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December 10, 2020


Taiwan (Security threat level – 1): At approximately 2120 local time (1320 UTC) on 10 December 2020, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the northeastern coast of Taiwan approximately 25 km (15 mi) east of Yilan county, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake occurred at a depth of 73 km. Light to moderate shaking was reported throughout the northern half of the island, including the capital Taipei. Thus far, there have been no reports of significant damage or injuries.


Australia (Security threat level – 2): As of 1700 local time (0900 UTC) on 10 December 2020, Tropical Cyclone Three was located approximately 850 km (530 mi) north-northwest of Learmonth, Western Australia, and was moving southeast at 22 kph (14 mph), according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At that time, the cyclone was generating maximum sustained winds of 65 kph, with gusts of up to 83 kph. On its current forecast path, the storm is expected to make landfall near Port Hedland in Western Australia by 11 December. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has warned of heavy rainfall and potentially damaging winds throughout the Pilbara region beginning on the evening of 10 December and continuing through 11 December as the storm approaches the region.


Albania (Security threat level – 3): Demonstrators are expected to gather in the capital Tirana later on 10 December 2020 to protest the death of a 25-year-old man, whom police officers shot and killed in the early hours of 8 December for violating a nightly curfew imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19. Authorities urged demonstrators to abide by the 2200-0600 local time (1900-0500 UTC) nightly curfew and other existing restrictions, including a ban on public gatherings of more than 10 people, and face mask and social distancing measures, ahead of the planned gathering. The plea follows violent demonstrations in the city center area on 9 December, during which protesters clashed with police officers on Boulevard Deshmoret e Kombit and attempted to enter the nearby main government building and Interior Ministry building. Demonstrators threw objects at the ministry building, broke windows and set fire to holiday decorations in the area. Police officers fired tear gas at protesters and arrested at least three people who allegedly organized the gathering. Two demonstrators and 16 police officers were injured in the violence.

Belarus (Security threat level – 3): On 10 December 2020, Belarusian authorities announced that they will close the country’s land borders to all outbound travelers, effective as of 20 December. The closure will prohibit citizens, residents and foreign nationals from crossing the land borders — with exceptions allowed only for those traveling for education, business trips, diplomatic purposes, or emergency situations. Authorities had previously restricted the entry of foreign nationals via the land borders. Arrivals and departures through Minsk National Airport (UMMS/MSQ) will remain unaffected.

Analyst Comment: While the order attributes the border closure to the need to control the spread of COVID-19, Belarusian officials do not maintain other stringent restrictions and President Alexander Lukashenko has been largely dismissive of the virus. Opposition leaders, who have been staging demonstrations against Lukashenko’s 9 August reelection, stated that the government announced the closure to restrict the movement of opposition politicians and dissidents, several of whom have recently fled to neighboring countries in order to avoid a crackdown in Belarus.

Ukraine (Security threat level – 4): On 9 December 2020, authorities extended nationwide quarantine measures until 28 February 2021 to limit the spread of COVID-19.  Under the measures, bars, cafes and restaurants are required to close between 2200-0700 local time (0000-0900 UTC) and public events are restricted to a maximum of 20 people. Meanwhile, face masks are mandatory on public transportation and when in indoor public places.


Côte d’Ivoire (Security threat level – 4): On 9 December 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan issued a Security Alert regarding threats to travelers during the holiday season, which reads in part as follows: “The U.S. Embassy is aware of credible terrorist threats against facilities and commercial venues frequented by Westerners in and around Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, during the holiday season. In response, the U.S. Embassy has increased its security posture and advised its personnel to maintain heightened awareness while engaged in daily activities. U.S. citizens are also advised to exercise increased caution while in country. Routine operations at the U.S. Embassy remain suspended due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.”

Niger (Security threat level – 5): On 9 December 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Niamey issued an Alert regarding upcoming elections, which reads in part as follows:

“Event: The 2020 elections in Niger are scheduled for December 13 and 27.

“U.S. citizens in Niger should heighten awareness and caution during the election period. There is an increased possibility of protests, marches, or rallies related to political activities occurring in Niamey and throughout Niger. These types of activities may increase the risk of violence, civil crime, and COVID-19 transmission. U.S. citizens should avoid demonstrations and crowds and take proper precautions against the spread of COVID-19.

“Sunday, December 13, 2020: Local and Regional Elections

“Sunday, December 27, 2020: Legislative & First Round Presidential Elections

“Sunday, February 21, 2021: Presidential Election Second Round, if needed”

The full text of the alert is available here.

Sierra Leone (Security threat level – 4): On 9 December 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Freetown issued a Security Alert regarding the upcoming rerun of parliamentary elections, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: The area of western rural Freetown which includes Hamilton, Mambo Village, and Tokeh, River No. 2 and Mama beaches, Sierra Leone

“Event: On Saturday, December 12 the re-run parliamentary elections will be held for constituency 110. U.S. Embassy Freetown recommends maintaining awareness. This recommendation is being given out of an abundance of caution and the potential for rapid and unpredictable situations to develop. To date, there is no specific or general reporting that indicates violence will occur.”

The full text of the alert is available here.