AFRICA Ghana (Security threat level – 3): On 28 June...
Mexico (Security threat level – 4): On 6 August 2021, federal officials reverted coronavirus-related restrictions to a maximum-risk “red” designation on Mexico’s four-tier Traffic Light Monitoring System for the states of Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, Nayarit, Nuevo León and Sinaloa, as well as for the capital Mexico City, due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Under the designation, hotels and public squares are limited to 25% of maximum capacity; restaurants and hair salons can only offer delivery services; and gyms, shopping malls, churches and museums must close altogether. Only one person per family at a time can shop at markets and supermarkets, which must operate at no more than 50% capacity. Mexico City officials have pushed back on the “red” designation and have instead stated that they will enforce slightly less restrictive coronavirus-related restrictions reserved for locations with the second highest “orange” designation. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City provides further information regarding coronavirus-related measures in Mexico, which is available here.
Japan (Security threat level – 1): As of 1800 local time (0900 UTC) on 9 August 2021, Tropical Storm Lupit was located approximately 360 km (225 mi) northeast of Iwakuni and was moving northeast at 28 kph (17 mph), according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At that time, Lupit was generating maximum sustained winds of 74 kph, with gusts of up to 93 kph. On its current forecast path, the storm is expected to make landfall along the border of Akita and Yamagata prefectures during the early hours of 10 August. Authorities have also predicted rainfall of up to 200 mm (8 in) in the Tokai region of the main island Honshu, through at least 10 August. Other areas of Honshu are expected to receive between 100 and 1,800 mm of rainfall.
Lupit made its first landfall in Japan in the Kyushu region on 8 August before making a second landfall in Hiroshima prefecture the following day. At least one person is missing after being swept away by flood waters, but there have been no reports of casualties or significant damage. As a precaution, authorities have suspended some transportation services, such as the Shinkansen Sanyo line between Shin-Onomichi and Higashihiroshima stations.
United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): As of 0400 local time (0300 UTC) on 8 August 2021, the U.K. Department for Transport had altered the placement of countries on its traffic-light system for foreign travel, which determines coronavirus-related entry requirements for travelers to England. Mexico, Georgia and the French overseas territories of Mayotte and Reunion have been moved to the “red list,” a designation that requires individuals allowed to enter England from those countries to quarantine at government-approved hotels for 10 days and to take PCR tests on the second and eighth days of the quarantine period. Foreign travelers — except Irish nationals and individuals with residency rights in the U.K. — who have visited countries on the red list during the previous 10 days remain subject to an entry ban. At the same time, Bahrain, India, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were moved to the “amber list.” Individuals fully inoculated for COVID-19 with vaccines authorized and administered in Europe, the U.K. or the U.S. and arriving from countries on the amber list, are exempt from the self-quarantine requirement. This exemption now also applies to travelers arriving in England from France. However, even fully vaccinated individuals are required to take a PCR test on or before the second day of their arrival, the same requirement for travelers arriving from countries on the “green list.” Meanwhile, the following countries have been placed on the green list: Austria, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Further details as outlined by the U.K. government are available here.
Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): On 7 August 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using available commercial flight options. Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited even within Kabul.
“The U.S. Embassy can provide a repatriation loan for U.S. citizens who cannot afford at this time to purchase a commercial ticket to the United States. Please contact the Embassy’s American Citizen Services Unit at [email protected] for further information.
“The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that on April 27, 2021, the Department of State ordered the departure from U.S. Embassy Kabul of U.S. government employees whose functions can be performed elsewhere due to increasing violence and threat reports in Kabul. The Travel Advisory for Afghanistan remains Level 4-Do Not Travel due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, armed conflict, and COVID-19. Domestic flights and ground transportation routes outside of Kabul are severely limited and subject to cancellation or closure.
“U.S. citizens should enroll in the Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates and ensure the Embassy can contact you in an emergency. In the event of a future official evacuation flight, the Embassy would notify U.S. citizens enrolled in STEP of available assistance. However, the Embassy reiterates that U.S. citizens should leave Afghanistan as soon as possible using available commercial transportation and not plan to rely on U.S. government flights.
