Travel

Control Risks

You can contact the following Alarm Centres:

Americas: (1) (215) 942 8226
Asia & the Pacific: (65) 6338 7800
Europe & Africa: (44) (20) 8762 8008
Paris, France: (33) 155 633 155

Adviced provided in these alerts represents the best judgment of AEA International Holdings Pte. Ltd. and Control Risks Group Holdings Ltd. Adice in these alerts does not however provide a warranty of future results nor a guarantee against risk.

2011 AEA International Holdings Pte. Ltd. and Control Risks Groups Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved. Reproduction (other than for authorised internal purposes) is prohibited except with the prior written consent of the copyright owners.

Travel Alerts

 

31 Aug 2014

Special Advisory – Pakistan: Minimise non-essential movement throughout Punjab, Sindh provinces amid violent opposition protests

Clashes are continuing early on 31 August between supporters of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) parties and the police in the government ‘Red Zone’ area of the capital Islamabad. Violence broke out after thousands of protesters attempted to remove security barricades in front of the prime minister’s house, to which the police responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Protesters have also breached security barricades outside the National Assembly building. More than 300 people have been injured so far, and at least five people killed.

Access from Islamabad and Rawalpindi (Punjab province) to Benazir Bhutto International Airport (ISB) is viable, though difficult. Margalla Road is closed near the Red Zone in Sector F-6, while IJP Road, Faisabad Interchange and Khanna Pul Interchange are blocked.

In Lahore (Punjab), the police fired tear gas to disperse PTI activists who had blocked Ghazi Road and Liberty Chowk late on 30 August, and have since blocked access to all government buildings in the city. The PTI has called for protesters to march to the prime minister’s house, on Raiwind Road on the south-western outskirts of Lahore; the road has been blocked.

Reports are also emerging of protests in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur (all Sindh province), and Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Sialkot (all Punjab). PTI protesters have blocked the Hyderabad-Karachi Super Highway and called for supporters to block Shahr-e Faisal Road between Jinnah International Airport (KHI) and central Karachi. The PTI has also called for a nationwide strike on 31 August, which has been supported by the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) party, whose stronghold is in Karachi.

Travel Briefing

The situation is unpredictable and further violence and large protests are expected on 31 August throughout Sindh and Punjab provinces. Members should minimise non-essential movement in Punjab and Sindh provinces, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi, until the situation stabilises. Travel between urban centres in these provinces, as well as to and from airports, will be difficult due to security restrictions as well as protests and associated roadblocks.

Within Islamabad, the vicinity of the Red Zone (Sectors F-5 and G-5) should be strictly avoided. A large contingent of soldiers is stationed outside state buildings in this area, though the security response is currently being led by the police, not military personnel. The risk of army intervention – both physically and politically – will increase if protests continue to grow in scale and intensity around the country.

There have been no reports of protests in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or Balochistan provinces so far, though members in these areas should not be complacent; the situation is fast-moving and heightened awareness is required.

Background

The PAT and PTI parties staged a ‘long march’ on 14-15 August from Lahore to Islamabad, where they have remained since; both are calling for the prime minister’s resignation. PAT leader Tahirul Qadri is also calling for the resignation of the prime minister’s brother Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab, over clashes between PAT supporters and the police in Lahore in June in which 11 people were killed. Khan is demanding a judicial enquiry into the 2013 elections, which he claims were fraudulent, and fresh polls.

Travel Advice Summary

For travellers or expatriate residents

  • Defer non-essential travel to Islamabad until the situation stabilises. Members already in the city should minimise non-essential movement and strictly avoid the government Red Zone.
  • Non-essential movement should also be minimised throughout Punjab and Sindh provinces, including Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi, on 31 August.
  • In the event of encountering protesters, relocate to a secure location and stand fast. Once safe, establish communications and alert your organisation following established protocols.
  • Allow additional time for transit to and from Islamabad and Karachi airports; a robust journey management plan, including contingency plans in the event that the primary route is blocked, is essential.
  • Members with appointments at diplomatic missions in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi should reschedule these due to likely access restrictions and reduced consular services.

For managers

  • Those with local offices in Punjab and Sindh should review business continuity plans and consider allowing staff to work from home while the protests are ongoing.
  • Ensure that staff observe appropriate journey management protocols.
  • Confirm and test means to locate and communicate with staff, and refresh plans to enforce working from home or a stand fast in the event of a deterioration in the security situation.

 

31 Aug 2014

Special Advisory – Somalia: Mogadishu: Fatal militant attack on intelligence facility in Bondhere district underlines EXTREME travel risks (Revised 15.45 GMT)

At least 11 people, including three soldiers, were killed on 31 August when members of the Islamist extremist group al-Shabab assaulted an intelligence facility – which also houses a prison – in the Bondhere district of the capital Mogadishu. The assailants, who were allegedly attempting to free detained militants, detonated a suicide car bomb at the entrance to the facility before engaging in a gun battle with the security forces in which all the attackers were killed. The incident underlines the overall EXTREME risks associated with travel to the country due to persistent militancy.

Travel Briefing

Such violence is not uncommon in the capital; 12 people were killed on 8 July when gunmen detained a car bomb and stormed Villa Somalia (presidential palace). The al-Shabab group claimed responsibility for the attack, which followed a previous car bombing by the group outside the nearby parliament in Mogadishu on 5 July, in which four people were killed. Such developments serve as a reminder that travel to Mogadishu should be for essential purposes only and limited to the secure airport area.

Similar security incidents are likely to persist in the coming months, with government and security force personnel and assets remaining the primary targets, though attacks have previously also occurred at sites where foreigners gather, thereby posing significant direct and indirect risks to travellers. In the event of an attack, members should liaise with their security provider regarding the incident and feasibility of movement. Long-range and indirect-fire weapons can also target well-protected areas of Mogadishu. Travellers staying in accommodation outside the airport areas should review their security arrangements with their security provider.

Travel Advice Summary

  • Travel to Mogadishu should be for essential purposes only and limited to the secure airport area.
  • Movement outside the airport perimeter requires a specific pre-travel threat assessment and a comprehensive and fully co-ordinated security programme, using providers with good local knowledge and solid response capabilities. The use of an expatriate security co-ordinator is recommended; independent travel is inadvisable.
  • Further attacks are possible in the short term. Travellers staying in accommodation outside the airport areas should review their security arrangements with their security provider to ensure availability of means of communication, and security escorts with quick response capabilities.
  • In the event of an attack, liaise with your security provider regarding the incident and feasibility of movement.
  • This advice is not exhaustive. For additional advice on travel to Somalia, consult our Standing Travel Advice.

 

30 Aug 2014

Special Advisory – Lesotho: Defer non-essential travel following apparent military coup, seizure of government buildings (Revised 10.24 GMT)

Members should defer non-essential travel to the country following reports on 30 August that the military has seized several government buildings in the capital Maseru, including the State House and the police headquarters, in an apparent coup attempt. Unconfirmed reports indicate that gunfire was heard from around 04.00 (local time) in a number of areas in the city.

Local sources indicate that the situation on the streets is generally calm, though there is an increased military presence around the government quarter and radio and communications networks had previously been jammed.

Travel Briefing

There is potential for a deterioration in security in the coming hours and days. Rivalries between political leaders and prominent figures in the police and military could lead to localised clashes around key infrastructure in the near term as rival factions jostle for control. This could be accompanied by curfews, movement restrictions and the closure of key transport hubs or border crossings to South Africa. Additionally, political uncertainty may manifest in outbreaks of localised unrest and/or some instances of targeted political violence, though we consider the latter highly unlikely to affect business travellers.

Outlook

Security concerns will be highest in Maseru, where public support for Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is greatest, and it is unlikely that there will be any major incidents in areas outside the capital. Nevertheless, a sudden change in the security environment should not be ruled out; a disputed election in 1998 led to riots across the country during which at least 66 people were killed. During that political crisis South Africa deployed peacekeepers in an effort to secure strategic water resources, a scenario that cannot be discounted if the current crisis escalates.

Background

Lesotho has a history of political turbulence, having experienced at least three successful coups since 1986. The peaceful formation of a coalition government following tightly contested elections in June 2012 was a positive development. However the alliance suffered from inter-party rivalries and criticism of Prime Minister Thabane’s authoritarian tendencies. The fragility of the coalition was laid bare when Thabane in June suspended the National Assembly in a bid to avoid a vote of no confidence orchestrated by coalition partners.

Travel Advice Summary

International travellers

  • Defer non-essential travel to Lesotho as a precaution due to the potential for a deterioration in the travel security environment in the near term.

Members in Maseru

  • Minimise movement and remain in secure accommodation until the situation stabilises. Contact your management as per pre-established procedures. Identify and avoid areas vulnerable to violence, including key government buildings, public broadcasting offices, military and police barracks, and low-income areas more generally.
  • Precedent indicates that operations at airports and borders can be suspended without notice following an unconstitutional takeover of power. Do not attempt to travel to airports – including Moshoeshoe I International Airport (MSU) – and land border crossings without confirming that they are in operation, routes are open and that it is safe to travel. Print a copy of your ticket to facilitate access to the airport.
  • Avoid unnecessary interactions with members of the security forces. Do not cross military or police cordons without the express permission of the authorities and treat members of the security forces you encounter with patience and respect. Carry photographic identification to facilitate ease of passage through checkpoints.
  • It is possible that the authorities may implement curfews in the coming hours and days; keep abreast of curfew hours and factor them into itineraries.

 

30 Aug 2014

Special Advisory – Afghanistan: Jalalabad: Minimise movement due to militant attack on security building in Joi Haft area (Revised 04.39 GMT)

At least six people on 30 August were killed and more than 40 others injured in a militant attack at around 05.00 (local time) on the National Directorate of Security building in the Joi Haft area of Jalalabad (Nangarhar province). The attack commenced with a suicide car bombing, following which an unspecified number of militants engaged in a gunfight with the security forces; it is unclear whether the fighting has ended. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which serves as a reminder that the security risks in Nangarhar are among the most acute in the country.

Travel Briefing

Increased security can be expected in Jalalabad, particularly in Joi Haft, as the security forces attempt to contain the situation. Members should avoid the vicinity of the affected area and minimise movement until the situation stabilises. The country’s strongest anti-government elements as well as foreign militants, particularly Pakistanis, maintain a significant presence in Nangarhar. The mountainous terrain, sparse police presence, and the fact that the province is situated on major transit route between Pakistan and the capital Kabul means that the area is susceptible to high levels of insurgent activity.

