AMERICAS Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On the evening...
Canada (Security threat level – 2): On 15 December 2021, the Public Health Agency of Canada reinstated a global travel advisory urging Canadians to avoid nonessential international travel — regardless of vaccination status — due to the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19. The advice against nonessential travel outside Canada was previously annulled on 21 October. Further information as outlined by the agency is available here.
Dominican Republic (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1700 local time (2100 UTC) on 15 December 2021, a private aircraft carrying seven passengers and two crew members crashed while making an emergency landing at Las Américas International Airport (MDSD/SDQ), located near the capital Santo Domingo. The Miami-bound Gulfstream IV aircraft, with registration HI1050, had departed La Isabela International Airport (MDJB/JBQ) shortly before it reported an emergency. All nine people on board the aircraft, including six foreign nationals, were killed in the crash. Las Americas airport temporarily suspended all inbound and outbound flights following the event. The cause of the crash is unknown.
United States (Security threat level – 2): On 15 December 2021, a severe weather system swept through the central region of the United States, downing trees and utility poles and causing significant power outages in multiple states. Wind gusts of up to 100 mph (160 kph) were recorded in select areas. As of the morning of 16 December, more than 500,000 homes and businesses across the region were without electricity. In the state of Missouri, the air traffic control tower at Kansas City International Airport (KMCI/MCI) was evacuated for nearly one hour during the evening of 15 December, halting flight operations. Flights to and from Iowa’s Des Moines International Airport (KDSM/DSM) were also disrupted. Thus far, there have been reports of at least one weather-related fatality that occurred when a vehicle crashed on U.S. Highway 151 in Iowa due to strong winds.
Malaysia (Security threat level – 3): On 16 December 2021, authorities in Malaysia implemented tighter COVID-19 restrictions as the country recorded a second confirmed case of the omicron variant of COVID-19. The measures include a ban on large holiday gatherings and mandatory booster vaccinations by February 2022 for adults over the age of 60, as well as anyone over 18 years of age who received the Sinovac vaccine. Additionally, large gatherings for New Year’s and Christmas celebrations are prohibited. Although private holiday gatherings are permitted, attendees must administer a COVID-19 self-test beforehand.
Philippines (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 1330 local time (0530 UTC) on 16 December 2021, Typhoon Rai — known locally as Odette — made landfall over Siargao Island, located in Surigao del Norte province, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Approximately 100,000 people along the path of the storm have been evacuated to emergency shelters. According to PAGASA, Rai was moving west at 30 kph (19 mph) while generating maximum sustained winds of 195 kph, with gusts of up to 240 kph. On its current path, the storm is expected to reach the vicinity of the Sibonga municipality in Cebu province at approximately 2300 local time. As of 1700 local time, the storm was located approximately 750 km southeast of the capital Manila. Rai made a second landfall on the Dinagat Islands and a subsequent third landfall on Panaon Island. Severe flooding and power outages have been reported in areas such as Cagayan de Oro, while authorities have warned of strong winds and heavy rainfall across the central areas of the country through at least 18 December. Nevertheless, there have been no reports of significant injuries or fatalities. In related developments, Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and AirAsia have canceled dozens of flights through 17 December due to the storm.
France / United Kingdom (Security threat levels – 3 / 3): On 16 December 2021, French authorities enacted a ban on nonessential travel from the U.K. due to a rise in cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19. Subsequently, as of 0000 local time on 18 December (2300 UTC on 17 December), most foreigners coming from the U.K., including those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, will be allowed to enter France only for reasons deemed essential. Exemptions include immediate family members of French citizens, European nationals and permanent residents of France. All incoming travelers from the U.K. must present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test taken within 24 hours before travel and self-isolate for seven days upon arrival. The self-isolation period may end after 48 hours if a COVID-19 test taken in France yields negative results. Further information as outlined by the Consulate General of France in London is available here.
Libya (Security threat level – 5): On 16 December 2021, an official with Libya’s electoral commission stated that it is not possible to hold the presidential election as currently scheduled for 24 December. The comment followed an incident during the evening of 15 December in which gunmen launched an assault and took control of the headquarters of the National Unity Government and Ministry of Defense buildings in the capital Tripoli. The Presidential Guard withdrew from the area, avoiding confrontation. The militia members, reported to be from the city of Misrata and elsewhere in western Libya, oppose the decision to allow Khalifa Haftar and Saif al-Islam Gaddafi — the son of former President Mu’ammar Gaddafi — to run for presidentcontest in the president election. The armed groups were also seeking a postponement of the upcoming presidential election. No injuries were reported duer to the attack, and no hostages appear to have been taken. It is not clear if the buildings were occupied by anyone other than security personnel who retreated at the time.
Analyst Comment: It is unknown whether unclear if the reason for the electoral commission official’s statement regarding the election was made in relation to the militia takeover of the National Unity Government headquarters. There are other existing issues thatwhich would have likely resulted in the postponement of the upcoming presidential election. The country’s electoral commission has not released a list of presidential candidates due to legal challenges regarding the candidacies of several individuals — including Saif Gaddafi and Khalifa Haftar. Previously, gunmen raided the Electoral Administration Office in Tripoli and several nearby towns on 1 December and stole voter cards in a likely effort to halt the election. Numerous other disagreements exist between western Libya’s politicians and the country’s eastern parliament about the election process, which have also have yet to be resolved.