United States (Security threat level – 2): On 14 February 2019, heavy rainfall caused mudslides and flooding in California. A mudslide in the town of Sausalito, located near San Francisco, destroyed two homes and five cars; emergency personnel evacuated more than 50 homes in the area as a precaution following the mudslide. There were reports of flooding, along with downed trees and light poles, across the state, including in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Rain also washed away at least one section of State Route 243 in the San Jacinto Mountains east of Los Angeles. Emergency personnel carried out about a dozen water rescues of stranded motorists statewide. At least two people were killed in weather-related incidents.
India (Security threat level – 3): On 15 February 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned Pakistan of possible repercussions following a suicide car bomb attack in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed at least 44 members of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on 14 February. The Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack, and India has accused the Pakistani government of failing to crack down on the militant group. Thus far, Indian authorities have withdrawn the most favored nation (MFN) trade privileges that had been accorded to Pakistan. It remains unclear what other steps India is considering, although it has stated that it plans to take “all diplomatic steps” to “ensure the complete isolation from the international community of Pakistan.” Modi has warned that military options are also available. Pakistan has rejected allegations of its involvement in the attack.
Following the attack, on 14 February, protesters gathered outside Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi and burned Pakistani flags. The protesters also attempted to enter the diplomatic facility, but police officers blocked them from entering. A curfew was also imposed in Jammu city following protests related to the attack.
South Pacific Islands (Security threat level – 1): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 0900 UTC on 15 February 2019, Tropical Cyclone Oma was located approximately 410 km (255 mi) northwest of Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, and was moving south-southwest at a speed of approximately 13 kph (8 mph). At that time, the storm was also generating maximum sustained winds of 102 kph with gusts up to 130 kph. Despite moving away from Vanuatu, Tropical Cyclone Oma is still expected to bring between 100 and 200 mm (4 and 8 in) of rainfall to Espiritu Santo Island between 16 and 17 February. Authorities have also warned of possible mudslides as a result of the rains.
France (Security threat level – 3): According to reports on 14 February 2019, the 14th consecutive weekend of “yellow vest” protests is planned in cities across France on 16-17 February. On 16 February, multiple protests are planned throughout the day in Paris, including along the Champs-Élysées and near the Presidential Palace. In addition, further protests are expected in the evening at the Place de la République. Demonstrations are also expected in several other French cities, including Bordeaux, Lille, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Pontivy, Strasbourg and Toulouse. Moreover, organizers have called for a protest in Paris on 17 February to mark three months since the yellow vest protests began on 17 November. Protesters will gather at the Arc de Triomphe at approximately 1100 local time (1000 UTC) and then march through the city starting at 1300 local time.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
Egypt (Security threat level – 4): On 15 February 2019, two improvised explosive devices detonated in the Cairo suburb of Giza. The attacks occurred outside al-Istaqama Mosque. Reports indicate that unidentified militants detonated one device at a police checkpoint, while security forces detonated the second device in a controlled explosion at the same location. One civilian was injured in the attack, for which no group has yet claimed responsibility. Security officials stated that they believe militants linked to the Muslim Brotherhood are responsible for the attack.
Nigeria (Security threat level – 5): On 15 February 2019, Nigeria closed the country’s land borders ahead of its 16 February presidential elections. The borders closed at 1200 local time (1100 UTC) and will remain closed until 17 February at 1200 local time (1100 UTC). In addition to the land border closures, police officers will be restricting vehicular movement on 16 February from 0600 to 1800 local time. It remains unclear to what extent police officers will be restricting vehicular movement.
Albania (Security threat level – 3): On 14 February 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Tirana issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:
“Location: Announced gathering points include, but are not limited to, the following areas in Tirana, Albania:
Deshmoret e Kombit Boulevard, in the vicinity of the Prime Minister’s Office
Zogu i Zi area
Selman Stermasi Stadium
“Event: A demonstration is expected to take place on February 16, 2019. Demonstrators will reportedly gather at the Zogu i Zi area (Black Eagle Square), Qyteti Studenti (Student City), Selman Stermasi Stadium, and other locations around the city in the morning, then move towards the Prime Minister’s Office to gather around 11:00 a.m. The group intends to demonstrate against the Albanian government. The duration of the demonstration is unknown.
“U.S. Embassy personnel and family members are directed to avoid all gathering points and locations where demonstrations are imminent or ongoing.”
Burkina Faso (Security threat level – 4): On 14 February 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Burkina Faso. One update regards the level of advice in parts of Burkina Faso and reads in part as follows:
“The FCO now advise against all travel to the Sahel and Est regions in full, and to the Koulpélogo province in Centre-Est region.”
A second update was issued regarding the threat of terrorist kidnapping. The updated section reads in part as follows: “There remains a continuing high threat of kidnap in Burkina Faso and the wider Sahel region. On 15 January 2019, a Canadian citizen was kidnapped near Gayeri in the Est region and found dead near the Niger border 2 days later…A number of hostages kidnapped in Burkina Faso are still being held by terrorist groups.
“This threat is likely to continue as groups remain intent on demonstrating capability and increasing influence across the region. In March 2017, AQ-M Sahel, Ansar al-Dine and al-Murabitun merged into the new group ‘Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen’, demonstrating their continued intent to conduct attacks and kidnaps across the region. There is a good chance that AQ-affiliate JNIM will continue to target foreign nationals. See our Sahel page for information on the regional threat.”
