EUROPE: Belgium, Croatia, France; Netherlands (LOW) – Yellow vest protests likely to persist in coming weeks. The Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vest) protests that began in France over planned tax hikes on fuel, continue to spread and cause disruption throughout major European cities. After weeks of disruptive protests in France, President Emmanuel Macron conceded, ending the proposed eco-tax on fuel and introducing economic reform that will increase the minimum wage and reduce tax for most pensioners. Despite these concessions, the Gilets Jaunes movement continues to call for further anti-government demonstrations and the movement has been a catalyst for other anti-government protests in Europe. Major cities in Belgium and the Netherlands saw mass anti-government protests over the last week – attended by participants wearing yellow vests. Unlike in France, these protests are not in response to a specific event but appear to part of a wider movement that remains increasingly angry with the growing divide between the political and working classes. Protests are likely to continue in multiple countries in the coming weeks causing significant disruption. Police have used tear gas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators in key areas and made hundreds of arrests, detaining those who are found to be in possession of items that could be used as weapons. Please see our latest Travel Advisory for more information. ADVICE: Reconfirm the status of routes prior to setting out and ensure that you factor in additional time to complete your journeys. Plan routes avoiding key protest locations to minimise disruption. There have been numerous clashes between protesters and security forces, if you are caught near a protest, leave the area immediately, return to a safe location and follow the direction of the local authorities. DRC: Kinshasa; urban centres (Country: HIGH; Civil Unrest: SEVERE) – Tensions rise ahead of impending elections. Anticipate unrest; associated clashes.  Defer non-critical travel till January. Tensions throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have escalated ahead of the 23 December election as political demonstrations are increasingly descending into violent confrontations between political supporters and security forces. On 11 December, a political convoy driving through the streets in organised in support of Martin Fayulu led to clashes between security forces and protesters in Lubumbashi (Haut-Katanga province) resulting in one fatality and 40 injuries when police opened fire on protesters. Further violence occurred when supporters of Felix Tshisekedi, another of the main opposition candidates, arrived at the airport in Mbuji-Mayi (Kasai-Oriental province) on 13 December leading to one fatality. Tshisekedi had earlier held rallies in Beni (North Kivu province) and Bunia (Ituri province), the epicentre of the recent Ebola outbreak, leading to widespread unrest and associated violence in both towns. In the capital Kinshasa, a fire broke out on 13 December at a building registered to the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), destroying 8,000 electronic voting machines, roughly two-third of the number required for voting in Kinshasa. The use of electronic voting machines has been condemned by several opposition parties expressing concerns that they will be rigged. The fire has reignited a debate over their use heightening the already tense atmosphere in the capital. After delaying the polls for two years, Joseph Kabila will step down from the presidency after 17 years in power creating significant uncertainty throughout the country. The election remains a flashpoint for a further deterioration in the security environment with the results likely to be challenged.  See our latest Travel Advisory for more information. ADVICE: Defer all travel to the DRC till 1 January. For those already in country, minimise movements in major urban centres between 22 – 24 December and stay up to date with planned political demonstrations in your area. If you are in country, ensure that you are in, secure, compound-based accommodation over the election period.  Monitor Global Solace alerts for further details. AUSTRALIA: Queensland; Northern Territories (Country: LOW; Environmental: MODERATE) – Disruption likely following passage of category 4 Cyclone Owen. Plan journeys accordingly. Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning in coastal regions of Queensland and the Northern Territories following Cyclone Owen making landfall on 13 December. Heavy rain and windspeeds of up to 200 km/h (124 mph) are expected as the cyclone moves down the coast and could prompt flooding and storm surges in low-lying areas. The intensity of the storm is expected to dissipate as it moves inland late on 12 December however travel disruption should be expected. The intensity and trajectories of storms can change with little notice and travellers should stay up to date with local media and Solace Global Alerts. ADVICE: Disruption is expected in Queensland; Northern Territories in the coming days. Roads may become flooded and impassable and flights could be delayed or cancelled. Travellers due to fly to or from Queensland or the Northern Territories should speak with their airline to reconfirm itineraries.  If conducting road travel in the coming days, ensure the status of routes prior to setting out and ensure your vehicle is in good condition and appropriately equipped for the weather conditions. COSTA RICA: San José (Country: LOW; Environmental: MODERATE) Further flight delays; cancellations from Juan Santamaría International Airport possible following eruption of Turrialba Volcano. Increased activity at the Turrialba Volcano on 12 December has caused several delays to flights from Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) over the last 48 hours and further delays and cancellations are likely. The volcano situated 35 km (25 mi) from the capital, San José, is currently spewing a column of ash 500 – 800 meters above the crater (4000 – 5000 meters above sea level) which has been propagated by strong winds in the last 24 hours. Poor air quality is being reported in parts of the city posing additional health risks to travellers in the San José. The decision to delay or suspend flights due to volcanic ash remains at the discretion of airlines however, airlines will generally remain on the side of caution, not risking departing in high concentrations of ash. ADVICE: Travellers due to fly from Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) should speak to their airline prior to travel to the airport to reconfirm itinerates.  In the event of cancellations, your travel provider will be able to support with additional arrangements. UKRAINE: Kiev (MODERATE) – Anticipate disruption during anti-Russia protests on 17 December Ukraine’s minister for Veterans announced that a demonstration will take place in Independence Square in central Kiev on December 17 in support of the sailors who have been detained in Russia since 25 November.  The rally, which is due to take place at 19.00, is expected to be attended by thousands of citizens, veterans as well as several high-profile politicians. Tensions remain elevated between Russia and Ukraine since Russia boarded three Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait and detained 24 crewmen. Please see our recent Travel Advisory for more information. ADVICE: Heightened security measures and significant traffic disruption is expected in the vicinity of the rally. The rally is expected to transpire   peacefully; however, travellers should plan routes avoiding Independence Square.

