with many residents fearful of repercussions if they tried to vote. Violence has subsequently escalated since Paul Biya’s re-election was announced, with clashes between the military and insurgents being reported daily and schools and government-run institutions being targeted by insurgents. The separatist movement gathered pace last year when the Cameroon military forcefully repressed peaceful protests calling for the declaration of an independent Anglophone state. In response the Cameroon military used forceful measures to end the unrest, killing protesters and arresting the main leaders of the separatist movement. Over the last 12 months, the situation has escalated dramatically with over 300 separate security incidents being reported since January. With no current dialogue between the insurgents and the government, the crisis, and increasing insecurity, will likely continue in the medium to long-term. The Northwest region remains under curfew and road travel is only possible between 06.00 and 18.00 (local time). Travel to the region should be for essential purposed only and supported by an accredited security with 24-hour response capability.

Significant Dates and Events

Date Country Event Potential for violence
18 Nov Guinea Bissau Legislative elections POSTPONED
18 Nov Latvia Independence Day Insignificant
18 Nov Morocco Independence Day Insignificant
18 Nov Oman National Day (2-day holiday) Insignificant
21, 23 Nov Thailand Lantern Festival (disruption at Chang Mai, reconfirm flights) Insignificant
22 Nov Lebanon Independence Day Low
24 Nov Bahrain Parliamentary elections Moderate
24 Nov Australia State elections Insignificant
25 Nov Mali Legislative elections High
25 Nov Bosnia Republic Day Low
25 Nov Suriname Independence Day Low
28 Nov Albania Independence Day Low
28 Nov Mauritania Independence Day Low
Nov (exp) Chad Legislative elections (date not announced) High
1 Dec Central African Rep. National Day Moderate
2 Dec Laos National Day Low
2 Dec UAE National Day – Formation of the federation of the seven emirates Insignificant
3 Dec Poland Start of the COP24 environmental summit in Katowice, Insignificant
Click the following link to download this report as a PDF: Weekly Risk Roundup – Week 46 The Weekly Risk Roundup highlights significant events from the last week and what to look out for next week. The Weekly Risk Roundup was compiled by Solace Global’s in-house intelligence team.