“Information about current travel restrictions world-wide can be found on the International Air Transport Association website.”
Analyst Comment: The security situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate amid an ongoing Taliban offensive and the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO military forces. Meanwhile, the Afghan government has shown an inability to slow the Taliban’s momentum in rural areas as well as in major cities.
On 6 August 2021, the Taliban captured Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz province located along the border with Iran, with minimal resistance. Heavy fighting is also ongoing in the capitals of Helmand, Herat and Kandahar provinces. The Taliban also claimed responsibility on 6 August for assassinating the director of the government media center in the capital Kabul. The assassination follows a 3 August attack claimed by the Taliban that targeted the home of the country’s defense minister, also in Kabul. Although the minister was unharmed due to being elsewhere at the time of the attack, at least eight civilians were killed and 20 more suffered injuries. The offensives directed at provincial capitals, as well as the attacks within Kabul, indicate an increasing assertiveness from the Taliban despite ongoing peace talks between the militant group and the government.
The Taliban leadership has thus far refused to accept the legitimacy of President Ashraf Ghani’s Western-backed government. Without air and ground support of foreign militaries, clashes between government forces and the Taliban are likely to worsen in the coming weeks and months as Taliban forces continue to capture strategic cities and border crossings in the south of the country before making their way north to Kabul.
Brunei (Security threat level – 1): On 8 August 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice regarding lockdown measures, which reads in part as follows: “The Ministry of Health announced a two-week lockdown from Saturday, 7 August 2021. This follows news that a small number of local COVID-19 cases have been detected. The government of Brunei has put into place strict procedures for visitors to all public areas. The public can expect to have their temperature taken, electronically, and must check-in to business premises and government offices using the BruHealth app. Mosques and other places of worship are currently closed. Restaurants and cafes are currently offering take-away services only. Schools will be fully online during this lockdown. Private gatherings are currently limited to 30 persons.”
Greece (Security threat level – 3): On 6 August 2021, the U.S. Mission to Greece issued a Natural Disaster Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The Greek authorities report that there is currently extreme danger for wildfires throughout Greece. U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution in the affected areas, including in Evia, the area of Ancient Olympia in Ilia, Eastern Mani, Fthiotida, and around Kapandriti and Polydendri in the northern suburbs of Athens. Civil Protection authorities are coordinating evacuations from the affected areas. Wildfires are creating additional disruptions in the wider areas, such as power and/or water outages, poor air quality, and road closures.
“With most of Greece under extreme or high risk for fire, be aware that new fires may break out anywhere in the country with little to no warning. The General Secretariat for Civil Protection has announced an Extreme Fire Risk (Category 5 alarm) for Attica, the Peloponnese region, Western Greece (Achaia, Ilia), Central Greece (Evia, Fthiotida, Boeotia, Fokida), Thessaly (Magnesia), and Crete (Chania, Rethymno), and Very High Risk (Category 4) for many additional areas in Greece on August 6, 2021 according to the Daily Fire Risk Map. This high risk of fire is expected to continue in the coming days.
“U.S. citizens living in or traveling near any of the affected areas should follow instructions from local authorities and closely monitor the local media and emergency alerts. Avoid any actions that may cause a fire. Avoid unnecessary travel. Be aware that Greek authorities have prohibited access to forests and forested areas during this time of extreme fire danger.”
The full text of the alert is available here.
Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): On 8 August 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The Embassy has received information that CODECA (Comité de Desarrollo Campesino) will demonstrate across Guatemala on Monday, August 9, from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. CODECA is planning to demonstrate and block roads at the following locations:
“In addition to CODECA, veterans of Guatemala’s armed forces and some student organizations have announced plans to demonstrate, although exact locations are yet to be determined. As always, the timing, size, and duration of planned demonstrations and roadblocks can change.
“U.S. citizens should remain alert to the possibility of demonstrations or road closures occurring at unanticipated times and locations. Demonstrations can quickly grow in size and often move from one location to another, thus potentially disrupting movement.”