Worldview Security Report – March 21, 2019
21-Mar-19

ASIA

Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): On 21 March 2019, three remote-controlled explosive devices detonated near Kabul’s Kart-e-Sakhi shrine, where crowds had gathered to mark Nowruz, the Persian New Year. At least six people were killed and 23 were injured in the attack. A fourth explosive device was found and defused close to nearby Kabul University. Authorities have arrested one person in connection to the blasts. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack; the Taliban publicly denied responsibility.

AUSTRALASIA

Australia (Security threat level – 2): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 0900 UTC on 21 March 2019, Tropical Cyclone Trevor was located in the Gulf of Carpentaria, approximately 370 km (230 mi) southwest of Weipa, Australia. At that time, the storm was moving south-southwest at a speed of approximately 6 kph and was posting maximum sustained winds of 80 kph with gusts of up to 100 kph. Current forecasts show Trevor making landfall as a Category 4 storm between the towns of Borroloola and Groote Eylandt on the Northern Territory coast by 23 March. The Northern Territory is under a state of emergency and is currently undertaking one of its largest ever evacuations, removing residents along its coast from Groote Eylandt to the Queensland state border; thus far, more than 1,000 people have been evacuated from Groote Eylandt and Numbulwar, while another 1,000 people have been evacuated out of Borroloola, Robinson River and other communities. The entire Gulf of Carpentaria coast is under a flood watch, with gale-force winds, heavy rains and dangerous storm surges expected. Schools in the area have been closed ahead of the storm’s arrival.

Australia (Security threat level – 2): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 0900 UTC on 21 March 2019, Tropical Cyclone Veronica was located approximately 350 km (220 mi) north-northwest of the town of Port Hedland in Western Australia. At that time, the storm was generating maximum sustained winds of 230 kph with gusts up to 275 kph, and was moving south-southwest at a speed of 9 kph (6 mph). Veronica is currently a Category 4 storm and could intensify into a Category 5 storm over the next 24 hours. The storm is currently forecast to make landfall as a Category 4 storm on the northwestern coast of Western Australia by 25 March. The exact area where the storm will make landfall remains unclear; authorities have warned residents in the communities from Pardoo to Mardie to prepare for the possibility of dangerous weather conditions.

EUROPE

Belgium (Security threat level – 3): On 21 March 2019, Belgian air traffic controllers (ATC) continued to strike for a second consecutive day over staffing and workload issues. Delays have been reported at airports across the country, including at Brussels International Airport (EBBR/BRU), Brussels South Charleroi Airport (EBCI/CRL), Antwerp International Airport (EBAW/ANR), Ostend-Bruges International Airport (EBOS/OST) and Liège Airport (EBLG/LGG). In addition, there have been a number of airlines — particularly Brussels Airlines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines — that have canceled flights. The strike was set to end at 1300 local time (1200 UTC) on 20 March, but it has been extended through 21 March. It remains unclear when exactly the strike will end. In addition, further extensions of the strike are likely, particularly as union leaders will meet with employers for the next round of negotiations on 22 March.

France (Security threat level – 3): As of 21 March 2019, customs officials at Paris’ Gare du Nord station are striking for the 16th consecutive day, significantly disrupting Eurostar services. The strike is causing delays and cancellations of Eurostar trains. Travelers have reported waiting up to six hours to pass through customs as workers implement the “go slow” strike to call for increased pay and greater preparations ahead of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, which is currently set to occur on 29 March but will likely be delayed following a motion in the British Parliament, which was passed on 14 March. The labor action, which began on 6 March, has been extended multiple times and significant Eurostar delays and cancellations are likely for the foreseeable future. The rail operator has warned passengers not to travel on Eurostar services until April at the earliest.




GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Bulgaria (Security threat level – 3): On 21 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Sofia issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Beginning at the 7th kilometer of Tsarigradsko Shose, along Tsarigradsko Shose to Eagles’ Bridge and onward to the area of St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral and Square.
  • “Event: A demonstration, specifically a motorcade protest, is expected to take place on Thursday, March 21, 2019, beginning at 3 P.M. The Sofia Drivers Initiative Committee intends to protest an unregulated transportation company. The protest is supported by the National Taxi Syndicate, Taxi Union, and multiple other taxi or transportation companies. Approximately 5,000 participants are expected. Protest organizers have vowed to begin clearing starting at 4 P.M.
  • “U.S. government personnel are advised to avoid the affected areas from 1 P.M. onward.
  • “U.S. Embassy Sofia remains open for normal operations.”

  • Denmark (Security threat level – 2): On 20 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Christiansborg Slotsplads – Copenhagen, Denmark
  • “Event: The U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen informs U.S. citizens that Hizb ut Tahrir will hold their Friday prayers on March 22, 2019 at 12:30 p.m. at the Danish Parliament, located at Christiansborg Slotsplads in Copenhagen.
  • “Stram Kurs, a Danish political party, will hold a demonstration at the same time and place. Events involving Stram Kurs in the past have resulted in violence and police intervention. Open hostility and even clashes between opposing groups can be expected at this event. Danish police will be present to monitor both groups and any others that may arrive unannounced.
  • “U.S. government personnel are advised to avoid the area during the planned demonstrations.”

  • France (Security threat level – 3): On 21 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Paris issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: France, countrywide.
  • “Event: Weekend demonstrations by the “Gilets Jaunes” (Yellow Vests) are expected to continue March 23-24, and could turn violent. The U.S. Embassy is advising official U.S. government travelers to avoid travel to Paris and other major cities in France over the weekend.
  • “During previous demonstrations, damage to property, including looting and arson, in populated tourist areas has occurred with reckless disregard for public safety. Police response has included water cannons, rubber bullets, and tear gas.
  • “In addition to the demonstrations in major cities, travelers should expect traffic interruptions and blockades throughout France. At highway toll stations, protesters have previously set up barricades and set fire to pallets.
  • “Please see the U.S. Embassy France website for additional security and travel information.
  • “Actions to Take:
  • Review your travel plans for March 23-24
  • Exercise extreme caution
  • Keep a low profile and avoid areas of the demonstrations
  • Shelter in place if in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests
  • Close windows and shutters to avoid possible smoke and tear gas exposure
  • Consider relocating in advance to another area
  • Do not try to force your way through a barricade with your vehicle
  • Ensure you have access to your passport and other documents, prescription medicine, infant formula, and your phone and charger
  • Notify friends and family of your safety and travel plans”

  • Lebanon (Security threat level – 4): On 20 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Awkar Square, Dbayeh, Lebanon
  • “Event: We are aware of reports that a number of organizations have called for a demonstration on Thursday, March 21, 2019 at 5:00pm in Awkar Square, Dbayeh, to protest the U.S. Secretary of State’s visit to the region. Road closures are expected in the area.
  • “Public demonstrations have the potential to become violent. The U.S. Embassy has cancelled non-essential movement in the vicinity of the protest area.”

  • Paraguay (Security threat level – 3): On 20 March 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Paraguay, which reads in part as follows:

  • “There will be a large protest in Asuncion on Thursday 21st March 2019 by rural social organisations. The focal point of this protest will be the downtown area where government offices are located. Surrounding roads are likely to be disrupted. You should avoid large gatherings, monitor local media and follow the guidance of local authorities.”

  • Serbia (Security threat level – 3): On 21 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Belgrade, Serbia
  • “Event: Police report a substantial increase in pickpocketings throughout the downtown Belgrade area. The perpetrators frequently target apparent tourists, and often use a map or some other distraction while stealing items.”

  • Thailand (Security threat level – 3): On 21 March 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Thailand, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Thailand will hold a General Election on 24 March, with voting taking place between 8am and 5pm. Election Commission regulations prevent election campaigning in any form, including on-line activity, from 6pm on 23 March until the end of voting. They also prohibit photography inside polling stations and ban the sale of alcohol over the election period. You should be aware of local sensitivities and follow guidance from local authorities.”

  • 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.