Colombia (Security threat level – 4): On 25 May 2021, nationwide demonstrations over income inequality, police brutality and youth unemployment are expected to continue for a 28th consecutive day. The National Strike Committee announced that it is organizing new nationwide demonstrations to be held on 26 and 28 May. The Colombian government and the National Strike Committee reached a preliminary agreement for negotiations on 24 May, the specifics of which must be reviewed and approved by government officials and the National Strike Committee’s assembly. Approval of the preliminary agreement, for which authorities did not provide further information, will permit negotiations on the demands of protest leaders.
On 24 May riot police officers deployed tear gas to disperse protesters who had blocked the South Highway in the city of Soacha, located approximately 25 km (15 mi) southeast of the capital Bogotá. However, cargo and passenger transportation drivers reached an agreement with the mayor of Soacha to lift roadblocks and end demonstrations in the city. In Barranquilla, police officers dispersed motorcycle taxi drivers who were blocking the entrance into the La Paz neighborhood. In Armenia, the capital of Quindio department, police officers dispersed protesters at the University of Quindío with tear gas.
Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 24 May 2021, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse declared a countrywide state of health emergency for eight days in response to a spike in reported COVID-19 cases. During the state of emergency, a nightly curfew is in effect from 2200 to 0500 local time (0200 to 0900 UTC). In addition, face masks are mandatory in public areas and temperature checks are required in all public and private facilities, including hospitals, markets and schools. Individuals are required to maintain a physical distance of 1.5 m (5 ft) in public places.
India (Security threat level – 3): As of 1430 local time (0900 UTC) on 25 May 2021, Tropical Cyclone Yaas was located approximately 410 km (255 mi) south of Kolkata, and was moving north at 16 kph (10 mph), according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At that time, Yaas was generating maximum sustained winds of 111 kph, with gusts of up to 139 kph. On its current forecast path, the storm is expected to make landfall along the border of West Bengal and Odisha states on 26 May.
As a precaution, authorities in Odisha and West Bengal issued evacuation orders for coastal areas of both states. In Odisha state the orders apply to the low-lying coastal districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur. In West Bengal state authorities have ordered evacuations from the districts of South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore. Heavy rainfall and strong winds are expected throughout both states at least through 28 May as Yaas moves farther inland and begins to dissipate.
Malaysia (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 2100 local time (1300 UTC) on 24 May 2021, two trains collided along the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Kelana Jaya Line near the Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC) in the capital Kuala Lumpur. A driver was the only occupant of one of the trains, while the other – a driverless automatic train heading to Kampang Baru station from Gombak, the terminus of the LRT Kelana Jaya line – was carrying passengers. More than 210 people were injured in the crash of light-rail trains 40 and 81, with at least 47 people sustaining serious injuries. On 25 May authorities stated that a preliminary investigation found that the collision was the result of human error; the operator of the unoccupied train was traveling in the wrong direction.
Austria (Security threat level – 2): On 24 May 2021, authorities reinstated a ban on all flights and travelers from the U.K. beginning on 1 June. The ban was previously in place from December 2020 to March 2021. Similar restrictions are already in place for flights from Brazil, India and South Africa to limit the spread of coronavirus variants. Exemptions are in place for Austrian citizens and legal residents, as well as for humanitarian workers and individuals traveling for essential international business reasons. A negative PCR test result is required for those permitted to enter from high-risk countries.
Belarus (Security threat level – 3): On 24 May 2021, EU officials urged European air carriers to avoid Belarusian airspace in response to Belarusian authorities’ forcible diversion of Ryanair flight FR4978 to Minsk and the removal and detention of at least one individual from that aircraft on 23 May. In related developments, officials in the U.K. suspended the Belarusian flagship carrier Belavia’s operating permit and instructed its airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace. Ukrainian authorities also suspended flights to Belarus and ordered their airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace. German carrier Lufthansa independently suspended operations in Belarusian airspace after Lufthansa flight LH 1487 from Minsk to Frankfurt was delayed in Minsk on 24 May due to a terror warning. Likewise, Dutch carrier KLM is rerouting fights to avoid Belarus.
According to Belarusian state media, the Palestinian militant group Hamas was responsible for the bomb threat aboard flight FR4978. Hamas has denied the allegations. Further, Lithuanian officials reported that 126 people had boarded the aircraft in Athens, but only 121 reached Vilnius. The CEO of Ryanair declared the extra passengers were probably security agents who had disembarked in Minsk. However, at least one passenger was a student who was likely also detained in the capital Minsk. Authorities report that the activist detained from the Ryanair flight is being held in Minsk in a pretrial detention center. There was confusion regarding the status of the activist. Unconfirmed reports stated he was in a hospital due to a heart condition; however, pro-government media released a video of the detained activist in which he claimed he had no heart condition and was confessing to his involvement in riots.
