Worldview Security Report – January 23, 2019
23-Jan-19

AMERICAS

United States (Security threat level – 2): On the evening of 22 January 2019, authorities briefly halted flight operations at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport (KEWR/EWR) as a precautionary measure following reports of drone activity at nearby Teterboro Airport (KTEB/TEB), which is located approximately 20 mi (30 km) away. Crew members on two separate flights en route to Newark Liberty International Airport reported that the drone was flying approximately 3,500 ft (1,070 m) above Teterboro Airport; one pilot operating through Teterboro Airport stated that the unmanned aerial vehicle came within 30 ft of his aircraft. Normal operations resumed at both aforementioned facilities after no additional reports of drone sightings emerged for approximately two hours. There were no reports of significant flight cancellations or delays due to the incident.

AUSTRALASIA

South Pacific Islands (Security threat level – 1): As of 23 January 2019, the island of Tonga remains in a near total blackout of mobile and internet services after a severe storm damaged the island’s only undersea cable on 20 January. A satellite link is providing a limited bandwidth, officials have stated that they may restrict social media use to maximize the available bandwidth while the issue is being resolved. While banks and government agencies in Tonga have their own satellite links and have managed to stay largely operational, the internet disruption has affected some business operations, including flight bookings and credit card transactions at local businesses. Officials have stated that it could take up to three weeks to fix the issue.

EUROPE

Spain (Security threat level – 3): On 23 January 2019, hundreds of taxi drivers in Madrid went on strike for a third consecutive day to call for tighter regulations on ride-hailing services. Striking drivers used burning tires and garbage cans to block access to Ifema, the city’s main convention center, where a high-profile international tourism fair is underway. There were reports of clashes between protesters and riot police officers, who were deployed to clear the road leading to the exhibition center. In addition, Madrid Metro authorities temporarily closed the nearby Feria de Madrid underground station due to security concerns; however, metro services are continuing at the station. Reports indicate that several roads in the vicinity of the Ifema convention center remain blocked, and transportation disruptions are expected throughout the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, cab drivers in Barcelona continued to block major thoroughfares in the city for a sixth consecutive day as they evaluated a proposed government deal, which would involve requiring users of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Cabify to call for services one hour in advance. An association representing the ride-hailing services sector in Spain reported that since the strikes began, approximately 80 private-hire cars have been damaged in Barcelona, while 50 have been damaged in Madrid.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Sudan (Security threat level – 5): As of 23 January 2019, the Sudanese Professionals’ Association has called for nationwide demonstrations to take place across Sudan on 24 January. The call for demonstrations comes as police officers used tear gas to disperse a small sit-in protest in Khartoum on 23 January, as well as after-dark protests in Khartoum’s Bahari district overnight on 22-23 January, and protests during the day in Omdurman on 22 January. There were no reports of serious injuries.

Zimbabwe (Security threat level – 4): As of 23 January 2019, security officials have continued to target and arrest activists suspected of involvement in the protests that occurred in Zimbabwe over 14-16 January. For instance, on 22 January, police officers in Harare arrested an opposition parliamentarian on suspicion of inciting violence; meanwhile, on 21 January, security personnel arrested the secretary general of the Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) at Harare International Airport (FVRG/HRE).

Supply chain disruptions and stockpiling of goods have exacerbated shortages of food and other basic necessities in Harare. Most supermarkets in the city’s central business district (CBD) are running out of basic food items, with some businesses closing early and limiting the number of items one customer can purchase to avoid complete depletion of stock. Prices for the majority of goods — including rice, sugar and fuel — have doubled. Transportation throughout Zimbabwe remains disrupted, as many providers are not offering services or are charging exorbitant prices. In response, the government has mobilized new buses throughout the country that are offering lower fares.




GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Ghana (Security threat level – 3): On 23 January 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Ghana, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Localised outbreaks of civil unrest can occur at short notice, particularly in the north. There remains a risk of localised civil unrest in Yendi, Tamale and surrounding areas after the conclusion of Chieftaincy funerals. The government has imposed a 6pm to 6am curfew in Yendi to maintain peace and security. If you’re in these areas, you should remain vigilant, exercise caution and follow the advice of local authorities, given the risk of localised civil unrest. If this does happen, local police may impose curfews to contain the situation.”

  • Guyana (Security threat level – 3): On 22 January 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown, Guyana
  • “Event: This is an update to the Security Alert issued August 6, 2018. As of January 22, 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown has lifted restrictions on U.S. Government personnel staying at the Pegasus Hotel.”

  • Switzerland (Security threat level – 2): On 23 January 2019, the U.S. Mission in Switzerland issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Areas surrounding the U.S. Consular Agency Geneva, Rue François-Versonnex 7, CH-1207 Geneva, Switzerland
  • “Event: There are reports of an explosion in the area around the Consular Agency. Avoid the area and seek shelter if in vicinity. Follow advice of security personnel.”
  • Analyst comment: Emerging reports suggest that the explosion was caused by a gas leak in a nearby restaurant. There have been no reports of injuries.

  • Venezuela (Security threat level – 4):
    On 22 January 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Caracas issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: “Demonstrations are scheduled to take place throughout Venezuela on January 23, and may continue throughout the week. The U.S. Embassy will maintain normal business hours and will receive any U.S. citizens needing emergency services. However, the movement of U.S. government personnel will be restricted to the following neighborhoods in Caracas: Valle Arriba and Santa Fe, as well as the Escuela Campo Alegre (ECA).”


    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.