MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
Tunisia (Security threat level – 3): On 17 January 2019, the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) launched a 24-hour nationwide strike to protest against the government’s refusal to increase the salaries of approximately 670,000 public employees. Transportation and public services were disrupted throughout the country, including at Tunis-Carthage International Airport (DTTA/TUN), where all inbound and outbound flights were canceled. Thousands of demonstrators also gathered in front of the UGTT headquarters in the capital Tunis and began marching along the city’s main thoroughfare. A large security presence monitored the march, but there were no reports of violence. Other protests also occurred in cities such as Sidi Bouzid, Gafsa, Jendouba and Sfax.
Côte d’Ivoire (Security threat level – 4): On 17 January 2019, protests broke out across Côte d’Ivoire for the second day in a row in reaction to the International Criminal Court’s acquittal of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and political leader Charles Blé Goudé on charges of crimes against humanity committed during Gbagbo’s presidency. Anti-Gbagbo demonstrators rallied in the central city of Bouaké on 17 January to protest against the acquittal. Meanwhile, in Abidjan, anti-Gbagbo protesters demonstrated in the city’s Abobo and Anyama communes on 16 January. Protesters in Abobo blocked roads and burned tires; information regarding instances of violence in Anyama is not yet available.
Zimbabwe (Security threat level – 4): As of 17 January 2019, some businesses and banks have reopened in Harare, although it appears that public transportation has not resumed, following the end to a three-day strike over high fuel prices. There are also reports of soldiers monitoring long lines at fuel stations in Harare. Meanwhile, in Bulawayo, most businesses and schools remain closed. While some reports indicate that internet services have been restored nationwide, some users are still unable to access social media sites such as Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter. According to Zimbabwe’s state security minister, more than 600 people were arrested during violent protests nationwide over the last few days, including a prominent activist pastor, who will appear in court in Harare on 17 January to face charges regarding inciting public violence. According to the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, doctors treated 68 cases of gunshot wounds and more than 100 other cases of “assaults with sharp objects, booted feet, baton sticks,” among other injuries.
Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On 17 January 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Ecuador, which reads in part as follows:
“From 28 January 2019 permanent and temporary resident visas will be issued electronically; the online visa will be sent by email to be printed out; immigration authorities will have access to online visa records; all visitors to the Galapagos Islands should provide a copy of their hotel booking; visitors staying with local residents should have an invitation letter from their host.”
France (Security threat level – 3): On 17 January 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice regarding upcoming “yellow vest” protests in France, which reads in part as follows:
“Protests linked to the yellow vest (gilets jaunes) movement are continuing across France, with more planned on 19 and 20 January. A number of demonstrations have led to violence and extensive damage to property, in Paris and in other towns and cities across the country. A heavy police presence is to be expected and there could be instances of violence. Motorists travelling through France may continue to experience some delays or blockages caused by local demonstrators – you should drive with caution as some protestors may be based on roads, motorways and toll booths. In all cases, you should avoid demonstrations wherever possible and follow the advice of the local authorities.”
Lebanon (Security threat level – 4): On 17 January 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice regarding the upcoming Arab Economic and Social Development Summit in Beirut, which reads in part as follows: “The Arab Economic and Social Development Summit will be in held in Beirut from 18 to 20 January. Parts of downtown Beirut will be closed and there will be a heavier security presence than usual. You should follow the instructions of security agencies and avoid large crowds.”
Senegal (Security threat level – 3): On 17 January 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Dakar issued a Demonstration Alert regarding political protests, which reads in part as follows:
“Location: Potential areas of protest include, but are not limited to, the following areas in Dakar, Senegal:
Constitutional Council HQ (near the Philip Morris building)
The Supreme Court on the Corniche
Medina · Place de l’Obelisque
The Palais de Justice of Dakar (the regional Court of Dakar, near the Japanese embassy)
Area surrounding UCAD
Place de l’Independence
“Event: On Sunday, January 20th, the Constitutional Council will publish the final list of candidates for the upcoming presidential election. The disqualification of Khalifa Sall and Karim Wade in the council’s preliminary ruling led to a large demonstration on the VDN on January 15th, and more demonstrations (some possibly violent) are likely in the coming days and especially after the final ruling. Political protests are likely to continue throughout the entire electoral campaign (February 3rd through February 23rd) and possibly on Election Day itself (February 24th).”
Serbia (Security threat level – 3): On 16 January 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:
“Location: Belgrade, Serbia
“Event: A march through the city center in honor of visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to take place on Thursday, January 17 at 3:00PM, followed by an appearance at Saint Sava Church. Police expect there will be 70,000 attendees. President Putin will also attend various other events during the day. Expect enhanced security measures and street closures throughout the city.”
Zimbabwe (Security threat level – 4): On 16 January 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Harare issued a Security Alert regarding ongoing civil unrest that reads in part as follows:
“Security Alert: Continued street blockades and military checkpoints, government disruption of internet, reports of abuse and violence across Zimbabwe by security agents and political party supporters.
“Location: Across Zimbabwe
“Event: In response to protests over fuel shortages and price hikes, police dispersed tear gas against protesters in Bulawayo, Harare, and Mutare on January 14. On January 15 and January 16, the Embassy received reports of clashes between security forces and residents in satellite neighborhoods in Harare, Bulawayo, Kadoma, Kariba, and Mutare. The Embassy cannot confirm the number of people injured or killed since security forces responded, but Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum reports that 52 people sustained gunshot wounds since the protests started on January 14.
“The Embassy is operating with limited staffing for emergency services only. Grocery stores, schools, fuel stations, and local businesses remain closed on January 16. Hospitals are open with limited staffing due to employees being affected by fuel shortages and disruption of public transportation. Internet service continues to be disrupted by the Government of Zimbabwe so communication is limited to radio, text messaging, and phone calls.
“The Embassy recommends that American citizens restrict movement to daylight hours and only on unimpeded routes in your vicinity, monitor local media for updates, including Voice of America on Channel 909 AM in Harare and on short-wave 4930, 7210 and 12120 kilohertz frequencies. The Harare International Airport and Victoria Falls Airport remain open for business. Fast Jet and Air Zimbabwe, two of the main airline operators in Victoria Falls, announced they had cancelled all of their flights until further notice.
“Actions to Take:
In Harare: avoid the Harare Commercial Business District, Chitungwiza, Damafalls, Dzivarasekwa, Epworth, Hatcliffe, and Mabvuku. Outside Harare we recommend that Americans avoid satellite neighborhoods in Kadoma, Kariba and downtown Bulawayo and its western suburbs.”
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.