Most of the violence occurs within the province’s southern and eastern districts of Dur Baba, Lal Pur, Goshta, Achin, Nazyan, Khogyani, Pachir Aw Agam and Dih Bala, which border Pakistan. However, the large security force presence and number of government buildings in the provincial capital Jalalabad renders it vulnerable to attacks, particularly against high-profile targets. The Jalalabad-Kabul road is also particularly susceptible to security incidents, due to the high level of international military traffic along the route. Members on essential travel to the country should seek professional security support and ensure they are fully briefed on the prevailing threats prior to deployment.

Travel Advice Summary

  • Avoid the vicinity of the attack and minimise movement in Jalalabad until the situation stabilises.
  • Liaise with your security provider regarding the incident and feasibility of movement.
  • Increased spot-checks are likely even after the attack concludes. Allow additional travel time and carry relevant personal identification to ease movement through checkpoints.
  • Monitor our travel security alerts on Afghanistan for further updates.

 

29 Aug 2014

Iceland: Authorities reduce alert level for Bardarbunga volcano; reconfirm itineraries with airlinesThe Icelandic meteorological office on 29 August lowered the aviation alert level for the Bardarbunga volcano to orange, the second-highest in a four-tier rating, after raising it to red earlier in the day in response to reports of a fissure eruption north of the Dynjujökull glacier. The airspace around the volcano has been reopened to traffic below 5,000 feet (1,524 metres) in a radius of ten nautical miles (18.5km).

No emissions of volcanic ash have yet been reported. However, a three-nautical-mile (5.5km) radius and restricted flight area above 5,000 feet around the volcano remain in place as a precaution. Constant fluctuations in seismic activity at the volcano means that short-notice flight restrictions and cancellations may affect aircraft using Iceland’s airspace.

Travel Advice

  • Monitor our travel security alerts on Iceland for related updates.
  • In the event of an eruption in the coming days, maintain flexible travel plans and be prepared for air travel disruption to last for several days.

 

29 Aug 2014

Iceland: Flight disruption possible as authorities raise alert level for Bardarbunga volcano; reconfirm itineraries with airlinesThe Icelandic meteorological office on 29 August raised the alert level for the Bardarbunga volcano to red, the highest in a four-tier rating, following reports of a fissure eruption north of the Dynjujökull glacier just after midnight (local time). The airspace around the volcano has been closed up to 18,000 feet (5,486 metres). While no emissions of volcanic ash have yet been detected, the current level of seismic activity at the volcano and precedents show that flight restrictions and cancellations are possible at short notice for aircraft using Iceland’s airspace.Travel Advice

  • We do not hold information on specific flights. Members should reconfirm the status of their flight with the relevant airline or airport.
  • Maintain flexible travel plans and consider alternative options for travel around Europe by road and rail.
  • Be prepared for disruption to air travel lasting for several days.
  • Monitor our Iceland security alerts for related updates.

 

24 Aug 2014

Iceland: Alert level lowered for Bardarbunga volcano; continue to monitor developmentsThe Icelandic meteorological office on 24 August lowered the alert level for the Bardarbunga volcano to Orange, the second-highest in a four-scale rating, after it concluded there were no signs an eruption was imminent. On the previous day the alert was raised to Red, the highest level, after the erroneous announcement of an eruption under the Dyngjujökull glacier.The current level of seismic activity at the volcano means flight disruption in Iceland’s airspace may still occur at short notice if an eruption and associated ash emission occurred.

Travel Advice

  • Monitor our travel security alerts on Iceland for related updates.
  • In the event of an eruption in the coming days, maintain flexible travel plans and be prepared for air travel disruption to last for several days.

 

22 Aug 2014

Guinea: EVACUATE: NON-ESSENTIAL STAFF: Evacuation level raised due to Ebola-related travel bans, possible further reduction of evacuation options

We have increased our evacuation level from Stand-by to EVACUATE: NON-ESSENTIAL STAFF as South Africa and Senegal on 21 August announced that they would deny entry to travellers coming from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia due to the ongoing Ebola virus epidemic.Travel BriefingOur decision to raise the evacuation level is not driven by a deterioration of the security or medical situation in the country. It is a precautionary measure that reflects a further and significant reduction, over the past 24 hours, of options for air travel from Guinea. The Senegal ban in particular – which comes after Senegal Airlines on 19 August stopped serving Guinea, further reducing commercial flight availability out of the country – removes a key regional option for both medically- and security-driven charter evacuations.A raft of travel bans affecting Ebola-hit countries announced over the past 48 hours confirms increasing sensitivity to the outbreak worldwide and suggests that further travel restrictions could be announced in the coming days, thereby placing further limitations on evacuation options. Managers should assess these new logistical limitations, as well as the associated health and access-to-care risks related to the Ebola outbreak, in relation to their staff.

We advise the evacuation of non-essential staff using commercial airlines, wherever possible. Monitor the situation closely and maintain regular contact with external support providers (including International SOS) to track the availability of assets and the feasibility of movement plans. If further constraints on commercial and charter air movement are identified, we would be likely to increase our evacuation level to EVACUATE: ALL STAFF. Similarly, increased levels of unrest and/or animosity towards foreign personnel linked to the social, economic or human consequences of the Ebola outbreak would constitute another trigger for such a move.

Travel Advice Summary

International travellers

  • Defer non-essential travel to Guinea.
  • Do not travel if you are sick. Illnesses, including potentially life-threatening conditions, cannot be managed adequately. Less serious illnesses may become life-threatening. International evacuation for medical reasons is highly challenging and may not be achievable.
  • Contact International SOS for advice before travelling.
  • If undertaking essential travel, monitor the situation closely. Note that screening is being carried out at border control and other checkpoints. Allow additional time during arrival and departure to pass through medical screening.
  • Persons with fever or other Ebola-like symptoms may be taken to designated centres or have entry/exit denied.
  • Carry a first-aid kit.

In-country staff

  • Avoid high-risk activities, such as contact with ill people. For further detail, visit www.internationalsos.com/ebola.
  • Avoid facilities treating Ebola cases.
  • Liaise with local contacts and monitor local media to keep abreast of quarantine measures and restrictions to internal movement. Treat the local security forces and medical staff with caution and respect.
  • Avoid public gatherings as a basic security precaution due to credible risk of localised unrest over public health response to the epidemic.
  • Follow local developments closely and know what to do in the event of an emergency.

Security managers

  • We advise evacuating non-essential staff, using commercial air options when possible. Consider approaching international air carriers, charter companies and external support providers (including International SOS) accordingly. Stay alert to the changing availability and willingness of providers to fly into Ebola-affected countries.
  • Notify staff of the increased level of evacuation preparedness.
  • Conduct an evacuation briefing for key management staff (at a country, regional and global level, where applicable).
  • Check that all potential evacuees and dependents have up-to-date passports and visas, and that manifests are up-to-date and on-hand.
  • Ensure business continuity measures and manage any potential shutdown procedures as required.
  • Continue to monitor the health and security situation closely and ensure quick and effective dissemination of time-sensitive information among local staff.

 

Bardarbunga Volcano

The Icelandic Met Office has recently warned the aviation industry of potential disruption from volcanic ash, raising the alert level for the Barðarbunga volcano to orange, the fourth of five possible alert levels. This means that “the volcano shows heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption”.

Travellers should be aware that an eruption in 2010 resulted in significant disruption to travel due to the closure of large areas of European airspace. Information on the likely effects of such an eruption can be found here: http://nats.aero/blog/2014/08/happens-bardarbunga-erupts/

UMAL will monitor the situation closely but, at the time of writing, no eruption has been reported and no flight restrictions are in place.

21/08/2014 2:43 pm

 

 

 

20 Aug 2014

Africa: Anticipate regional travel disruption due to Ebola-related flight bans, health screening measures

The authorities in several countries have implemented flight bans due to the spread of Ebola. Other individual carriers have also restricted flights or modified schedules. Health screening has also been implemented at ports of entry and departure in various countries across the region. Details are listed in the Travel Briefing below.Specific details of restrictions are often difficult to verify and flight operations are subject to change at short notice. Travellers should check with their airline regarding possible suspensions, reconfirm the status of flights before setting out and allow additional time during arrival and departure to pass through enhanced medical screening.Travel BriefingEntry restrictionsThe authorities in Kenya on 19 August temporarily suspended entry into that country of passengers travelling from and through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. While the measure applies to all ports of entry in Kenya, it will exclude health professionals supporting efforts to contain the outbreak as well as Kenyan citizens returning from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, though they will be subject to extensive medical screening.Flights

Countries that have implemented Ebola-related flight restrictions:

  • Chad has banned entry to any travellers originating or transiting through Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria or Sierra Leone; airlines serving the country have rerouted flights accordingly.
  • Cameroon has banned flights from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
  • Côte d’Ivoire and Gambia have banned all passenger flights from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
  • Nigeria has suspended flights to the country operated by Gambian national carrier Gambia Bird.
  • South Sudan has suspended all flights to and from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Details of airlines that have restricted flights to Ebola-affected countries:

  • Asky Airlines has suspended flights to and from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
  • Arik Air, Gambia Bird and Kenya Airways have suspended services to Liberia and Sierra Leone.
  • British Airways has suspended flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone until at least 31 August.
  • Ceiba Intercontinental, the national airline of Equatorial Guinea, has reportedly suspended flights to West African countries.
  • Emirates Airlines has suspended flights to Guinea.
  • Korean Air suspended flights to and from Kenya from 20 August.

Other airlines have modified their routes but are still operating regular scheduled services. These include:

  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Brussels Airlines

Medical screening

Entry and exit health screening is now in place in Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Sierra Leone. This list is not exhaustive and other countries in the region may implement similar measures, which can include the partial closure of land borders, ports and river crossings in an effort to restrict cross-border travel. Members should allow additional time to pass through medical screening and not travel if they are sick. Staff should continue to monitor local media and our Ebola website for developments.

Travel Advice Summary

  • Defer non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
  • Reconfirm bookings on all regional routes as increased demand is likely. We do not hold information on specific flights.
  • Allow additional time during arrival and departure to pass through enhanced medical screening.
  • Do not travel if you are sick. Persons with fever or other Ebola-like symptoms may be taken to designated centres or have entry/exit denied.
  • For further detail and latest information refer to our dedicated Ebola website.