GLOBAL HEADLINES: 7 – 14 December 2018

  FRANCE: Strasbourg (LOW) – Police shoot and kill gunman who attacked Christmas Market on 11 Dec in suspected terror attack. Late on 13 December, French Police shot and killed the individual accused of committing the Strasbourg Christmas Market on 11 December.  Three people died following the suspected terror attack two days earlier when the 29-year-old French national of Moroccan descent indiscriminately opened fire on passers-by near Place Kleber in central Strasbourg.  The assailant was shot by responding security forces but managed to flee in a Taxi towards the Neudorf suburb of Strasbourg.  There were fears that he had managed to cross the border into Germany however at 21.00 on 13 December, three police officers spotted a male matching the suspect’s description in the Neudorf area.  When they approached the man to stop him, the suspect opened fire.  The police responded by firing back, killing the attacker.  The Strasbourg Christmas Market has subsequently will reopen from tonight. The attack at Strasbourg Christmas Market has prompted fears that terrorist will seek to target major tourist attractions in Europe over the festive period.  The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have subsequently updated their travel website notifying all British citizens to remain vigilant over the Christmas and New Year period.   The attack in Strasbourg highlights the continued intent for terror groups to inspire lone wolf attacks that spark media attention. Please read our latest Travel Advisory for more information on the Strasbourg attack. ADVICE: Travellers should exercise enhanced vigilance if travelling in Europe throughout the Christmas period and report any suspicious behaviour or packages to the local authorities.  Security in Strasbourg is likely to remain high in the coming days and could lead to potential disruption. RWANDA: Rubavu district (MODERATE) – Militants attack village in cross border raid.  Travellers advised to exercise caution in border regions. A spokesperson for Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) has reported that the Rwandan soldiers engaged in a firefight on 9 December with militants suspected of being part of the Congolese group Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). The militants are believed to have crossed the border from Gome (North Kivu Province) in the DRC before assaulting the village of Cyamabuye. The RDF responded quickly to the incident repelling the attack and killing four militants.  One civilian was also injured in the attack. Cross-border attacks by militant groups have become increasingly rare in Rwanda, stabilising the security environment in border areas with the DRC. While it remains too early to tell whether there will be an upsurge of such attacks, travellers should carefully monitor developments.  The last such cross-border FDLR attack was reported to be in 2016, resulting in the death of numerous civilians.  The impact of cross-border attacks is further exacerbated by the escalating Ebola crisis in the neighbouring North Kivu and Ituri provinces, heightening the risk that cross-border militants could also carry the spread of the virus. ADVICE: Travel to Rwanda’s western border can continue however, travellers should consult local media, in country contacts and Solace Global Alerts for details of further attacks from DRC rebels on Rwandan territory.  Given the current complexity surrounding transmission control relating to the Ebola outbreak, travellers should follow international advice on transmission control and minimise time spent in rural areas. TOGO: Lomé; urban centres (Country: MODERATE; Civil Unrest: HIGH) – Multiple fatalities reported as anti-government protests persist Political parties opposed to the upcoming constitutional referendum on 16 December are continuing to call for civil demonstrations up until the 18 December.  Large-scale protests have already taken place in the capital Lomé and other urban centres over the referendum that will seek to re-introduce presidential term limits, but retroactively allow current President, Faure Gnassingbé, to contest a further two terms.  Opposition parties are requesting that Gnassingbé, who has ruled since his father’s death in 2005, be limited to his already served terms in office. The Togo government banned all opposition protests in the build-up to the referendum, however, this has not stemmed the protests with tens of thousands of civilians taking to streets in Lomé on 8 December and thousands demonstration in Sokode the second biggest city, on 10 December.  Security forces have responded aggressively to the protests.  Local media have reported that they have used live ammunition and tear gas in an attempt to disperse protesters.  Six civilian fatalities have been reported so far.  Please read our latest Travel Advisory for more information on the recent unrest in Togo. ADVICE: Opposition groups are likely to defy the government order and continue with planned protests in major urban centres leading to widespread clashes with security forces. Consult local media, in-country contacts and Solace Global Alerts for details of any planned or ongoing demonstrations in your area and avoid all protests.  Minimise movement outside safe accommodation on 16 and 20 December.


Date Country Event Potential for Violence
16 Dec Bahrain National Day LOW
16 Dec Kazakhstan Independence Day LOW
16 Dec Togo Local elections, referendum on constitutional and electoral reform MODERATE
17 Dec Bhutan National Day NEGLIGIBLE
18 Dec Qatar National Day NEGLIGIBLE
19 Dec Madagascar Second round of presidential vote HIGH
20 Dec Togo Legislative elections HIGH
22 Dec Iraq Provincial elections HIGH
23 Dec DRC Presidential, legislative, regional and local elections SEVERE
30 Dec Bangladesh Parliamentary elections HIGH
31 Dec Guinea-Bissau Legislative elections MODERATE
TBC Jan Guinea Legislative elections MODERATE

Click the following link to download this report as a PDF: Global Security Forecast – Week 50 The Global Security Forecast highlights what travel security managers should look out for over the next week while also providing advice following significant events from the last week. The Global Security Forecast was compiled by Solace Global’s in-house intelligence team.