Global Security Forecast • Week 4 • 26 – 31 JANUARY

VENEZUELA: Countrywide – Anti-government protests to continue following international support l Risk Rating Change l HIGH to SEVERE l Defer All Travel As part of Solace Global country risk review system, the risk rating for Venezuela has changed from HIGH to SEVERE.   We are advising travellers to DEFER ALL TRAVEL at the current time and for those currently in Venezuela – they should prepare to leave via commercial airline in the coming days.  We regularly review countries alongside our risk matrix and consider potential threats alongside the traveller’s capability to mitigate such threats.  The recent deterioration in the security environment following the outbreak of countrywide protests alongside the long-term degradation of basic government functions, such as healthcare and policing, has left the travellers increasingly exposed to risks. Further complications arise following the decision by several international governments to recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim leader of the country.  This has already provoked a response from the de jure President, Nicolas Maduro, who has broken off diplomatic ties with the US and ordered their diplomats to leave within 72 hours.   The military leadership in Venezuela continue to back Maduro, strengthening his position while also leaving foreign travellers, especially from those countries that have recently come out condemning the Maduro government, increasingly vulnerable to targeted threats while in-country.  Please see our recent Travel Advisory for further details. ADVICE: Defer all travel to Venezuela at the current time.  If you have travellers in-country – start making arrangements for their outbound travel and maintain regular communication until they have left the country. DRC: Kinshasa; urban centres – Tensions remain elevated following inauguration of President Tshisekedi.  Minimise movement near protest flashpoints. Felix Tshisekedi was inaugurated as the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on 24 January which marks the first peaceful transition of power in the DRC for 60 years.  Tensions throughout the country remain elevated throughout the country as opposition candidate Fayulu and the Catholic Church continue to call into question the legitimacy of the results.  On 20 January, Congo’s Constitutional Court confirmed Felix Tshisekedi’s presidential election win following a challenge by his main challenger Martin Fayulu who rejected the vote tally by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI). The CENI announced provisional results contradict data compiled by the 40,000 election observers operating under the Catholic Church which indicates that the declared runner up, Martin Fayulu, won as much as 61% of the vote.  While the post-election security environment has remained reasonably calm – tensions are expected to become elevated the longer investigations go on.    For more information please see our latest Travel Advisory. ADVICE: Travellers currently in the DRC should continue to minimise movement near potential protest flashpoints in major urban centres and stay up to date with planned political demonstrations in your area. Flashpoints include the Constitutional Court and Independent National Electoral Commission in Kinshasa and government buildings in other major cities. If you are in-country, ensure that you have access to, secure, compound-based accommodation and a clear escalation plan if the event security situation deteriorates.  Monitor Solace Global alerts for further details. FRANCE: Paris; urban centres – Anticipate disruption during ‘Gilets Jaunes’ (Yellow Vest) protests on 26 January; counter-protest scheduled for 27 January Countrywide anti-government demonstrations are expected to take place on 26 January as part of the ongoing Yellow Vest movement (Gilets Jaunes).  Scheduled protests have been occurring weekly since 17 November and approximately 84,000 people participated in anti-government rallies on 19 January.  Protests have caused significant disruption in key urban centres, including in the capital Paris, as demonstrators have attempted to block motorways and petrol stations leading to severe traffic delays.  French police have attempted to minimise the impact on major road routes, especially the A1 and A3 highways that connect Paris to Charles de Gaulle Airport.   French authorities have been known to employ forceful measures to disperse protesters including the use of tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons. 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 minor physical altercations between motorists and protesters, if you are caught in traffic caused by protests, remain in your car and follow the direction of the local authorities. SUDAN: Khartoum; urban centres – Anti-government protests continue l Defer non-critical travel in coming weeks Violent anti-government demonstrations have continued into their sixth week amidst growing calls for Omar al-Bashir to step down as President of Sudan. At least 29 people have been killed since protests began on 19 December over the worsening economic situation that has plagued the country since economic reforms were introduced in January 2018.   Protests have occurred daily in major urban centres, including the capital Khartoum and Port Sudan leading to clashes with security forces. Reports suggest that both the military has used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse protesters. A campaign of arrests by the government has tried to target key leaders in the movement including opposition politicians, students, local journalists and civic leaders.  Several foreign journalists have had their work permits revoked and have been asked to leave the country while at least five Sudanese journalists working for foreign media agencies have been detained. For more information please see our latest Travel Advisory. ADVICE: Non-critical travel to Sudan should be deferred until the situation stabilises.  For those in-country, minimise movements in major urban centres in the coming weeks and stay up to date with planned political demonstrations in your area. If you are in-country, ensure that you have access to, secure, compound-based accommodation and a clear escalation plan if the event security situation deteriorates.  Monitor Solace Global alerts for further details.