 

19 Aug 2014

Guinea: STAND BY: Evacuation level raised due to additional reduction of regional flight options caused by Ebola epidemic

We have increased our evacuation level for Guinea from Warning to STAND BY following the emergence of additional constraints on commercial and charter flights, and increased sensitivity at aviation hubs, caused by the Ebola outbreak in the region. The Kenyan authorities recently announced the temporary suspension of entry into or transit through the country by passengers arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, beginning on 19 August.Travel BriefingWhile Guinea was not affected by British Airways’ earlier suspension of flights to West Africa as it was not served by the airline, the Kenyan authorities’ decision will reduce evacuation options from Guinea, as it rules out Kenya, a major regional aviation hub, as a destination for any charter flights. This, and the decision by other countries to restrict flights from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia has prompted us to raise our evacuation level for Guinea as, coupled with entry restrictions imposed by other countries, it will further limit evacuation options in the event of a deterioration in the risk environment.The developments follow the closure of some land borders with neighbouring countries (Guinea-Bissau) or the subjection of travellers’ passage to health screenings. Travellers are liable to be denied passage and/or quarantined if they present symptoms that may be associated with Ebola. Should other governments or any of the remaining international carriers take similar steps in the coming days or weeks, air travel from West Africa may become even more difficult.As of 19 August, restrictions affecting air travel from Guinea affect:

  • Charter flights to Kenya (commercial flights were not previously available);
  • Flights to Cote d’Ivoire, Chad, Cameroon, Gambia and South Sudan;
  • Flights operated by Emirates (since 2 August).

We advise security managers with staff in Guinea to closely monitor the situation, identify essential and non-essential staff requirements and keep an accurate record of the location and contact details of all personnel, including, where relevant, visitors and dependents.

Outlook

The Kenyan authorities’ decision testifies to growing concern, both regionally and internationally, over the spread of the Ebola outbreak, which has prompted several countries to either close their borders or suspend flights from affected countries. In this context, there is a possibility that other major air carriers may soon reconsider their flight schedules and other regional hub countries may decide to prohibit entry to passengers travelling from Ebola-affected West African states. If further such constraints on commercial and charter air movement are identified, we would be likely to increase our evacuation level to EVACUATE: NON-ESSENTIAL STAFF.

Travel Advice Summary

International travellers

  • Defer non-essential travel to Guinea.
  • Do not travel if you are sick. Illnesses, including potentially life-threatening conditions, cannot be managed adequately. Less serious illnesses may become life-threatening. International evacuation for medical reasons is highly challenging and may not be achievable.
  • Contact International SOS for advice before travelling.
  • If undertaking essential travel, monitor the situation closely. Note that screening is being carried out at border control and other checkpoints. Allow additional time during arrival and departure to pass through medical screening.
  • Persons with fever or other Ebola-like symptoms may be taken to designated centres or have entry/exit denied.
  • Carry a first-aid kit.

In-country staff

  • Avoid high-risk activities, such as being in contact with ill people. For further detail, visit www.internationalsos.com/ebola.
  • Avoid facilities that are treating Ebola cases.
  • Liaise with local contacts and monitor local media to keep abreast of quarantine measures and restrictions to internal movements. Treat the local security forces and medical staff with caution and respect.
  • Avoid public gatherings as a basic security precaution, due to credible risk of localised unrest over public health response to the epidemic.
  • Follow local developments closely and know what to do in the event of an emergency.

Security managers

  • Identify essential and non-essential staff requirements: keep an accurate record of the location and contact details of all personnel, including, where relevant, visitors and dependents.
  • Review evacuation plans, including commercial and charter flights, to anticipate any further deterioration of the health situation and the impact of further suspension of flights or landing clearances.
  • Continue to monitor the health and security situation closely and ensure quick and effective dissemination of time-sensitive information among local staff.
  • Closely monitor further suspension and status of flights.

 

18 Aug 2014

Sierra Leone: EVACUATE: NON-ESSENTIAL STAFF: Further constraints on commercial flight options due to Ebola outbreak prompt increase in evacuation levelWe have increased our evacuation level for Sierra Leone from Stand By to EVACUATE: NON-ESSENTIAL STAFF due to further constraints on commercial and charter air movements relating to countries affected by the Ebola outbreak, and increased sensitivity at aviation hubs.The Kenyan authorities on 16 August announced a temporary suspension of entry to or transit through the country by passengers arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, effective from 00.00 (local time) on 19 August. To comply with this decision, Kenya Airways announced the suspension of its flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia (the carrier does not operate in Guinea), also from 19 August.Travel BriefingWe have decided to raise our evacuation level because the latest developments will further limit evacuation options in the event of a deterioration in the medical and security risk environment. Kenya Airways is one of the few international carriers serving Sierra Leone, and the suspension of its operations will reduce the already limited availability of commercial flights out of the country.Moreover, this development, which reflects wider nervousness by governments regarding all travel to and from Ebola-affected West African states, will also affect charter transit through Nairobi (Kenya) as the Kenyan government’s decision affects the movement of any travellers arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea into or through Kenya, excepting Kenyan nationals or healthcare workers assisting West African governments with controlling the Ebola outbreak. This further complicates the logistical challenge of moving foreign staff out of Sierra Leone since Nairobi is a major African travel hub.Should other governments or any of the remaining international carriers take similar steps in the coming weeks, air travel from Sierra Leone may become even more difficult. Due to these progressively increasing restrictions imposed by some countries on incoming travellers from Ebola-affected countries – including screening, closure of borders and cessation of commercial flights –, travellers to these countries may encounter significant difficulties and disruption in their onward journeys to other international locations.

Managers should assess these new logistical limitations, as well as the associated health and access-to-care risks related to the Ebola outbreak, in relation to their staff. We advise the evacuation of non-essential staff using commercial airlines wherever possible. Maintain close contact with external support providers (including International SOS) to track the availability of assets and the feasibility of movement plans.

Outlook

The Kenyan authorities’ decision testifies to growing concern, both regionally and internationally, over the spread of the Ebola outbreak. The World Health Organization (WHO) on 8 August declared the outbreak in several West African countries to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), though Sierra Leone had declared a state of emergency by 1 August. In this context, there is a possibility that other major air carriers may soon reconsider their flight schedules and other regional hub countries may decide to prohibit the entry of passengers travelling from Ebola-affected West African states. This is also likely to impact charter flight access to these locations.

If such further constraints on commercial and charter air movement are identified for Sierra Leone, or if the socio-economic consequences of the Ebola outbreak and of the authorities’ handling of it fuel a deterioration in the local security environment, we would be likely to increase our evacuation level to EVACUATE: ALL STAFF.

Travel Advice Summary

International travellers

  • Defer non-essential travel to Sierra Leone.
  • Do not travel if you are sick. Illnesses, including potentially life-threatening conditions, cannot be managed adequately. Less serious illnesses may become life-threatening. International evacuation for medical reasons is highly challenging and may not be achievable.
  • Contact International SOS for advice before travelling.
  • If carrying out essential travel, monitor the situation closely. Note that screening is being carried out at border control and other checkpoints. Allow additional time during arrival and departure to pass through medical screening.
  • Travellers with fever or other Ebola-like symptoms may be taken to designated centres or have entry/exit denied.
  • Avoid high-risk activities (which include having contact with ill people) and pay strict attention to hygiene.
  • Avoid medical facilities that are treating Ebola cases.
  • Carry a first-aid kit.

In-country staff

  • Avoid high-risk activities, such as being in contact with ill people. For further detail, visit www.internationalsos.com/ebola.
  • Avoid facilities that are treating Ebola cases.
  • Liaise with local contacts and monitor local media to keep abreast of quarantine measures and restrictions to internal movements. Treat the local security forces and medical staff with caution and respect.
  • Avoid public gatherings as a basic security precaution, due to credible risk of localised unrest over public health response to the epidemic.
  • Follow local developments closely and know what to do in the event of an emergency.

Security managers

  • We advise evacuating non-essential staff, using commercial air when possible. Consider approaching international air carriers, charter companies and external support providers (including International SOS) accordingly. Stay alert of the changing availability and willingness of providers to fly into Ebola-affected countries.
  • Notify staff of the increased level of evacuation preparedness.
  • Conduct an evacuation briefing for key management staff (at a country, regional and global level where applicable).
  • Check that all potential evacuees and dependents have up-to-date passports and visas, and that manifests are up-to-date and on-hand.
  • Ensure business continuity measures and manage any potential shutdown procedures as required.
  • Continue to monitor the health and security situation closely and ensure quick and effective dissemination of time-sensitive information among local staff.

 

18 Aug 2014

Liberia: EVACUATE: NON-ESSENTIAL STAFF: Further constraints on commercial flight options due to Ebola outbreak prompts increase in evacuation level

We have increased our evacuation level for Liberia from Stand By to EVACUATE: NON-ESSENTIAL STAFF following further constraints on commercial and charter air movements, and increased sensitivity at aviation hubs towards travellers coming from countries affected by the outbreak of the Ebola virus.The Kenyan authorities on 16 August announced a temporary suspension of entry to or transit through the country by passengers arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, effective from 00.00 (local time) on 19 August. To comply with this decision, Kenya Airways announced the suspension of its flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia (the air carrier does not operate in Guinea), also from 19 August.Travel BriefingWe have decided to raise our evacuation level because the latest developments will further limit evacuation options in the event of a deterioration in the risk environment. Kenya Airways is one of the few international air carriers serving Liberia, and the suspension of its operations will reduce the already limited availability of commercial flights out of the country. The Kenyan authorities and Kenya Airways’ decisions will result in a significant reduction of commercial carrier capacity servicing Liberia and Sierra Leone.Moreover, this position, which reflects wider nervousness by governments over all travel to and from Ebola-affected West African states, will also affect charter transit through Nairobi (Kenya) as the Kenyan government’s decision affects the movement of any travellers arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea into or through Kenya, excepting Kenyan nationals or healthcare workers assisting West African governments with controlling the Ebola outbreak. This complicates the logistical challenges of moving foreign staff out of Liberia since Nairobi is a major African travel hub for flights across West Africa.Should other governments or any of the remaining international carriers take similar steps in the coming weeks, air travel from West Africa may become even more difficult. Due to these progressively increasing restrictions imposed by some countries on incoming travellers from Ebola-affected countries – including screening, closure of borders and cessation of commercial flights –, travellers to these countries may encounter significant difficulties and disruption in their onward journeys to other international locations.Managers should assess these new logistical limitations, as well as the associated health and access-to-care risks related to the Ebola outbreak, in relation to their staff. We advise the evacuation of non-essential staff using commercial airlines wherever possible. Maintain close contact with external support providers (including International SOS) to track the availability of assets and the feasibility of movement plans.

