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

 

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 Briefing

While 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.

Background

A 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 Changes

YEMEN: 30 JUL 2014

We 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 Briefing

No 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 Briefing

The 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 Briefing

These 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 Summary

Travellers 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 Summary

Israel

  • 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 areas

While 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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