Global Headlines • 12 – 18 January

LIBYA: Tripoli – Tentative ceasefire holding following clashes between rival militias. Liaise with security provider regarding ground movements. A tentative ceasefire that was implemented after more than a week of fighting between Tripoli-based and Tarhuna-based militias in the capital Tripoli.  At least 16 people were killed and 65 injured following eight days of fighting between militia groups in the south of the city that began on 15 January. Fighting occurred near to the Tripoli International Airport (TIP) after the Government of National Accord (GNA) sought to requisition the airport to begin restoration work. Tensions have remained elevated between regionally based militias since September when a ceasefire ended a month of fighting that killed 100 people.  The influential 7th Infantry Kani Brigade, who are based in Tarhuna, moved on Tripoli following reports that militias based in the capital have been using their presence to exert greater control on politicians and businesses.  Tripoli remains the financial hub of Libya and of central importance to competing factions. Tarhuna based militias have accused the main Tripoli-based militias of exploiting their position to illicit bribes and engage in political corruption. While the ceasefire is expected to hold for the time being following the 7th Infantry Kani Brigade move back to its base in Tarhuna, parliamentary elections are due to take place in early 2019 and could present a further flashpoint for the escalation of fighting between competing militias in western Libya. With Tripoli gaining in strategic and political importance, the leadership of militias based outside the city are growing anxious that Tripoli-based militias are monopolising on major income streams related to the oil industry. ADVICE: While business critical travel to Tripoli remains possible, it remains essential that all logistics are supported by an approved in-country security provider who can support with flexible travel arrangements and client-specific security support.  All travellers should receive a comprehensive briefing on the main security risks prior to travel. SYRIA: Damascus – Detonation of car bomb near Russia Embassy injures four on 24 Jan.  Continue to defer all travel to Syria. A car bomb was detonated near the Russian Embassy in Damascus injuring four people on 24 January in the third such explosion to occur in government held areas of Syria in less than a week.   The blast occurred near the Old City district in an area that is currently housing several foreign embassies that have relocated to the city since the last rebel movement was expelled from Eastern Ghouta in February 2018. A car bomb was also detonated in the coastal city Latakia on 22 January killing one and injuring 14 and an explosion occurred in the southern suburbs of Damascus on 20 January. While the Assad government forces have retaken most of the major urban centres throughout Syria in recent months, many civilians living in these cities are opposed to Assad’s rule.  Further attacks are likely in Damascus in the coming months.  The Syrian war has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, displaced almost 50 percent of the population and reignited sectarian divides throughout the country.  Governance structures remain severely depleted and anger amongst the local populations has grown as the government have failed to deliver basic civil services. ADVICE: Continue to defer all travel to Syria at the current time.  While some diplomatic representation is reopening in Damascus and the security situation has steadily improved, the preoccupation of security forces with ongoing conflict operations means security is still not adequate for travel.  Both crime and unrest are likely to increase in the coming year with security forces responding aggressively to anti-government demonstrations.  International sanctions continued to make it increasingly difficult for businesses to operate in the country. KENYA; Garissa country – Four injured when militants launch an attack on site run by Chinese construction company. Armed militants suspected of being part of the Al Qaeda linked Al Shabaab group stormed a Chinese-owned construction company in Garissa county on 20 January injuring four people before they were repelled by Kenyan security forces.  The attack occurred close to the Somali border and Kenyan intelligence believe the militant group had crossed the border earlier in the day.  Al Shabaab have shown both the desire and capability to launch regular incursions along the porous Kenyan border as well as in coastal areas in the east of the city.  The attack also comes just days after 21 people were killed in the siege of the Dusit D2 hotel in Nairobi which was subsequently claimed by Al Shabaab.  Further attacks in Kenya remain likely in the coming months. ADVICE: Travel to Kenya’s border regions requires comprehensive security support due to the threat posed by Islamic militants.  Travel to Nairobi and other urban centres can continue but travellers should anticipate a heightened police and military presence throughout the city; especially around other major international hotels, shopping malls, government buildings and other areas of interest. Additionally, all travellers should exercise vigilance and follow all official directives issued by security forces.  The country remains on high alert in the coming weeks – potentially leading to disruption in certain central locations.

Significant Dates and Events

Date Country Event Potential for Violence
TBC Jan Guinea Legislative elections MODERATE
1 Feb Senegal Presidential elections MODERATE
3 Feb El Salvador Presidential elections HIGH
16 Feb Nigeria Presidential and Legislative elections HIGH
24 Feb Cuba Referendum LOW
24 Feb Moldova Legislative elections MODERATE
TBC Feb Thailand Legislative elections MODERATE

Click the following link to download this report as a PDF:  Global Security Forecast – Week 4 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.