Outlook

The Kenyan authorities’ decision testifies to growing concern, both regionally and internationally, over the spread of the Ebola outbreak. The World Health Organization (WHO) on 8 August declared the outbreak in several West African countries to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). In this context, there is a possibility that other major air carriers may soon reconsider their flight schedules and other regional hub countries may decide to prohibit the entry of passengers travelling from Ebola-affected West African states. This is also likely to impact charter flight access to these locations.

If such further constraints on commercial and charter air movement are identified, we would be likely to increase our evacuation level to EVACUATE: ALL STAFF. Similarly, increased levels of unrest and/or animosity towards foreign personnel linked to the social, economic or human consequences of the Ebola outbreak would constitute another trigger for such a move.

Travel Advice Summary

International travellers

  • Defer non-essential travel to Liberia.
  • Do not travel if you are sick. Medical facilities in Liberia are strained by the Ebola crisis and medical care may not be available.
  • Contact International SOS for advice before travelling.
  • If undertaking essential travel, monitor the situation closely. Note that screening is being carried out at border control and other checkpoints. Allow additional time during arrival and departure to pass through medical screening.
  • Persons with fever or other Ebola-like symptoms may be taken to designated centres or have entry/exit denied.
  • Carry a first-aid kit.

In-country staff

  • Avoid high-risk activities, such as being in contact with ill people. For further detail, visit www.internationalsos.com/ebola.
  • Avoid facilities treating Ebola cases.
  • Liaise with local contacts and monitor local media to keep abreast of quarantine measures and restrictions to internal movements. Treat the local security forces and medical staff with caution and respect.
  • Avoid public gatherings as a basic security precaution, due to credible risk of localised unrest over public health response to the epidemic.
  • Follow local developments closely and know what to do in the event of an emergency.

Security managers

  • We advise evacuating non-essential staff, using commercial air when possible. Consider approaching international air carriers, charter companies and external support providers (including International SOS) accordingly. Stay alert of the changing availability and willingness of providers to fly into Ebola-affected countries.
  • Notify staff of the increased level of evacuation preparedness.
  • Conduct an evacuation briefing for key management staff (at a country, regional and global level where applicable).
  • Check that all potential evacuees and dependents have up-to-date passports and visas, and that manifests are up-to-date and on-hand.
  • Ensure business continuity measures and manage any potential shutdown procedures as required.
  • Continue to monitor the health and security situation closely and ensure quick and effective dissemination of time-sensitive information among local staff.

 

14 Aug 2014

Special Advisory – Pakistan: Quetta: Avoid vicinity of Quetta airport amid manhunt following militant attack; flights remain suspended (Revised 22.17 GMT)At least one militant was killed and two troops were injured in an unsuccessful attack on the Samungli airbase near Quetta International Airport (UET, Balochistan province) shortly before midnight (local time) on 14 August. Around six militants attacked the military base with rocket-propelled grenades and firearms but were prevented by security forces from breaching the airport perimeter. The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has suspended all flights into and out of the airport until further notice. Roads leading to the airport have also reportedly been blocked.At around the same time, security personnel reportedly defused four explosive devices near Khalid Airfield, another military base located four miles (7km) east of the airport. No group has claimed responsibility for either incident so far. The security forces are conducting an operation to find and neutralise the remaining gunmen. Members on essential travel to Quetta should avoid the airport until the authorities confirm that the situation has stabilised.Travel BriefingHeightened security measures can be expected in areas and routes surrounding the airport, as well as in the city, until the security forces locate the remaining gunmen. Travellers should anticipate stringent security checks and associated delays while the manhunt continues; identification should be carried at all times to ease passage at checkpoints.Outgoing flights are likely to be cancelled and incoming services diverted to other airports until the situation is resolved. Significant disruption can be expected even when operations resume, as carriers work to clear the backlog of flights. An increased security force presence and enhanced checks should also be expected at other major airports, including the capital Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport ( ISB), Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport (LHE, Punjab province) and Peshawar’s Bacha Khan International Airport (PEW, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province).The attack underlines the considerable threat posed by militancy in the country and highlights the ability of Islamist militants to attack high-profile and high-security facilities, including transport hubs and airports. On 9 June, militants from Islamist militant Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, the Pakistani Taliban) attacked Jinnah International Airport (KHI), which serves Karachi (Sindh province), resulting in 36 deaths.

Travel Advice Summary

  • Avoid the vicinity of Quetta International Airport (UET) until the authorities confirm the situation has stabilised. Comply with all directives given by the security forces.
  • Travel to Balochistan, including Quetta, should be for essential purposes only due to the risks posed by sectarian violence, military operations and insurgency.
  • We do not hold information on specific flights. Reconfirm flights schedules with the relevant airline before setting out on your journey.
  • Minimise time spent in the vicinity of likely targets for attack; in particular: crowded unsecured areas, security force personnel and assets, and places where Westerners and the Pakistani elite are known to congregate.
  • Maintain security awareness, even in perceived safer areas, and report any suspicious behaviour or suspect packages to the authorities.

 

10 Aug 2014

Special Advisory – Afghanistan: Kabul: Suicide car bombing reflects risks posed by militant activity (Revised 10.01 GMT)At least four people were killed and 36 others injured in a suicide car bombing at around 11.30 (local time) on 10 August on Darulaman Road in Police District 6 of the capital Kabul; the incident underlines the risks posed by militant activity. The attack targeted a NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) convoy; the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the blast, which also damaged several nearby cars. The security forces have cordoned off the site and blocked the road. All members should avoid the affected area until the authorities deem it safe.Travel Briefing The incident reflects the intent and capability of militants to conduct attacks in Kabul; such violence typically focuses on government and security force personnel and buildings, both domestic and international. Other potential targets include shopping centres, hotels and the assets of diplomatic and aid organisations, including in high-security areas of the capital. The 10 August bombing underlines the significant incidental risks posed by attacks targeting security force personnel; all of the victims in the blast were civilians. Members in the city should minimise movement outside secure premises and time spent around likely targets for insurgent attack, both static and in transit.Heightened security and associated measures such as checkpoints and traffic restrictions can be expected in the vicinity of security incidents as the security forces conduct investigations. Members should allow additional time for journeys if passing through such areas and carry relevant personal identification to ease movement through checkpoints.Travel Advice Summary

  • Travel to Afghanistan should be for essential purposes only.
  • Avoid the affected area until the authorities deem it safe. Liaise with your security provider regarding the incident and the viability of movement in the coming hours.
  • Minimise movement outside secure premises and the time spent around likely targets for insurgent attack, both static and in transit; these include ISAF, Afghan security force and government personnel and interests, as well as locations where foreigners are known to gather.
  • If you are caught in the vicinity of an attack, stand fast in a secure location until the situation stabilises. Move only if in immediate danger or to reach a secure location.
  • Increased spot-checks are likely in the vicinity of the incident as the security forces conduct investigations. Allow additional travel time and carry relevant personal identification to ease movement through checkpoints.

 

10 Aug 2014

Special Advisory – Iran: Tehran: Reconfirm schedules following plane crash near Mehrabad airport (Revised 09.23 GMT)A small passenger plane crashed at around 09.45 (local time) on 10 August just after taking off from Mehrabad International Airport (THR), which serves the capital Tehran. The Taban Air flight was en route to Tabas (South Khorasan province) when it crashed in the Azad residential area on Mina 6 Boulevard.According to local media, around 48 people – 40 passengers and eight crew members – were on board; at least 40 people were reportedly killed in the crash, which was reportedly caused by engine failure. The police have cordoned off the site of the crash. Travellers scheduled to fly to or from Mehrabad airport may face delays and cancellations, and should contact their airline for information on possible delays to scheduled flights.Travel BriefingDisruption is likely in the vicinity of the crash site as emergency responders converge and conduct search and rescue operations. Travellers should allow additional time for journeys if passing through the area.Travel Advice Summary

  • Account for personnel.
  • We do not hold information on specific flights. Contact your airline for information on delays to scheduled flights.
  • Members in Tehran should allow additional time for journeys in the vicinity of the crash site.
  • Monitor our travel security alerts for related developments.

 

6 Aug 2014

Sierra Leone: STAND BY: Potential constraints on air travel options during Ebola epidemic prompt precautionary increase of evacuation levelWe have increased our evacuation level for Sierra Leone from Warning to STAND BY as a precaution following the recent suspension of services by some commercial airlines, and the reduced availability of air charter flight options. British Airways has suspended all flights to and from Sierra Leone and Liberia until 31 August; Emirates Airlines has suspended flights to Guinea; and Arik Air and Asky Airlines are no longer operating to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Other international carriers could take similar steps in the coming days or weeks, making air travel more difficult.Managers should now identify essential and non-essential staffing, consider their risk management measures, reassess their evacuation plans, and monitor commercial flight options. Managers are advised to assess the major health and access to care risks consequent to the Ebola outbreak in relation to their staff and consider reducing in-country staff numbers, using commercial air where practical.Travel BriefingThe increase to STAND BY is precautionary: the current situation does not warrant the evacuation of staff from the country. However, the commercial options for the movement of personnel are limited: this could change at short notice as other major international carriers reconsider their flight schedules. This will render air evacuation more difficult in the event of a deterioration in the risk environment.The latest health advice on the medical risks associated with ebola is available on www.internationalsos.com/ebolaIf further constraints on commercial and charter air movement are identified, we would be likely to increase our evacuation level to EVACUATE: NON-ESSENTIAL STAFF.Travel Advice SummaryInternational travellers

  • Defer non-essential travel to Sierra Leone.
  • Do not travel if you are sick. Persons with fever or other Ebola-like symptoms may be taken to designated centres or have entry/exit denied. Ring International SOS for advice before travelling.
  • If carrying out essential travel, allow additional time during arrival and departure to pass through medical screening.

In-country staff

  • Avoid high-risk activities, such as being in contact with ill people or eating bush meat.
  • Liaise with local contacts and monitor local media to keep abreast of quarantine measures and restrictions to internal movements. Treat the local security forces and medical staff with caution and respect.

