November 23, 2020
23-Nov-2020

AMERICAS

Brazil (Security threat level – 3) : On 20 November 2020, approximately 1,000 protesters attacked and vandalized a Carrefour Brasil supermarket in the city of Porto Alegre after security guards killed a Black man at the store the previous day. Demonstrators set the store on fire, shattered windows and damaged delivery vehicles in the store’s parking area. Police officers deployed tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the protesters. In Sao Paulo, several dozen demonstrators set fire to a Carrefour store and smashed its windows. In Rio de Janeiro approximately 200 demonstrators gathered outside another Carrefour.

Canada (Security threat level – 2): On 23 November 2020, Toronto, Canada’s largest city, and the adjacent Peel region — which comprises Toronto’s western suburbs — entered a lockdown in an attempt to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19. The lockdown is set to be in effect until at least 21 December, during which indoor public events and other social gatherings are prohibited and outdoor gatherings are restricted to a maximum of 10 people. Nonessential retail establishments are restricted to curbside pickup and delivery services only, and restaurants may offer carryout, drive-through and delivery services. Meanwhile, essential businesses, including convenience stores, grocery stores, hardware stores and pharmacies, may allow patrons indoors, but are limited to 50% occupancy. Violators of the restrictions may be fined 750 Canadian dollars (about 575 U.S. dollars). Additional details regarding restrictions and other public health measures imposed in Toronto and the Peel region are available here.

Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): During the early morning of 23 November 2020, the speaker of Congress announced that the legislature will re-examine the controversial 2021 federal budget proposal; the budget, which had proposed a significant funding cut to the health and education sectors, has prompted violent protests in Guatemala City since 19 November. Activists on social media have called for a nationwide strike to occur on 23 November to pressure President Alejandro Giammattei to resign.

On 21 November police officers clashed with protesters in front of the congressional building and the National Palace in Zone 1 of the capital Guatemala City. Police officers used tear gas and batons to repel demonstrators from the two federal buildings; protesters breached the congressional building and lit a fire inside one of the offices. Demonstrators also destroyed several bus stations and vandalized nearby buildings. At least 24 people were injured in the protests, including 12 police officers; security personnel arrested at least 39 people, most of whom were later released.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): On 21 November 2020, police officers in Paris used water cannons to disperse protesters near the Eiffel Tower, after verbally warning the crowd to disperse multiple times. Thousands of people had gathered to protest a bill that would impose penalties for publishing images of police officers with intent to harm them. At least one police officer suffered minor injuries. Authorities stated that they arrested 23 protesters. Similar protests also took place in other cities around the country, including Lille, Montpellier, Nice and Rennes.

Portugal (Security threat level – 2): On 21 November 2020, Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced the imposition of several new measures under the state of emergency that parliament approved on 20 November in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Under the order — which is in effect until at least 8 December — intermunicipal travel will not be permitted during the following time frames: from 2300 local time/UTC on 27 November until 0500 local time on 2 December, and from 2300 local time on 4 December until 0500 local time on 9 December. Additionally, authorities introduced a risk map that divides the country into four levels — moderate risk, high risk, very high risk and extremely high risk — and established various restrictions per level, including limitations on travel and access to public roads.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Ethiopia (Security threat level – 4): As of 23 November 2020, the conflict between the Ethiopian military and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is ongoing. According to a government spokesperson, the TPLF fired missiles at Amhara region’s Bahir Dar again on 23 November, although the latest attack reportedly caused no damage or casualties.

On 22 November Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed issued an ultimatum to the TPLF forces to surrender the Tigray regional capital Mekele within 72 hours or face a military offensive against the city. A military spokesperson stated that forces plan to surround Mekele with tanks and shell the city with artillery until it surrenders. The government also warned civilians that there would be “no mercy” during the effort to capture the capital, alleging that TPLF members are hiding among civilians and inside of various community centers; international organizations and human rights groups warned that attacking the city as a target would violate international law and constitute war crimes. Meanwhile, the TPLF stated that its forces are digging trenches and intend to hold their ground.

Also on 22 November, a government spokesperson stated that the military had successfully eliminated a TPLF unit in the vicinity of Hawzen and Tembien, two towns in the Tigray region. On 21 November the central government claimed that it had captured the town of Adigrat — located approximately 115 km (70 mi) north of the regional capital — during its advance toward Mekele, as well as the towns of Axum and Adawa. TPLF leaders stated that at least nine civilians were killed during the central government’s attack on the town.

Both sides remain opposed to mediation, despite regional and international actors repeatedly calling for peace talks. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed denied that the central government had made any plans to engage in peace talks with the TPLF following an announcement by the African Union, which stated that the regional bloc had appointed special envoys to mediate the conflict.

The TPLF-imposed state of emergency remains in effect across the Tigray region, as does the state of emergency imposed by the federal government. Roads into and throughout the region remain blocked, and vehicles carrying food, fuel and medical supplies have been unable to enter. Flights to Mekele Alula Aba Nega Airport (HAMK/MQX), Shire Airport (SHC) and Axum Airport (HAAX/AXU) remain suspended. Unverified reports by state-affiliated media sources indicate that TPLF forces destroyed the Axum airport on 23 November.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

India (Security threat level – 3): On 23 November 2020, the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai issued a Weather Alert regarding a developing tropical cyclone, which reads in part as follows: “Location: Puducherry, Tamil Nadu

“Event: A tropical depression in the Bay of Bengal is expected to strengthen into a tropical cyclone (Tropical Cyclone Nivar), making landfall in Tamil Nadu by November 25, 2020. According to local weather sources, such as the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre for Tropical Cyclones Over North Indian Ocean, heavy rains may begin as early as November 24, 2020. The cyclone is expected to move north and west, along the coast. There is an increased risk of heavy rainfall, flooding and high winds for both coastal and inland locations. Internet service, landline phone and cell phone capabilities may be affected.

“U.S. Consulate General Chennai staff members have been asked to defer non-essential travel and to make preparations should sheltering-in-place or relocation become necessary.”

The full text of the alert is available here.