Algeria (Security threat level – 4): On 24 May 2021, Algerian authorities announced that beginning 1 June all arriving international travelers must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 36 hours prior to arrival in Algeria. Additionally, travelers will be required to quarantine for five days at a government-approved location at their own expense, and they must take a PCR test on the fifth day of quarantine. Authorities announced on 16 May that they would reopen Algeria’s borders to international travel after closing them in March 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mali (Security threat level – 5): As of 25 May 2021, the political situation within Mali remains uncertain following the events of 24 May, when military personnel in the capital Bamako arrested President Bah N’Daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane following the appointment of several new government officials. The transitional government leaders are reportedly being held at a military base in the garrison town of Kati, located 15 km (9 mi) outside of Bamako. The move mirrors the August 2020 military coup in which soldiers led by several high-ranking military officials — including current Vice President Assimi Goita, who is also the leader of the new military junta — arrested then-President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and then-Prime Minster Boubou Cissé. On 25 May, Goita stated that the interim administration violated the transitional charter and forced the military to once again seize power. He further stated that the existing transitional charter will remain in place.
Protest activity remains likely following the political upheaval. For example, reports indicate that demonstrators blocked all of the exit posts out of Ansongo, a rural commune and small town in the eastern Gao region, on 24 May. While details regarding the current state of political affairs remain unclear, the U.S. Embassy in Bamako issued a Security Alert regarding an increase in military activity in the city and urged U.S. citizens to avoid nonessential travel inside the city; the full text of the alert is available here.
The interim government — largely composed of a military junta that seized power during the August 2020 military coup — was expected to hold power for a period of 18 months. Under the transitional charter, a referendum on a new constitution is scheduled to occur on 31 October 2021, while local elections are scheduled for 26 December and presidential and legislative elections are scheduled for 27 February 2022. The arrests were made shortly after two senior members of the Cabinet – Col. Modibo Kone and Col. Sadio Camara — were forced to cede their positions as security civil protection minister and defense minister, respectively. According to a joint statement by several key international actors that condemned the ongoing coup activity, an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) delegation is expected to visit Bamako on 25 May to assess the situation. The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINSUMA) is also closely monitoring the situation.
Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Security threat level – 4): On 25 May 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa issued a Security Alert regarding Mount Nyiragongo, which reads in part as follows: “Earthquakes and seismic activity, including the release of harmful gases from fissures, continue as a result of the May 22 eruption of Mount Nyiragongo. There are reports of damage from the earthquakes throughout the city, including of buildings and streets. Remain vigilant, monitor local media, and follow instructions of local authorities. Avoid all areas considered “Red Zones” by local authorities. U.S. citizens who feel unsafe should consider departing Goma.
“Goma Airport remains closed until further notice per DRC Civil Aviation authorities. Ferries are operating as normal between Goma and Bukavu. The road to Sake remains open. The border between Goma and Rwanda remains open at this time.”
The full text of the alert is available here.
Guyana (Security threat level – 3): On 24 May 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “Location: Robbery near the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown, Duke and Young Streets
“Event: On Monday, May 24, 2021, at approximately 0714, an Embassy visitor was robbed of their personal belongings at the intersection of Duke and Young Street, while attempting to park in a visitor parking spot directly across from the embassy. The assailants were traveling on motorbikes and did not present any weapons, but used physical force to grab personal items from inside the victim’s vehicle. The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens to exercise caution due to crime in Guyana. Report crimes or attempted crimes immediately to the local police in Georgetown by dialing 911 or the Guyana Police Force Quick Response Hotline at +592 225-6411.”
Japan (Security threat level – 1) : On 24 May 2021, the U.S. Department of State upgraded the Travel Advisory for Japan to “Level 4: Do Not Travel” from “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” due in part to coronavirus-related restrictions. The updated advisory reads in part as follows: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Japan due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country. There are restrictions in place affecting U.S. citizen entry into Japan. Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Japan.”
The full text of the advisory is available here.
Analyst Comment: Under the previous advisory, the CDC COVID-19 rating was “Level 3: High,” the second-highest level on a four-tier scale. The updated rating is reportedly due to the methodology used by the CDC, which evaluates several factors, including testing, incident and reproduction rates. According to the data, Japan’s incidence rate reached 120 cases per 100,000 people on 21 May. By CDC criteria, more than 100 cases per 100,000 people over a 28-day period meets the standard to be rated as Level 4.
Maldives (Security threat level – 3): On 25 May 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice regarding coronavirus-related restrictions in the capital Male, which reads in part as follows: “A Public Health Emergency is in place until 3 June 2021. A curfew is in place in the Greater Male’ area from 4pm to 8am. A permit must be obtained through Maldives Police Service for all movements during non-curfew hours. Inter-island travel is restricted to essential needs and medical services only throughout the country. When travelling from Greater Male’ (but not including the airport) to other islands, a negative PCR test must be obtained and there is a mandatory 14 day home quarantine upon arrival at your destination. Use of masks is mandatory while travelling by air and sea.
“Tourists can travel between islands and resorts that do not have COVID-19 cases and are not subject to monitoring for COVID-19, but need prior approval for inter-island travel from [email protected]. If you have stayed at a tourist guesthouse (as opposed to a resort island) at any point during your stay in Maldives, you need to conduct a PCR test 72 hours prior to your scheduled departure from Maldives.”