Security managers

  • Identify essential and non-essential staff requirements: keep an accurate record of the location and contact details of all personnel, including, where relevant, visitors and dependents.
  • Review evacuation plans, including commercial and charter flights, to anticipate further deterioration of the health situation and the impact of further suspension of flights or landing clearances.
  • Continue to monitor the health and security situation closely and ensure quick and effective dissemination of time-sensitive information among local staff.

 

5 Aug 2014

Risk Rating Changes

SOMALIA: 5 AUG 2014We have lowered the travel risk rating for the north-eastern region of Puntland from Extreme to HIGH. Security incidents are less frequent than in south-central Somalia, regional presidential elections passed in January without severe disruption or major incident and providers are generally able to offer secure escorts for clients travelling in both urban and rural areas. Travel security threats in Puntland nevertheless remain serious.

 

5 Aug 2014

United Kingdom: Monitor developments after security alert on Qatar Airways flight to Manchester Airport

Qatar Airways flight QR023 from Doha (Qatar) on 5 August was intercepted and escorted by a military aircraft to its destination, Manchester Airport (MAN, Greater Manchester county), following reports of a suspected explosive device aboard. The airport declared a full emergency and flights were diverted to Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA, West Yorkshire county), though latest reports indicate that operations have since normalised; the aircraft has been isolated and the police are dealing with the incident. Details are still emerging.Travel Advice

  • Monitor developments closely until the situation clarifies.
  • If scheduled to to or from Manchester airport in the coming hours, reconfirm the status of your flight with the relevant airline and be prepared to modify your travel plans accordingly. We do not hold information on specific flights.
  • Monitor our travel security alerts on UK for further information.

 

4 Aug 2014

Risk Rating ChangesRUSSIA: 4 AUG 2014We have lowered the travel risk rating for Chechnya, North Ossetia and Karachaevo Cherkessia from High to MEDIUM and lowered Dagestan from Extreme to HIGH. Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria continue to be rated as HIGH risk. The decision to lower the travel risk rating for Chechnya, North Ossetia and Karachaevo Cherkessia is due to a reduced threat environment. The frequency of militant attacks and organised crime-related violence has decreased over recent years, which combined with stronger security force capabilities to clamp down on the threat, has brought relatively increasing stability. Similarly, the rating for Dagestan has been lowered due to a slight improvement in the security situation to the extent that the risks are now more aligned with our definition of a High risk area, as opposed to Extreme.

 

4 Aug 2014

Special Advisory – Israel: Suspected terror attack on bus in Jerusalem reflects heightened risk of militancy, communal violence (Revised 12.55 GMT)One Israeli was killed and six others injured when a Palestinian construction vehicle driver on 4 August drove into an empty public bus on Shmuel Hanavi Street in a religious neighbourhood in Jerusalem (Jerusalem district), in what the authorities say was a terrorist attack. The police shot and killed the driver. Further details of the incident are yet to emerge; members should continue to avoid the area in the coming hours until investigations are complete.Travel BriefingThe use of a construction vehicle against public transport is a common tactic by Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, and similar incidents, some of them resulting in casualties, have occurred since 2008. The incident underlines the heightened risk of an attack in Jerusalem amid ongoing hostilities between the Gaza-based Islamist movement Hamas and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and resultant instability in the West Bank. However, it remains unclear whether the attack is linked to heightened communal tensions and perpetrated by one individual or linked to a group with a radical Islamist ideology.Though the risk of a militant attack in Jerusalem and other cities in Israel is heightened due to the ongoing conflict between Hamas and the IDF, the capabilities of militant groups have been severely degraded and the success rate of carrying out a high-impact attack or sustained attacks is offset by Israel’s effective counter-terrorism measures. However, smaller attacks, similar to the one on 4 August, or acts of communal violence are likely in the current climate. Our advice remains to defer non-essential travel to East Jerusalem and the Old City until further notice, and to avoid using public buses.Travel Advice Summary

  • Continue to avoid the area until investigations are complete. Follow all directives issued by the authorities.
  • Do not use buses as these are still one of the most preferred targets of an attack.
  • Continue to defer non-essential travel to East Jerusalem and the Old City due to the risk of unrest. Do not use the Light Rail in that part of the city.
  • Consult our separate update on the ongoing crisis for further information and advice.

 

1 Aug 2014

Risk Rating ChangesKENYA: 1 AUGUST 2014We have lowered the travel risk rating for the remote areas bordering Somalia from Extreme to HIGH due to the changing nature of the threat posed by militant groups. Our information suggests that while the threat in the remote border areas has diluted, militants have simultaneously expanded their area of operations to the counties at large and made tactical shifts towards clandestine attacks utilising local sympathisers rather than relying on Somali territory as a safe haven. Members visiting such areas are required to exercise heightened security precautions and they should seek comprehensive itinerary-specific advice from their nearest Assistance Centre prior to travel.

 

1 Aug 2014

Africa: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone: Defer non-essential travel following spike in Ebola virus outbreak

Members should defer non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone due to a recent spike in the Ebola virus outbreak and associated travel restrictions and enhanced health screenings enforced by the local authorities. Staff undertaking essential travel should allow additional time to pass through medical screening at airports and border posts.Some border posts in Liberia have recently closed and health screening of all passengers entering or leaving the country has been implemented at the remaining crossings. In Sierra Leone, the government on 30 July decided to quarantine all the epicentres of the outbreak and to ban public gatherings in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus. Checkpoints have also been established to screen all vehicles and passengers entering or leaving Kailahun district.Travel BriefingEntry and exit health screening, including temperature checks, is now in place in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. As a result, staff who are sick should avoid all travel; any traveller appearing ill would be likely to be placed in isolation, or sent to a local medical facility where Ebola victims are treated, hereby enhancing the risk of exposure to the disease. In addition, entrance to or exit from a country can be denied.The authorities in the three affected countries have also imposed restrictions on movement and quarantined some locations in a bid to halt the spread of the disease. Travellers to the affected countries should be aware that quarantine and internal travel restrictions can be implemented at very short notice, disrupting travel.Travel Advice Summary

  • Defer non-essential travel due to spike in Ebola epidemic and associated measures.
  • Allow additional time during arrival and departure to pass through enhanced medical screening.
  • Do not travel if you are sick. Persons with fever or other Ebola-like symptoms may be taken to designated centres or have entry/exit denied.
  • Avoid high-risk activities, such as being in contact with ill people or eating bush meat.
  • Liaise with local contacts and monitor local media to keep abreast of quarantine measures and restrictions to internal movements. Treat the local security forces and medical staff with caution and respect.

 

30 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Nigeria: Kano: Suicide bombing at college causes fatalities; further attacks possible in coming days (Revised 18.31 GMT)Six people were killed and six others injured on 30 July when a female suicide bomber blew herself up at the State Polytechnic College in Kano (Kano state), underlining the need to avoid all but business-critical travel to northern states due to increased risks posed by militant activity. The attack occurred at approximately 14.45 (local time) as students gathered to check examination results.Travel BriefingWhile no group has claimed responsibility, the bombing closely resembles several recent attacks and it is likely that a local cell of the Islamist extremist movement Boko Haram is responsible. The attack marks the fourth use of female suicide bombers in the past week, which is a dangerous trend, as females can more easily evade detection and are less likely to be searched by the security forces.Increased security measures, including vehicle checkpoints and personnel searches, can be expected in the vicinity of the Kano State Polytechnic College campus and at strategic sites in Kano following the attack. However, such security measures may not preclude further attacks in the coming days, given that militants have been able to avoid detection and successfully carry out bombings on several consecutive days this week.More traditional Boko Haram targets include Christian places of worship, Muslim figures it deems insufficiently radical and facilities it regards as contrary to Islam, though the group has also increasingly focused on civilian facilities such as educational institutions, entertainment venues, transport hubs and government or security force facilities. Members undertaking business-critical travel in the city should minimise time spent in the vicinity of possible militant targets and remain alert to their surroundings at all times.BackgroundA female suicide bomber killed three people and injured eight others during an attack on 28 July on a fuel station in Kano’s Hotoro area. The same day another female suicide bomber detonated her device outside the city’s Trade Fair Complex on Zoo Road as she was being searched by security force personnel, injuring six people. On 27 July, a female suicide bomber killed herself and injured five police officers in an attack on Kano’s North-West University campus in the Kofar Nasarawa area of Kanoon.Travel Advice Summary

  • Travel to Kano should be for business-critical purposes only, undertaken with security support and after seeking itinerary-specific advice.
  • Avoid the Kano State Polytechnic College until the situation clarifies.
  • Anticipate heightened security throughout Kano in the coming hours and days as the security forces conduct investigations; allow additional time for journeys and comply with the security force instructions.
  • Expect increased spot-checks; approach checkpoints slowly and carefully and carry personal identification to ease movement through checkpoints.
  • There is a credible risk of attacks by Islamist militants on government and security force personnel and infrastructure, places of entertainment, educational institutions and places of worship across northern and central Nigeria. Minimise time spent in the vicinity of possible targets and remain alert to your surroundings at all times.

 

30 Jul 2014

Risk Rating ChangesYEMEN: 30 JUL 2014We have raised Yemen’s overall travel risk rating from High to EXTREME to reflect the very unstable and insecure travel environment in the country, the wide range of threats foreign visitors face and the persistent lawlessness that shows no sign of improving. Two HIGH travel risk zones will remain: the far-eastern province of al-Mahrah; and a group of five western provinces (Hodeidah, Ibb, Mawhit, Raymah and Taiz), areas that have witnessed notably lower incident rates than elsewhere but nonetheless remain quite insecure. We advise against travel to the EXTREME travel risk provinces with the exception of the capital Sanaa, where journeys remain possible with stringent security precautions.

