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May 20, 2021


Colombia (Security threat level – 4): Nationwide demonstrations over income inequality, police brutality and youth unemployment are expected to continue for a 23rd consecutive day on 20 May 2021. The National Strike Committee continues to call for protests despite scheduling another round of negotiations with the government in Bogotá on 20 May.

On 19 May protesters clashed with police officers in Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Caucasia and Medellín. In the capital Bogotá, police officers deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse approximately 1,000 protesters who had gathered at the Portal Américas metro station, after some of the protesters began throwing rocks and other projectiles at officers. In the south of the city, at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, approximately 1,000 people blocked Avenida la Esperanza and Avenida Cali. According to the mayor’s office, approximately 8,000 people participated in the Bogotá demonstrations, which remained peaceful until the evening hours.

In the northern city of Bucaramanga, police officers deployed tear gas and stun grenades during clashes with protesters at the Industrial University of Santander, injuring at least 20 people. Security forces also reportedly deployed tear gas into crowds of protesters at the intersection of Carrera 33 and Calle 34 in northeast Bucaramanga. In the town of Caucasia, protesters attacked police officers with stones, Molotov cocktails and other projectiles when the officers attempted to remove a roadblock, injuring six officers. In Medellín, police officers deployed tear gas and flash bangs to disperse a group of approximately 300 demonstrators gathered near the University of Antioquia after the demonstrators attempted to block Avenida Regional. At least 35 people were injured in the clashes.

Colombia (Security threat level – 4): On 19 May 2021, the Colombian government reopened its land and maritime borders with Brazil, Ecuador, Panama and Peru. However, its border with Venezuela remains closed until further notice. The Colombian government closed these borders in March 2020 in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Mexico (Security threat level – 4): Throughout the evening of 19 May 2021, persistent heavy winds and rains battered parts of Tamaulipas state, resulting in flooding and power outages in the border cities Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo. In Reynosa, the mayor advised residents to avoid flooded areas and drains while emergency personnel assessed the damage from the storm. In Nuevo Laredo, at least three people were killed and buildings in more than 20 neighborhoods sustained damage. Although power outages reportedly affected over 150,000 residents throughout the city, 75% of residents have since regained electricity. Quetzalcóatl International Airport (MMNL/NLD), located in Nuevo Laredo, will remain closed for 10 to 15 days due to damage sustained to the building and control tower, according to the city’s mayor. Drinking water outages are likely to persist as treatment plants restore operations. Disruptions at the World Trade Bridge U.S.-Mexico border crossing may also hinder commercial transit.


Japan (Security threat level – 1): On 19 May 2021, authorities announced that foreign travelers from Cambodia, Mongolia, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor Leste will be banned from entering Japan from 21 May until further notice in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. Anyone who has been to the aforementioned countries within 14 days prior to traveling to Japan will be denied entry. Permanent residents and Japanese citizens are exempt from the order. However, all foreign travelers who have been to Sri Lanka — including permanent residents — will be denied entry, as the government has classified it as a high-risk country for the spread of new COVID-19 variants.


Israel / Palestinian Territories (Security threat levels – 4 / 4): As of 20 May 2021, Palestinian militants based in the Gaza Strip are continuing to launch sporadic rocket attacks targeting cities in southern Israel, while the Israeli military continues to conduct airstrikes against targets in Gaza. On 20 May, Palestinian militants launched a barrage of rockets toward several cities, including Ashkelon, Eshkol, Be’er Sheva, Levahim and Rahat. Thus far, reports indicate that the rockets have either been intercepted or landed in unpopulated areas, causing no casualties. In addition to the rocket attacks, Palestinian militants on the border with Gaza launched an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) at an Israeli military bus. The bus was empty at the time of the attack but one Israeli soldier was injured by shrapnel. In retaliation for the rocket attacks, Israeli forces conducted airstrikes against targets in the Gaza Strip, targeting a residential building in central Gaza, as well as militant rocket launchers and tunnels.

Thus far, Palestinian officials have not issued updated casualty figures; however, since the beginning of the conflict on 10 May, at least 230 people have been killed in Gaza, while 12 people have been killed in Israel, including three foreign nationals from India and Thailand, nine Israeli civilians and one Israeli soldier.

Meanwhile, tensions also remain high in the West Bank. Palestinian activists in West Bank have called for a “day of rage” on 21 May, and are planning protests against the Israeli occupation following Friday prayers. Additionally, on 19 May, a female Palestinian opened fire on Israeli soldiers near the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba. Israeli forces shot and killed the woman; there were no reports of Israeli casualties in the attack. Tensions also remain high between Arab and Israeli citizens within Israel, particularly in mixed communities such as Jaffa, Haifa and Lod. While there have been no reports of significant clashes since 16 May, Israeli paramilitary border police units remain deployed across mixed communities. Additionally, Israeli public safety authorities reported on 19 May that applications for firearm licenses have increased to 1,930 since 12 May, up from a weekly average of 270 nationwide.


Chad (Security threat level – 5): On 19 May 2021, security forces fired tear gas and used batons to disperse anti-government protesters in the capital city N’Djamena. The protesters — primarily opposition activists and civil society members — burned tires and French flags to demonstrate against the Transitional Military Council (CMT) and to protest French support of the ruling military junta that seized power after the death of President Idriss Deby. There were no reports of injuries, but at least 30 individuals were arrested as security forces attempted to disperse crowds around the city.

Analyst Comment: While France initially backed the CMT, it later called for a civilian government to take over. During previous anti-government protests in late April and early May, violent clashes resulted in at least five fatalities. Opposition activists and civil society leaders continue to call for demonstrations against the CMT, but have postponed events due to recent clashes.


Ethiopia (Security threat level – 4): On 20 May 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The U.S. Embassy is monitoring calls on social media for protests at several embassies around Addis Ababa, including the U.S. Embassy, tomorrow, Friday May 21. Out of an abundance of caution, we have cancelled consular services tomorrow and ask that you stay away from the Embassy. For American Citizen Services questions, please contact us at AddisACS@state.gov.”

The full text of the alert is available here.


Ireland (Security threat level – 2): On 19 May 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for Ireland, which reads in part as follows: “If you are arriving into Ireland from overseas or are transiting through an Irish port or airport you must have a negative/‘not detected’ result from a pre-departure Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) COVID-19 test carried out no more than 72 hours prior to your arrival in Ireland. Antigen or other test types do not meet the requirements.”

Malaysia (Security threat level – 3): On 20 May 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur issued a Demonstration Alert regarding a planned protest outside the embassy, which reads in part as follows: “Location: U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur

“Event: An scheduled demonstration on Jalan Tun Razak in front of the U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur on May 21, 2021.

“A protest against the U.S. government is scheduled to occur the afternoon of Friday, May 21, 2021 from 3:00 PM to 5:30 PM on Jalan Tun Razak in front of the U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur.

“Beginning at noon on May 21, 2021, the U.S. Embassy front entrance will be closed to all pedestrian traffic until the completion of the demonstration.”

Sri Lanka (Security threat level – 4): On 19 May 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice regarding international flights, which reads in part as follows: “On 19 May, the government of Sri Lanka announced the temporary suspension of all inbound flight arrivals to Sri Lanka from 21 to 31 May 2021 as a containment measure to control the spread of Coronavirus. However, outbound flights will continue to operate during this period.”