Chad (Security threat level – 5): On 15 February 2019, the U.S. Embassy in N’Djamena issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:
“Location: Mahamat Ouya soccer stadium
“Event: The U.S. Embassy was informed that today’s rally is now scheduled to run until 1700. Heavier than usual traffic and police presence are anticipated. U.S. government personnel are advised to avoid driving the portion of Avenue Felix Eboué between the traffic circle at Fontaine de l’Union and the intersection at Clinic Providence from 0800 until 1800. Utilize the corniche road past the Hilton and Radisson or use the Djamena-Moundou (Rue d’Istanbul) highway.”
France (Security threat level – 3): On 15 February 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Paris issued a Demonstration Alert regarding upcoming “yellow vest” protests that reads in part as follows:
“Location: France, countrywide. Including, but not limited to: Paris, Amiens, Avignon, Bordeaux, Bourges, Caen, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Nancy, Nantes, Nice, Rennes, Rouen, Strasbourg, and Toulouse.
“Gathering points and routes in Paris include, but are not limited to, the following locations and surrounding areas: Champs-Elysées, Boulevard Saint-Germain, Place de la Concorde, Place de la Madeleine, Place de la Bastille, Place de la République, Place Saint-Michel, Assemblée Nationale, Porte Maillot affecting traffic on the Périphérique (ring road around Paris), the Champs de Mars near the Eiffel Tower, and Porte de Versailles. Similar central locations in cities throughout France could also be settings for protests and police response.
“Event: Saturday demonstrations by the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ (yellow vests) are expected to continue. The group is protesting fuel prices
and taxes, and other government policies. Previous demonstrations have become violent with smaller groups splitting from the main demonstration and causing serious damage to private and public property. Police response has included water cannons and/or tear gas. In addition to the demonstrations in major cities, organizers continue to call for traffic interruptions and blockades throughout France. At highway toll stations, protesters have set up barricades and set fire to pallets.”
Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 15 February 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince issued updated Travel Advisory for Haiti, which reads in part as follows:
“Due to widespread, violent, and unpredictable demonstrations throughout Haiti, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Haiti due to crime and civil unrest. For U.S. citizens in Haiti, the Department advises U.S. citizens in Haiti to strongly consider departing as soon as they safely can do so. U.S. citizens wishing to depart Haiti should make their own travel arrangements. Commercial flights remain available, and flights are operating normally from international airports in Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien. Do not travel to the airport unless it is safe to do so. If you encounter a roadblock or demonstration, turn around and do not try to pass.
“Due to the demonstrations, on February 14, 2019, the U.S. government ordered the departure of all non-emergency U.S. personnel and their family members, and upgraded the Travel Advisory to a Level 4 – Do Not Travel. The Embassy is open for emergency assistance to U.S. citizens, and all routine American Citizen Services appointments and all visa service appointments have been cancelled until further notice.
“Do not seek shelter at the U.S. Embassy. The Embassy is only able to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens at this time, such as providing U.S. passports for travel out of Haiti. There are no evacuation efforts at this time, and U.S. citizens are encouraged to make their own arrangements to safely depart Haiti.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and remain in close contact with Haitian authorities to verify the welfare and whereabouts of U.S. citizens in the area. We encourage you to closely monitor this site for important crisis information.”
Hungary (Security threat level – 2): On 15 February 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Budapest issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:
“Location: Gathering site: Lánchíd / Chain Bridge (district 5.), February 15, 2019 starting at 17:00 pm – Budapest, Hungary.
“Event: A political demonstration is expected to take place on February 15, 2019 from 17:00 pm to 22:00 pm on the occasion of changes in the Labor Code. The Hungarian Police have noted that there will be a law enforcement presence at the venue. The demonstration is properly registered with the Hungarian National Police and they will provide security.”
Mexico (Security threat level – 4): On 14 February 2019, the U.S. Consulate General in Tijuana issued a Weather Alert, which reads in part as follows:
“Location: Northern Baja California
“Event: The U.S. Consulate advises U.S. citizens that the Mexican Civil Protection Agency and the U.S. National Weather Service have both issued weather advisories for heavy rain through late afternoon on Friday, February 15. Predictions are for several inches of rain, which at times may be heavy.
“U.S. National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Watch for southwest California including San Diego County coastal areas, mountains, and valleys through Thursday evening. This weather will occur in northwest Baja California, as well. Heavy rain combined with excessive run off from the coastal mountain slopes and saturated soils could trigger flash flooding of low-lying areas, urbanized street flooding, and debris flows. Debris flows are most likely Thursday afternoon and evening.
“The Director of Tijuana Civil Protection tweeted that forecasts suggest these rains will be the worst in the past 25 years and could affect not only Tijuana but also Tecate, Rosarito, and Ensenada to El Rosario, including the mountains of Juarez and San Pedro Martin. Area Mexican schools have been closed on Thursday and Friday as a precaution.”
Security threat levels range from 1 (Very Low) to 5 (Very High) and are determined using a comprehensive system that utilizes both qualitative and quantitative analysis. The primary factors used to determine a location’s security threat level are Armed Conflict, Crime, Demonstrations/Strikes, Ethnic/Sectarian Tensions, Graft/Corruption, Kidnapping, Political Instability, Government Restriction and Terrorism.