 

24 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Mid East & N Africa: Defer non-essential travel to West Bank, parts of Jerusalem on 25 July due to increased potential for unrestAt least two Palestinians were killed and 50 others injured in clashes between Palestinian protesters and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) near the Qalandiya checkpoint, which connects Ramallah (West Bank) and East Jerusalem overnight on 24-25 July. The IDF fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse several thousand protesters, who threw stones and fireworks.At least two police officers were also injured in clashes near the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem’s Old City, while unrest were also reported in the adjacent Wadi Joz and Silwan areas of the city. The authorities subsequently closed several roads in the vicinity.Travel Briefing Travellers should defer non-essential travel to the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Jerusalem’s Old City until at least 26 July due to the likelihood of further protest activity and associated unrest. The fatalities will significantly increase tensions, and further clashes between the IDF and activists are likely on the day, which is also a Friday, the start of the Islamic weekend and of the Jewish Sabbath. The protesters’ funerals will also likely take place on 25 July, and be additional flashpoints for unrest.Likely protest locations in Jerusalem include the Temple Mount complex in the Old City, the Palestinian areas of Shufat, Beit Hanina, Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Issawiya, al-Suwaneh, Sur Baher. Protests are also likely in major urban centres throughout the West Bank on the day, including Ramallah, Hebron, and Bethlehem, while activists may attempt to march to IDF checkpoints, particularly Qalandiya. All such gatherings carry a credible risk of unrest. Members on essential travel in the West Bank on the day should liaise closely with local contacts for information on planned events and avoid all protest activity.Travel Advice

  • Defer non-essential travel to the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Jerusalem’s Old City until at least 26 July due to the increased potential for unrest.
  • If you are on essential travel to the above areas on 25 July, exercise caution; liaise with local contacts for information on any planned events and avoid all protests and likely flashpoint areas on the day. Leave the vicinity if a large crowd or security force personnel begin to gather.
  • The IDF is likely to institute heightened security measures in Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank on 25 July, including potential movement restrictions, increased numbers of checkpoints and road closures. If conducting essential travel on the day, allow additional travel time.
  • Comply with all directives issued by the security forces and treat all security force personnel with patience and respect.

 

24 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Nigeria: Kano: Explosion in Sabon Gari area kills at least one; minimise movement overnightAt least one person was killed and eight others injured in an explosion at around 15.40 (local time) on 24 July in the northern city of Kano (Kano state); heightened security should be expected in the coming hours and days. The blast, which took place near the New Road motor park in the Sabon Gari neighbourhood, was reportedly the result of a bomb hidden in luggage. Unconfirmed local sources indicate a second explosion occurred, though details remain scarce. Those on business-critical travel to Kano should minimise movement overnight.Travel BriefingNo group immediately claimed responsibility for the blasts, though it is likely that the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram was involved. The Sabon Gari neighbourhood is a predominantly Christian area within the largely Muslim town and has previously been targeted by Islamist militant groups. On 18 May, a car bomb detonated along the Hausa/Igbo Road in the area, apparently targeting an entertainment spot; on 29 July 2013, a series of bombings near another entertainment venue in Sabon Gari killed 11 people.Boko Haram regularly focuses on civilian targets such as entertainment venues, transport hubs, educational institutions, as well as places of worship or other interests associated with Christianity. The group maintains capabilities across northern and central Nigeria, acting from its stronghold of Borno state. Members on business-critical travel to these states should minimise time spent in the vicinity of possible targets and remain alert to their surroundings at all times.Travel Advice Summary

  • Those on business-critical travel to Kano should minimise movement overnight.
  • Avoid the Sabon Gari area as rescue operations continue.
  • Anticipate heightened security throughout the city in the coming hours and days. Carry personal identification to ease passage through spot-checks, follow security force instructions, and approach checkpoints slowly and carefully.
  • There is a credible risk of attacks by Islamist militants on government and security force personnel and infrastructure; places of entertainment; educational institutions; and places of worship across northern and central Nigeria. Minimise time spent in the vicinity of possible targets and remain alert to your surroundings at all times.
  • Travel to Kano should be for business-critical purposes only, undertaken with security support and after seeking itinerary-specific advice.

 

24 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Algeria: Monitor developments after Air Algeria loses contact with flight from Ouagadougou

Air Algeria on 24 July said that it had lost contact with flight AH5017 around an hour after it left Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou for the Algerian capital Algiers. The flight had been scheduled to depart at 00.45 (Burkina Faso time) earlier in the day, and it was scheduled to land at Algier’s Houari Boumediene Airport (ALG) at 05.40 (Algeria time). The aircraft reportedly has approximately 110 passengers on board. Details are still emerging.Travel Advice

  • We do not hold specific information on flights. Contact Air Algeria at + 21 6895 05 for further information.
  • Monitor our travel security alerts on Algeria for further related updates.

 

23 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Taiwan: Penghu county: Magong airport remains closed following crash of TransAsia Airways flight (Revised 16.15 GMT)TransAsia Airways flight GE 222 at around 19.00 (local time) on 23 July crashed near Magong Airport (MZQ, Penghu county). The casualty toll has not been confirmed, though reports indicate that more than 40 passengers were killed and at least seven others injured. At least two French nationals were aboard the flight.The ATR-72 aircraft, which was carrying 54 passengers and four crew members, was en route to Magong from Kaohsiung International Airport (KHH). The flight lost contact with the control tower while attempting to land and subsequently crashed into a residential area. Magong airport will be closed until further notice.Travel BriefingThe cause of the incident is unclear, though reports indicate that it may have been the result of heavy rains and strong winds associated with the passage of Typhoon Matmo. This had already resulted in a number of flights – including some international services – being cancelled or delayed at the capital’s Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA), as well as Taoyuan International Airport (TPE), Taichung Airport (RMQ, Taichung county), Hengchun Airport (HCN, Pingtung county) and Kaohsiung International Airport.Travel Advice Summary

  • Account for personnel.
  • Travellers should contact the relevant airline directly regarding alternative travel arrangements while rescue operations are ongoing at Magong Airport.
  • Monitor our travel security alerts on Taiwan for further updates.
  • We do not hold specific information on flights and other transport. If planning to travel to, and within Taiwan, reconfirm flight, ferry and other transport bookings with the relevant service providers. Maintain flexible itineraries.

 

23 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Taiwan: Penghu county: Magong airport closed following TransAsia Airways plane crash

TransAsia Airways flight GE 222 crashed at around 19.00 (local time) on 23 July near Magong Airport (MZQ, Penghu county). At least 51 passengers have reportedly been killed and seven others have been injured. The authorities have closed the airport. The ATR-72 aircraft, which was carrying 54 passengers and four crew members, was en route from Kaohsiung International Airport (KHH) to Magong.The plane lost contact with the control tower while attempting to land and subsequently crashed into a residential area outside Magong airport. The cause of the incident is unclear, though reports indicate that it may have been the result of bad weather.Travel Advice

  • Account for personnel.
  • Travellers should contact the relevant airline directly regarding alternative travel arrangements while rescue operations are ongoing at Magong Airport.
  • Monitor our travel security alerts on Taiwan for further updates.

 

23 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Nigeria: Kaduna city: Avoid vicinity of Murtala Square following fatal explosionSeveral people have reportedly been killed in an explosion near Murtala Square in Kaduna city (Kaduna state). Further details of the incident are still emerging.Travel Advice

  • Account for all personnel.
  • Avoid the vicinity of Murtala Square until the situation clarifies. Comply with all directives issued by the security forces.
  • Travellers should communicate their location to their line manager.
  • Monitor our travel security alerts on Nigeria for further updates.

 

22 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Israel: Defer non-essential travel due to flight suspensions by US, European carriers (Revised 20.40 GMT)Members should defer non-essential travel to Israel after several US and European carriers on 22 July suspended flights to and from the country. The move came after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip (Palestinian Territories) landed in Yehud (Central district), north of Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV), slightly injuring one person and damaging a building.The US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) subsequently prohibited all US flights into Tel Aviv for 24 hours from 16.15 (GMT), subject to further extensions. The European Aviation Safety Agency also ‘strongly recommended’ that airlines halt operations at Ben Gurion airport, though no warning was issued and no time frame given.Several carriers, including Delta and United Airlines, suspended flights to the country until further notice, while two flights en route to Tel Aviv were diverted to other airports. It is currently unclear whether suspensions imposed by other carriers such as KLM, Turkish Airlines and US Airways will be extended.Travel BriefingThese developments do not indicate a deterioration of the security environment in Israel, as rocket fire into the country has occurred regularly since the start of sustained hostilities with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on 7 July. The move to defer non-essential travel was instead prompted by the increased logistical difficulties associated with travel to and from the country due to the suspension of flights. Cancellations by other carriers, as well as extensions of existing suspensions, are possible over the coming days and travellers should reconfirm flight details with the relevant carrier before setting out.In-country travellers should continue to expect air raid sirens over the coming days as rocket fire into Israel is likely to continue. Most rocket attacks target areas in southern Israel, though periodic barrages have also been directed at Tel Aviv and other central and northern areas, and occasionally result in the temporary suspension of operations at Ben Gurion airport. The overwhelming majority of rockets – which are unsophisticated and unguided – land in open areas or are intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system, though some have resulted in injuries and property damage.Travel Advice Summary

  • Due to limited flight availability, members should defer non-essential travel to Israel until further notice. In-country members should consider leaving by commercial means if uncomfortable with their current arrangements. For further information on the current security environment in Israel, see our regional report.
  • Continue to avoid all travel to locations within 25 miles (40km) of the border with Gaza. If travelling regardless, monitor events closely during your stay in these areas and familiarise yourself with the local emergency procedures.
  • In the event of rocket fire, follow the advice and instructions from the emergency services and civil authorities. Know what to do when you hear air raid warnings, and familiarise yourself with the location of the nearest air raid shelters. For further information on what to do during a rocket attack, visit the IDF Home Front Command website.
  • Expect disruption to business schedules as air raid sirens are heard relatively regularly.
  • Other flight cancellations are possible over the coming days. We do not hold information on specific flights. Travellers should reconfirm flight schedules with the relevant carrier before setting out.

 

22 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Congo (DRC): Kinshasa: Tense calm restored following shooting in Ngaliema district; minimise movement until 23 July (Revised 17.10 GMT)

According to local sources, the situation in the capital Kinshasa as of 17.00 (local time) on 22 July was calm but tense after fighting between uniformed men at Camp Tshatshi (Ngaliema neighbourhood), which houses the Republican Guard. A heavy security force presence is visible in the vicinity of the presidential palace, Camp Tshatshi and the Grand Hotel.Kinshasa’s N’Djili International Airport (FIH) was reportedly closed following the shooting, which occurred at around 13.30 (local time), but our sources indicate that it has either reopened or is about to. The security forces are reportedly carrying out checks on vehicles with local licence plates, which is slowing down traffic in the city. Travellers should continue to monitor developments and keep movement in the city to a minimum until 23 July as a precautionary measure.Travel BriefingThe cause of the unrest at Camp Tshatshi remains unclear, with some sources suggesting an escape attempt by supporters of religious leader Paul Joseph Mukungubila, who were arrested after earlier disturbances in December 2013 and are being held at the camp. However, this has not been confirmed.The closure of the airport is likely to have been a precautionary measure taken by the security forces, given the precedent of the 30 December 2013 attack by Mukungubila’s supporters on the facility, among other targets. Security is likely to remain heightened for at least 24 hours until the situation has fully stabilised.Travel Advice

  • Minimise movement as a precautionary measure until 23 July. Avoid Camp Tshatshi and the presidential palace until the situation has fully stabilised.
  • Communicate your position to your line manager.
  • Allow ample time for essential travel in Kinshasa in the coming hours.
  • Comply with all directives issued by the security forces.
  • Monitor our updates and local media and liaise with local contacts to keep abreast of further developments.

