Sierra Leone (Security threat level – 4): As of 11 August 2022, a nationwide nightly curfew from 1900-0700 local time/UTC is in effect in Sierra Leone, following violent anti-government protests the previous day. At least six police officers and 13 civilians were reportedly killed in the violence. Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh imposed the nationwide curfew on 10 August in an effort to quell the protests and associated violence in the capital Freetown. In the city’s eastern Wellington area, protesters burned tires and debris in the streets and engaged in clashes with police officers. Meanwhile, demonstrators obstructed traffic and marched on Blackhall Road calling for the resignation of President Julius Maada Bio due to worsening economic conditions in the country. There is a heavy security presence in Freetown, as authorities have deployed additional security personnel throughout the city. Internet connectivity was severely restricted throughout Freetown for most of the day in an attempt to slow down coordination of the quickly spreading protests. Associated protests also occurred in other cities in the country, including Makeni.
Despite the nationwide curfew and government officials’ pleas for calm, protesters defied the curfew order and remained in the streets of Freetown. Police officers fired live ammunition into the air in an attempt to restore order, and several reports allege that police officers fired live ammunition at protesters.
Analyst Comment: Protests, strikes and other acts of civil disobedience are likely to continue in the near-term due to general dissatisfaction with the rising cost of living and the government’s inability to quickly address the situation. Additional anti-riot initiatives — including internet restrictions and the implementation of a state of emergency — are possible if more residents join the largely unorganized youth-led demonstrations.
China / United Kingdom (Security threat levels – 4 / 3): On 10 August 2022, the Chinese and U.K. governments agreed to the resumption of direct passenger flights after a nearly two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Air China — one of the largest Chinese carriers — announced flights from Beijing to London every Thursday and flights from Shanghai to London every Saturday as of 11 August. Additionally, China Southern Airlines will offer passenger flights from Guangzhou to London every Wednesday beginning on 17 August. Airlines plan to announce additional flight routes at a later date.
France (Security threat level – 3): As of 11 August 2022, a wildfire burning in the Gironde department has consumed approximately 6,600 hectares (16,460 acres) of land and has spread to the department of Landes, while seven other major forest fires have broken out in the Aveyron, Drôme, Jura, Lozère and Maine-et-Loire departments. Nearly 10,000 residents have been evacuated since the previous day and authorities closed the A63 highway in both directions due to low visibility. Approximately 1,100 firefighters, equipped with two helicopters and nine other firefighting aircraft, were deployed to contain the blazes, and authorities will deploy additional reinforcements in the coming days due to dry weather conditions and high temperatures.
Lebanon (Security threat level – 5): At approximately 1200 local time (0900 UTC) on 11 August 2022, an armed man took approximately 10 individuals hostage at a branch of Federal Bank in the upscale Hamra business district of Beirut, the capital. The individual — carrying a firearm and a canister of gasoline — demanded his frozen bank deposits be returned to him. The man fired at least three warning shots. Authorities have cordoned off the area near the bank. The situation is ongoing.
Analyst Comment: Banks in Lebanon have allowed only limited withdrawals for most depositors for the past three years, leaving many depositors unable to access their funds.