ASIA China (Security threat level – 3): On 23 November...
United States (Security threat level – 2): On 5 March 2022, a severe weather system swept through central areas of the state of Iowa, spawning tornadoes in the region. The tornadoes downed trees and power lines and destroyed a number of buildings. In Madison County, a tornado struck an area near the town of Winterset during the late afternoon hours and killed six people. At least four others suffered injuries. Another tornado swept through the town of Chariton, located in Lucas County, approximately one hour later. At least person was killed in Chariton and several others were injured. Elsewhere in Iowa, weather-related damage was reported in the eastern Des Moines suburb of Norwalk.
France (Security threat level – 3): On 6 March 2022, thousands of demonstrators gathered on the island of Corsica in support of an imprisoned pro-independence militant who suffered serious injuries in a 2 March attack by another inmate. The separatist leader was imprisoned for life in 2009 for killing the island’s police chief in 1998. Local officials estimate that approximately 4,200 people participated in the demonstration. Clashes took place between protesters and police officers as the rally was ending. Police officers fired tear gas and water cannons at the demonstrators, who threw stones and other projectiles. At least 25 people sustained injuries during the clashes, including four police officers. Authorities arrested four people.
Russia (Security threat level – 4): As of 7 March 2022, overall operating conditions in Russia continue to deteriorate due to tightening economic sanctions related to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Payment card firms Visa and Mastercard announced the suspension of operations in Russia in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Transactions conducted in Russia with Visa or Mastercard will no longer be supported, and cards issued outside of Russia will no longer work inside the country. Additionally, the state-owned airline Aeroflot announced the temporary suspension of all international passenger and cargo flights beginning at 0000 local time (2100 UTC) on 8 March because of international sanctions on the carrier’s ability to operate. The announcement noted that international passenger flights to neighboring Belarus will continue to operate normally. No date for resumption of operations was included in the announcement.
Also on 6 March, thousands of people were detained for participating in anti-war protests throughout several cities in Russia. In Moscow, an estimated 2,500 people participated in anti-war demonstrations near the city center. Security personnel detained at least 1,700 people. In the northwestern city of St. Petersburg — located near Russia’s northeastern border with Finland — more than 750 people were arrested for participating in unauthorized protests. In the interior city of Yekaterinburg, social media videos showed police officers in anti-riot gear physically assaulting protesters and subsequently detaining them. According to a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, approximately 3,500 people were arrested in over 50 cities across the country.
UnitedHealthcare Global has raised the threat level for Russia to 4 (High) from 3 (Medium) in view of the ongoing Russian military invasion of Ukraine and the increasingly hostile rhetoric from Russian officials regarding international sanctions on the Russian government and its related entities. The U.S. government maintains a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for Russia due to the potential for harassment of U.S. citizens by Russian security officials, the possibility of arbitrary detention, and the U.S. Department of State’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow previously urged U.S. citizens in Russia to evacuate the country by available commercial means due to the dwindling number of departing flight options out of Russia.
Ukraine (Security threat level – 5): Russian forces in Ukraine intensified their attacks on major Ukrainian cities over the weekend of 5-6 March 2022. Russian attacks have increasingly targeted civilian areas and infrastructure, and there have been corresponding reports of an increase in civilian fatalities. Russian troops are mounting an offensive as they advance on the capital Kyiv, with emerging reports on 7 March indicating intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces to the north and west of Kyiv. Meanwhile, Russia has proposed potential evacuation routes for civilians fleeing the conflict, which would allow for safe passage to Belarus from Kyiv and to Russia from the second-largest Ukrainian city Kharkiv. Ukraine’s deputy prime minister stated that the proposal was unacceptable, as the evacuation routes lead to Russia and its ally Belarus. According to the U.N. High commissioner for human rights in Ukraine, 406 civilians were killed from 24 February to 6 March and 801 other civilians have been injured. The agency maintains that the actual casualty figures are much higher than those reported.
On the diplomatic front, the third round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators is currently underway at an undisclosed location in Belarus. A Ukrainian representative urged Russia to halt attacks on civilians shortly before the talks commenced. The previous two rounds concluded without any significant breakthroughs toward achieving a ceasefire.
Haiti (Security threat level – 5): On 4 March 2022, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “There continues to be a high threat of violent crime and kidnapping throughout Port-au-Prince, to include the Tabarre neighborhood. The U.S. Embassy has restricted non-official travel of its direct-hire U.S. citizen staff to the immediate Embassy area for security reasons. Additionally, the U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that kidnapping is widespread, and victims regularly include U.S. citizens. Kidnappers may use sophisticated planning or take advantage of unplanned opportunities, and even convoys have been attacked. Kidnapping cases often involve ransom negotiations, and U.S. citizen victims have been physically harmed during kidnappings. Victims’ families have paid thousands of dollars to rescue their family members.
“Violent crime, such as armed robbery and carjacking, is common. Travelers are sometimes followed and violently attacked and robbed shortly after leaving the Port-au-Prince international airport. Robbers and carjackers also attack private vehicles stuck in heavy traffic congestion and often target lone drivers, particularly women. As a result, the U.S. Embassy requires its personnel to use official transportation to and from the airport.”
Russia (Security threat level – 4): On 6 March 2022, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued a Security Alert regarding Russia’s new media law, which reads in part as follows: “On March 4, Russian President Putin signed into law a bill criminalizing the spread of information Russia authorities deem as “false information” that contradicts the Russian narrative of its military actions in Ukraine. Persons found guilty of violating the law face up to 15 years in prison and additional fines. Also, the Russia government censorship agency blocked access to social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, and restricted access in Russia to international news outlets. The security situation in Russia can change without notice. U.S. citizens living and traveling in Russia should depart immediately.
“The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that the Department of State’s Travel Advisory level for Russia is at “Level 4: Do Not Travel” due to the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials, the Embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, limited flights into and out of Russia, and the arbitrary enforcement of local law. Click here for the full text of the Travel Advisory for Russia.”
Sudan (Security threat level – 5): On 7 March 2022, the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:”Acts of civil disobedience are expected to take place today, March 7th, and tomorrow, March 8th, in the early afternoon in Khartoum and potentially in other states. This may include centralized or decentralized demonstrations, road blockages by protesters, and business closures. Security forces may close bridges. Unannounced protests and other acts of civil disobedience may continue to take place in the coming weeks, in addition to larger organized protests.”