 

22 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Congo (DRC): Kinshasa: Fighting reported near presidential residence; stand fast until situation stabilisesLocal sources report that fighting between uniformed men took place in the afternoon of 22 July in Camp Tshatshi (Ngaliema neighborhood) in the capital Kinshasa, which hosts the Republican guard. The situation is now reportedly returning to normal.Travel Advice

  • Stand fast until the situation fully stabilises.
  • Comply with all directives issued by the security forces.
  • Monitor our updates and local media and liaise with local contacts to keep abreast of further developments.

 

22 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Afghanistan: Kabul: Suicide bombing underlines persistent terrorist threat in capital

A suicide bombing took place at around 06.30 (local time) on 22 July on Qasaba Road, in the Khawja Bughra area of the capital Kabul. Initial reports suggest that four people, including three foreign advisers, were killed in the explosion, which took place near the counter-narcotics branch of the interior ministry. A Taliban spokesman subsequently stated that the group was responsible for the attack.Travel BriefingFollow-up security and clean-up operations will necessitate ongoing traffic restrictions and stringent security checks along Qasaba Road, near the northern (military) side of Kabul International Airport (KBL), in the coming hours. The vicinity of the attack site should continue to be avoided during this time.There is a persistent, significant risk of terrorist attacks in Kabul. Most attacks focus on government and security force personnel and assets, though locations where foreigners are known to gather, such as guesthouses, diplomatic compounds, Kabul airport and international civilian organisations, are also key targets. Major routes to and through the city such as Airport, Darulaman and Jalalabad roads remain particularly vulnerable to improvised explosive device (IED) attacks given their heavy usage by security force, government and international community convoys.Travel Advice SummaryTravellers and expatriates

  • Anticipate increased security measures and associated traffic restrictions in the vicinity of the explosion site while clean-up operations and investigations are carried out. Follow all directives issued by the security forces.
  • Routinely minimise movement outside secure premises and the time spent around likely targets for insurgent attack, both static and in transit.
  • Armoured vehicles are recommended for all road movement; soft-skin vehicles may be practical in northern or western provinces, subject to a specific assessment and within city limits of urban centres.

For managers

  • The requirement for short-duration business trips to the country should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and should be strictly for essential purposes only.
  • If travel to Afghanistan is essential, companies should undertake a thorough review of physical and procedural security at all sites and staff accommodation against current security threats and likely militant tactics. Minimum requirements are a solid perimeter, sufficient stand-off from public spaces, tight access control, armed security and safe rooms.
  • Managers must be able to locate and communicate with all in-country travellers, including expatriate employees, throughout this period to account for them in case of a security incident. While communication networks in urban centres are reliable, use multiple providers and have satellite telephones available as back-up.

 

18 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Ukraine: Expect flight disruption after authorities close airspace over eastern Ukraine following Malaysia Airlines crash (Revised 18 Jul)Eurocontrol, Europe’s air traffic control organisation, on 17 July said that the Ukrainian authorities had closed the airspace in the east of the country to all commercial flights. The move came after Malaysia Airlines flight MH MH017 (KLM flight 4103) from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS, Netherlands) to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL, Malaysia) crashed north of Torez (Donetsk province) earlier in the day.The flight was carrying 283 passengers and 15 crew members, and there were no survivors. The cause of the crash remains unconfirmed. However, the Ukrainian authorities allege that the aircraft was downed by separatist rebels, who in turn have blamed government troops. Travellers should expect disruption to flight itineraries as airlines reroute flight paths to avoid the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine.Travel BriefingIf it is confirmed that the plane was shot down, it is likely that it was targeted in error. Donetsk and Luhansk regions have recently experienced heavy fighting between government forces and well-armed Russian-backed separatist rebels, and several Ukrainian military aircraft have been brought down by anti-aircraft missiles in recent weeks. For our assessment of the ongoing conflict in the east, please consult our separate report.As a result of the closure of the airspace in the east, flight paths are being rerouted to avoid the conflict zone, which could lead to disruption to international flight itineraries. While the capital Kyiv’s Boryspil International Airport ( KBP) remains operational, Donetsk International Airport (DOK) and Luhansk International Airport (VSG) remain closed due to the conflict. Travellers with flight bookings for the coming days should check with their airline for further details.Travel Advice Summary

  • Travel to Ukraine, except for the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, can continue with standard security precautions. Continue to defer travel to the conflict zone of Donetsk and Luhansk until further notice. If you require itinerary-specific advice, please contact the Assistance Centre.
  • Expect disruption to flights that originally would have flown over eastern Ukraine as international flight paths are being rerouted. We do not hold information on flight schedules. Contact your airline for further information on the status of flights.
  • For further information on the situation in Donetsk and Luhansk see our other reporting for more detailed information, analysis and advice; monitor our travel security alerts for related updates.

 

18 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Malaysia: Expect increased flight times, delays following crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH017 (Revised 18 Jul)Malaysian airline authorities on 17 July raised the death toll to 283 passengers and 15 crew members on Malaysia Airlines flight MH 017 (KLM flight 4103) from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS, Netherlands) to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL, Malaysia) after it crashed in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine at around 18.00 (Ukraine local time) on the day. European flight safety body Eurocontrol stated that Ukraine authorities have closed the airspace in the east of the country to all airline flights and airlines are being rerouted around the area.According to Malaysia Airlines, there were 154 Dutch, 43 Malaysian, 27 Australian, 12 Indonesian, nine British, four German, four Belgian, three Filipino and one Canadian nationals on board. The nationalities of another 41 passengers remain unconfirmed.While details of the crash are still emerging, Ukrainian officials allege that the aircraft was shot down by pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk region, a claim denied by the separatists.Travel BriefingThe rerouting of flights is likely to increased flight times are therefore possible. Several airlines have already announced that they will be rerouting flights to avoid the conflict zone, while others are reportedly avoiding Ukrainan airspace altogether. As a result, there are likely to be changes to flight schedules; travellers should account for possible delays if flying through the region in the coming hours and days.If separatists groups are responsible, it is likely a case of mistaken identity and there are no indications that armed groups in Ukraine have intentionally targeted commercial airliners. Unknown groups have fired missiles at three Ukrainian military aircraft in the past several days, most recently a Ukrainian combat aircraft was shot down near Amvrosiyivka (Donetsk province) on 16 July – Ukrainian officials accused Russia of being behind the incident.The incident may trigger small-scale and peaceful protests in Malaysia over the coming days, particularly in the vicinity of Russian embassy and consulates as that country may be blamed for the incident. Gatherings are particularly likely in Kuala Lampur (Malaysia) on 18 July, which is both a Friday (the start of the Islamic weekend) and the twentieth day of Ramadan (a celebratory occasion). Travellers should exercise caution near likely protest locations and avoid all demonstrations as a general security precaution.Travel Advice Summary

  • Managers should confirm if staff were travelling on flight MH017. Contact Malaysia Airlines at +603 7884 1234 for further information.
  • Travellers should allow for possible minor delays to arrival/landing time at destinations caused by rerouting, and confirm arrangements for onward travel on arrival.
  • We do not hold specific information on flights. Travellers should contact their carrier for specific information on potential delays and increased travel times.
  • Members in Malaysia should liaise with local contacts for further information on any related protest activity and avoid all such gatherings as a precaution. These may break out with little to no notice; leave an area at the first sign of unrest.
  • Monitor our travel security alerts for further information.

 

18 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Netherlands: Expect increased flight times, delays following crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH017 (Revised 18 Jul)Malaysian airline authorities on 17 July raised the death toll to 283 passengers and 15 crew members on Malaysia Airlines flight MH 017 (KLM flight 4103) from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS, Netherlands) to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL, Malaysia) after it crashed in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine at around 18.00 (Ukraine local time) on the day. European flight safety body Eurocontrol stated that Ukraine authorities have closed the airspace in the east of the country to all airline flights and airlines are being rerouted around the area.According to Malaysia Airlines, there were 154 Dutch, 43 Malaysian, 27 Australian, 12 Indonesian, nine British, four German, four Belgian, three Filipino and one Canadian nationals on board. The nationalities of another 41 passengers remain unconfirmed.While details of the crash are still emerging, Ukrainian officials allege that the aircraft was shot down by pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk region, a claim denied by the separatists.Travel BriefingThe rerouting of flights is likely to increased flight times are therefore possible. Several airlines have already announced that they will be rerouting flights to avoid the conflict zone, while others are reportedly avoiding Ukrainan airspace altogether. As a result, there are likely to be changes to flight schedules; travellers should account for possible delays if flying through the region in the coming hours and days.If separatists groups are responsible, it is likely a case of mistaken identity and there are no indications that armed groups in Ukraine have intentionally targeted commercial airliners. Unknown groups have fired missiles at three Ukrainian military aircraft in the past several days, most recently a Ukrainian combat aircraft was shot down near Amvrosiyivka (Donetsk province) on 16 July – Ukrainian officials accused Russia of being behind the incident.The incident may trigger small-scale and peaceful protests in Malaysia over the coming days, particularly in the vicinity of Russian embassy and consulates as that country may be blamed for the incident. Gatherings are particularly likely in Kuala Lampur (Malaysia) on 18 July, which is both a Friday (the start of the Islamic weekend) and the twentieth day of Ramadan (a celebratory occasion). Travellers should exercise caution near likely protest locations and avoid all demonstrations as a general security precaution.Travel Advice Summary

  • Managers should confirm if staff were travelling on flight MH017. Contact Malaysia Airlines at +603 7884 1234 for further information.
  • Travellers should allow for possible minor delays to arrival/landing time at destinations caused by rerouting, and confirm arrangements for onward travel on arrival.
  • We do not hold specific information on flights. Travellers should contact their carrier for specific information on potential delays and increased travel times.
  • Members in Malaysia should liaise with local contacts for further information on any related protest activity and avoid all such gatherings as a precaution. These may break out with little to no notice; leave an area at the first sign of unrest.
  • Monitor our travel security alerts for further information.

