Worldview Security Update – December 27, 2019
27-Dec-19

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): A number of anti-government protest actions are set to occur in Hong Kong through the end of 2019. Beginning at 1500 local time (0700 UTC) on 28 December demonstrations are planned at the Landmark North shopping center in Sheung Shui. Between 1930 and 2100 local time a student protest is scheduled to take place in Tin Shui Wai. On 29 December a protest is scheduled to be held from 1400-2000 local time at Edinburgh Place in Central. Additionally, on 30 December a demonstration is expected to begin at Wan Chai Revenue Tower at 1200 local time on 30 December while a separate protest is scheduled at Tamar Park from 1700- 2030 local time. Beginning at 2000 local time on 31 December demonstrators are set to gather at Prince Edward MTR station to protest against violence between police officers and protesters at the station on 31 August. However, MTR officials will likely shut down the station earlier in the evening. Protesters also plan to form human chains throughout Hong Kong beginning at 1900 local time the same night.

Most notably, on 1 January 2020, the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) plans to hold a protest march from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to Chater Road in Central beginning at 1400 local time. Hundreds of thousands of people will likely participate in the march, as has been the case during the CHRF-organized gatherings in the recent past. The CHRF has sought permission from local officials to organize the march, but the request remains pending.

Kazakhstan (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 0720 local time (0120 UTC) on 27 December 2019, Bek Air Flight 2100 — with 98 people, including five crew members, on board — crashed into a two-story building in Almaty’s Almerek area shortly after departing the adjacent Almaty International Airport (UAAA/ALA). The Fokker 100 aircraft — registration UP-F1007 — lost altitude immediately after takeoff, hit a concrete barrier and crashed into the building. Video footage showed that the front part of the wrecked fuselage was in the building, whereas the aircraft’s rear end was on a field next to the airport premises. At least 12 people were killed in the crash and 66 others aboard the aircraft were injured. At least 49 people are receiving medical treatment for injuries; 18 of those injured are in critical condition. At least four foreign nationals — including a Chinese, a Kyrgyz and two Ukrainians — were on the passenger list, but their conditions were unknown. The crash did not disrupt flight operations at the airport. The aircraft was en route to the capital Nur-Sultan at the time of the crash. Kazakh civil aviation officials suspended flight authorization for Bek Air, forcing the airline to cancel all its scheduled flights; in addition, all Fokker-100 aircraft in the country are grounded until further notice. Authorities have launched a probe and are investigating the possibility of crew error or technical failure as being the cause of the crash.


AUSTRALASIA

Fiji / South Pacific Islands (Security threat levels – 2 / 1): As of 1500 UTC on 27 December 2019, Tropical Cyclone Sarai was located approximately 250 km (155 mi) west-southwest of Suva, Fiji’s capital, and was moving southeast at a speed of 17 kph (10 mph), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). At that time, Sarai was generating maximum sustained winds of 102 kph (63 mph), with gusts of up to 130 kph. On its current track, Sarai is forecast to pass near the southwestern coast of Viti Levu island — where Suva is located — early on 28 December. The cyclone is then forecast to track toward Tonga’s Ha’apai islands, where it is expected to cross by 31 December. Authorities have warned of possible flash flooding and landslides due to rains of between 75-150 mm (3-6 in), with isolated maximums of up to 230 mm, on Viti Levu island. Fiji Airways canceled at least 54 domestic and international flights prior to Sarai’s arrival, but flights are expected to resume by 29 December. Transportation authorities have advised all residents and travelers on the island to shelter in place and avoid all travel until weather conditions improve.


EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): As of 27 December 2019, trade unions have entered the 23rd consecutive day of strikes against a proposed pension reform. Transportation disruptions are ongoing across the country but conditions continue to improve as more workers return to work. National rail operator Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) announced that 60% of long-distance TGV trains are currently operating; however, the suburban Transilien trains and the Transport express regional (TER) trains continue to operate at 20% and 40% capacity, respectively. In Paris, the Réseau Express Régional (RER) is operating at a significantly reduced level, with most trains only available during rush hour, although most buses and tram services are operational. Eurostar continues to run a reduced schedule and has announced that the schedule will continue through 31 December.

While ground transportation services have improved over the strike period, union leaders have not indicated an end to the strike. Disruptions are expected to continue into January 2020, as unions and government officials are not expected to resume negotiations until 6 January.


SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Central African Republic (Security threat level – 5): On 26 December 2019, significant clashes broke out between local militias and traders in the capital Bangui’s PK5 neighborhood. Officials stated that fighting began on the evening of 24 December after shopkeepers attacked the militiamen attempting to collect taxes from the businesses. United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) personnel have cordoned off the neighborhood and entered the area in an attempt to control the fighting between the two groups. At least 47 people were killed and 70 others were injured during the fighting. Additionally, over 50 shops and dozens of vehicles were set ablaze during the violence.


GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

India (Security threat level – 3): On 27 December 2019, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi issued a Security Alert that reads in part as follows:

“Location: India

“Event: U.S. citizens in India should exercise caution in light of continued protests throughout the country in response to the approval of the Citizenship Amendment Act and avoid all areas with demonstrations. It is important that you monitor local media outlets for updates on demonstrations, road and mass transit closures, curfews, and possible impact on air travel. Intermittent internet and mobile phone service outages are also possible. The government-imposed law that prohibits political gatherings of four or more people – known as Section 144 – remains in effect in certain areas. Indian press reports there are plans for a “Million Man March” demonstration in Hyderabad over the weekend of December 28-29; local authorities have not yet approved the march or agreed to a specific time or location.”

Mozambique (Security threat level – 3): On 26 December 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Maputo issued a Security Alert that reads in part as follows:

“Location: Some sections of the EN1 and EN6 in Sofala and Manica provinces due to violent attacks on vehicles.

“Event: There have been recent and ongoing violent attacks against vehicles, especially trucks and buses, along sections of these highways resulting in serious injuries and deaths. Attacks have occurred on the EN1 between Chibabava and Gorongosa, and along the EN6 between Chimoio in Manica Province and Tica in Sofala Province.”