Worldview Security Report – February 21, 2019
21-Feb-19

ASIA

Bangladesh (Security threat level – 4): At approximately 2340 local time (1740 UTC) on 20 February 2019, an apartment building in the Chawkbazar city district of Dhaka caught fire. The fire started at a building that had flammable chemicals stored on the ground floor and then quickly spread to at least three other adjacent buildings and triggered several gas cylinder explosions. It took firefighters at least five hours to contain the blaze. At least 80 people were killed in the fire, while at least 50 others were injured. The victims included those who were trapped inside the buildings, as well as pedestrians and shoppers who were caught in the fire in the district’s crowded and narrow streets. The number of casualties is expected to rise.

AUSTRALASIA

South Pacific Islands (Security threat level – 1): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), as of 0900 UTC on 21 February 2019, Typhoon Wutip was located approximately 900 km (560 mi) south-southeast of Guam and was moving west-northwest at 26 kph (16 mph). The storm was generating maximum sustained winds of 139 kph with gusts up to 167 kph. Wutip, which the JTWC upgraded to a typhoon on 21 February, is currently not expected to make landfall. However, its current path will bring it near Guam, and it is expected to bring heavy rainfall to the island.

EUROPE

Spain (Security threat level – 3): As of 21 February 2019, a general strike is affecting transportation across the Catalan region of Spain. A minority union organized the strike to call for an increase in the minimum wage and to protest against the trial of 12 Catalan separatist leaders, among other issues. Overall, the strike is having a fairly limited impact on business and public services, as the main Spanish workers’ association is not participating. That being said, striking workers are using burning tires to block highways, roads and train tracks across the region. For example, there are reports of road blocks on the Gran Vía and Paralelo avenues in Barcelona, along the AP-7 turnpike and N-II road in Sant Julià de Ramis and on the A-27 highway in Tarragona. There have also been reports of clashes between police officers and protesters, with protesters throwing stones and projectiles at police officers who attempt to clear road blockages. A number of these clashes have occurred in and around Barcelona. Thus far, at least three people have been arrested and 12 police officers have been injured. Pro-Catalan independence groups are expected to hold another protest in downtown Barcelona beginning at 1800 local time (1700 UTC).

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Morocco (Security threat level – 3): On 20 February 2019, several thousand demonstrators gathered outside the Education Ministry in Rabat to call for increased salaries and protest limited advancement opportunities. Riot police officers intervened when the participants attempted to march toward the royal palace; security forces used water cannons and batons to disperse the protesters. Several demonstrators were arrested or injured, but there were no reports of fatalities.




GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): On 20 February 2019, the U.S. Embassy in La Paz issued a Demonstration Alert for Bolivia, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Nationwide, concentrating in main plazas and avenues of major cities.
  • “Event: Multiple Bolivian civic groups throughout the country have announced demonstrations and counter-demonstrations on February 21, 2019. The expected size and duration of the demonstrations are unknown. Currently the U.S. Embassy is unaware of any announced work stoppages or blockades.”

  • Chile (Security threat level – 2): On 20 February 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Chile, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Heavy rains in northern Chile since the beginning of February have caused severe flooding and landslides in some areas. Heavy showers and thunderstorms are forecast to continue through to the end of the month. If you’re travelling in Chile, you should keep up to date with weather forecasts, monitor local media and follow advice from local authorities, including the National Tourism Service (SERNATUR).”

  • Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On the morning of 21 February 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Burning tires have been reported in Carradeux near Aristide University. Avoid the area. Do not attempt to drive through roadblocks. If you encounter a roadblock, turn around and get to a safe area.”

  • Nigeria (Security threat level – 5): On 21 February 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Abuja and the Consulate General in Lagos issued a Message regarding closures during the presidential elections, which reads in part as follows:

  • “The Federal Government of Nigeria has declared Friday, February 22, 2019 as a Work-Free Day to enable Nigerians to prepare for the rescheduled Presidential and National Assembly Elections on Saturday, February 23, 2019.
  • “In recognition of this declaration and to encourage all our Nigerian employees to exercise their right to vote, the U.S. Embassy in Abuja and the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos will be closed. No consular services will be available. If you already have a regular visa or ACS appointment for that date, you will be contacted for rescheduling.”

  • Nigeria (Security threat level – 5): On 21 February 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice regarding the upcoming presidential elections, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Presidential and National Assembly elections will take place on 23 February and Gubernatorial and State House of Assembly elections on 9 March 2019. In the run up to the elections, protests in Abuja and other Nigerian states including Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara and Rivers are of particular concern. Public gatherings and demonstrations may take place at short notice and have the potential to turn violent. You should continue to avoid rallies, public gatherings and demonstrations and monitor local media.
  • “Travel will be restricted across Nigeria from 6am to 6pm on election day, but these times could vary in different parts of the country. If you’re planning to travel over the election period you should factor these restrictions, potential disruption or changes at short notice into your travel plans and keep up to date with the latest travel information from your airline or transport provider.”

  • Spain (Security threat level – 3): On 20 February 2019, the U.S. Consulate General in Barcelona issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Barcelona, Spain
  • “Event: Several strikes and demonstrations are expected to take place in Barcelona on February 21, 2018, regarding Catalonia’s political situation. U.S. citizens should expect disruptions to traffic flows and public transportation. Additional demonstrations may occur at other locations throughout Catalonia. Please see our Demonstrations in Spain webpage for more information.
  • “Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity.”

  • 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.