 

18 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Mid East & N Africa: Launch of Israeli ground operations into Gaza likely to prompt retaliatory rocket fire, protests (Revised 18 Jul)The launch of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) ground operations against the Gaza Strip (Palestinian Territories) late on 17 July underscores our advice to defer all travel to Gaza and locations within 25 miles (45km) of the Gaza border. Although IDF officials claim that the ground forces will target tunnels between Gaza and Israel, Israeli prime minister’s office has stated that operations may be expanded to other areas of Gaza and that they plan to recruit 18,000 additional reservists. The most recent escalation of hostilities between Israel and militants based in Gaza is likely to prompt retaliatory rocket fire into Israel as well as potentially violent protests in the coming days. Travel elsewhere can continue, though travellers should continue to monitor developments closely and avoid all demonstrations as a basic security precaution.Travel BriefingJourneys to Gaza should be avoided due to the EXTREME risks associated with travel there and the likelihood of further IDF airstrikes amid the launch of ground operations. Although IDF operations typically focus on militant targets, the impact of these raids commonly extends beyond the original targets, and given the high density of population and built-up residential areas in Gaza, commonly incurs civilian casualties, posing serious security risks to travellers in the vicinity.The initiation of IDF ground operations is likely to trigger further retaliatory rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, though the Iron Dome missile defence system has been deployed around major populated centres to intercept incoming rockets. There is also the potential for tit-for-tat small rocket fire by militant groups from Lebanon, Syria and Egypt in the coming days, though most rockets are unguided and relatively unsophisticated and are unlikely to result in significant damage or major casualties.Disruptive and potentially violent protests against Israel’s ground invasion in Gaza are likely in the coming days, and are particularly likely to be unruly following Friday prayers on 18 July. These are likely to focus on the West Bank, Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem and Arab Israeli towns. Possible flashpoints of violence between protesters and IDF include the areas surrounding the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem’s Old City and in the predominantly Palestinian neighbourhoods of Shufat, Beit Hanina, Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and Issawiya (East Jerusalem). Unruly protests are also possible in the West Bank cities of Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and the vicinity of checkpoints with Israel, particularly at the Qalandia checkpoint near Ramallah. Members should avoid all demonstrations and potential flashpoints and vacate an area at the first sign of unrest.Travellers should continue to monitor developments closely and refer to our 17 July report for more robust travel advice.Travel Advice SummaryIsrael

  • Continue to avoid all travel to locations within 25 miles (40km) of the border with Gaza. If travelling regardless, monitor events closely during your stay in these areas and familiarise yourself with the local emergency procedures. Travel elsewhere can continue.
  • In the event of rocket fire, follow the advice and instructions from the emergency services and civil authorities. Know what to do when you hear air raid warnings, and familiarise yourself with the location of the nearest air raid shelters. For further information on what to do during a rocket attack, visit the IDF Home Front Command website.
  • Avoid all protests and potential flashpoints, particularly following Friday prayers on 18 July, due to the credible risk of violence.
  • Vacate an area immediately if a crowd or large group of security personnel begins to gather.

Palestinian Territories

  • Avoid all travel to Gaza.
  • Travel to the West Bank can continue with enhanced security precautions. Ensure that you are briefed prior to travel on the prevailing risks and necessary mitigating measures, and are fully confident in your accommodation, transport and security arrangements.
  • Avoid all protests and potential flashpoints, particularly following Friday prayers on 18 July, due to the credible risk of violence.
  • Liaise with local contacts to stay apprised of further developments and potential developments.

Travel risk managers

  • Ensure that you have access to an up-to-date contact list for all travellers and expatriates in or intending to travel to Israel and the Palestinian Territories in the coming days.

 

17 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Afghanistan: Kabul: Stand-off between insurgents, security forces in vicinity of Kabul airport ends; reconfirm flights (Revised 06.28 GMT)

An insurgent attack on 17 July on the northern (military) side of the capital’s Kabul International Airport (KBL) ended at around 09.00 (local time), with all assailants killed by the security forces. No other casualties have been reported. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the incident, which underlines the EXTREME risks associated with travel to Kabul, and the country as a whole due to pervasive militant activity, and underscores our advice to avoid all non-essential travel to Afghanistan.The assault began at around 04.30 when at least six insurgents armed with rocket propelled grenades occupied an under-construction building on Qasaba road, north of the aiport, from which they engaged in a shoot-out with the security forces. Reports suggest that a car bomb was detonated during the attack, though this has not been corroborated. Flights to and from the airport were suspended or diverted to other cities.Travel BriefingAlthough the situation has stabilised, follow-up security and emergency operations will necessitate ongoing traffic restrictions and stringent security checks in the area in the coming hours. Where practical, travellers should continue to avoid the vicinity of the airport and follow all directives issued by the security forces. Staff intending to fly into or out of Kabul airport in the coming hours should reconfirm the status of their flight with the relevant airline and be prepared to modify travel plans accordingly.Militants frequently target airports in Kabul and other cities in rocket attacks, though most such projectiles land in open areas. Such strikes do not always result in casualties, but may cause damage and disruption. Taliban insurgents early on 16 July fired two rockets from the Deh Sabz area of the capital towards Kabul airport; one of the projectiles targeted a military installation inside the facility while the other landed outside the compound; no casualties or damage was reported. Previously, two rockets fired from the Deh Sabz area towards the airport on 3 July prompted the temporary suspension of flights; the projectiles struck the airport’s military section and caused a fire at one of the military hangars.A variety of militant organisations, including the Taliban, have the capability to carry out attacks in Kabul and elsewhere. Members intending to conduct essential travel to Afghanistan are reminded to seek professional security support and ensure they are fully briefed on the prevailing threats prior to travelling. While most insurgent operations are focused on the security forces and government officials, both Afghan and foreign, strikes against ‘soft’ targets, such as shopping centres, cinemas and marketplaces, do occur periodically. Foreign travellers, including civilians, face significant direct and indirect risks from militant attacks, due to which they should minimise time spent in the vicinity of potential targets, both stationary and in transit.Travel Advice Summary

  • Travel to major cities in Afghanistan should be for essential purposes only.
  • We do not hold information on specific flights. If scheduled to fly into or out of Kabul airport in the coming hours, reconfirm the status of your flight with the relevant airline and be prepared to modify your travel plans accordingly.
  • Anticipate increased security measures and associated traffic restrictions in the vicinity of the airport while follow-up security operations and investigations are carried out. Comply with all directives issued by the authorities.
  • Essential travel to the country requires flexible itineraries, detailed preparation and dedicated local security support; ensure that you are fully briefed on the prevailing threats prior to deployment.
  • There is a persistent and significant risk of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. Minimise movement outside secure premises and time spent in the vicinity of potential targets, both stationary and in transit.
  • Be prepared to respond appropriately in the event of an attack or a security incident. If caught in the vicinity of an attack, stand fast in a secure location until the situation stabilises. Move only if in immediate danger or to reach a secure location. Comply with instructions issued by the security forces.
  • Prior to travel, carefully consider and plan accommodation, transport, communications and itinerary options in the context of prevailing threats. While communication networks in urban centres are reliable, use multiple providers and have satellite telephones available as back-up.
  • The above advice is not exhaustive. It is necessary to seek itinerary- and profile-specific expert and professional security support prior to travel in Afghanistan; please contact your nearest Assistance Centre for further information.

 

13 Jul 2014

Special Advisory – Libya: Tripoli: Heavy fighting reported near airport, Janzour area; defer travel until further notice (Revised 09.50 GMT)There has been heavy fighting in the capital Tripoli since early on 13 July, with Airport Road, Tripoli International Airport (TIP) and areas west of the city centre all acutely affected; casualty figures are not known. Several international airlines have cancelled flights. Members should defer travel to Tripoli, while those already in the city should continue to stand fast until further notice.Most reports suggest that militias from Misrata (Misrata district) and the Islamist political blocs were behind the initial attack on the airport, which started at around 06.00 (local time) and included heavy rocket and small arms fire. In addition, numerous checkpoints have reportedly been set up across the city, many reportedly by local residents rather than militias, and are severely restricting movement in some areas.Travel BriefingThe clashes are likely to relate to the continuing rivalry between pro- and anti-Islamist forces. Given the deployment in Tripoli of armed personnel on both sides, and the speed with which they can be reinforced, fighting in the capital and at the airport is likely to continue. No area of the city, where the travel risks have long been rated as HIGH, should be considered immune to further violence.The fighting erupted as Zintan-based militias, which have controlled Tripoli’s main airport since the civil conflict ended in 2011, were reportedly scheduled to hand over control of the facility to the Libyan military. The city’s other airport, Mitiga (MJI), was handed over on 12 July. The hostilities, and the rapid erection of checkpoints across the city, highlight the need for members in Tripoli to maintain robust stand-fast provisions.The country’s political situation remains uncertain following the 25 June parliamentary elections, which have not yet produced a clear outcome. There have also been rumours of a planned effort by Islamist militias to ‘liberate’ the capital on 18 July – the 20th day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the third anniversary of the fall of Tripoli. While the latest fighting could be unrelated, elevated tensions will make 18 July a sensitive potential flashpoint.Other affected areasWhile information remains difficult to verify, there are reports of clashes having broken out early on 13 July in the following areas:

  • The Janzour district, west of central Tripoli; the district is reportedly locked down
  • The Hai al-Andalus district, west of central Tripoli, where heavy fighting has been heard
  • An explosion reportedly occurred in the al-Akwakh neighbourhood
  • Reports of fighting near city centre ministry buildings cannot be corroborated.

Travel Advice Summary

  • Defer all travel to Tripoli until the situation stabilises.
  • All members already in Tripoli should stand fast until further notice; move only if under critical threat and after consulting your local security support.
  • Avoid the vicinity of the airport, Airport Road and other areas known to be affected until the situation clarifies. Travellers present at the airport should comply with all directives issued by the authorities. We do not hold information on specific flights; reconfirm the status of your flight with the relevant airline.
  • Review and look to enhance your preparedness to evacuate Tripoli should the need arise. Evacuation preparedness should cater for the potential need to stand fast for up to 72 hours.
  • Comply with instructions issued by the security forces/militia. Treat security force personnel that you encounter with patience and respect. Carry relevant identification at all times to ease passage through security checkpoints. Do not attempt to cross checkpoints or roadblocks without the express permission of those manning them.

 

 

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