Worldview Security Update – January 15, 2020
15-Jan-20

ASIA

Philippines (Security threat level – 4): As of 15 January 2020, Taal Volcano continues to emit ash and lava at a consistent rate since 13 January. Although the volcano continues to affect adjacent communities, the situation in the capital Manila, which is approximately 65 km (40 mi) north of the volcano, remains mostly normal. Operations at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (RPLL/MNL) are operating without significant disruptions. Additionally, schools and most businesses in Metro Manila have reopened after authorities closed them as a precautionary measure. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) indicated that Taal has exhibited generally weaker activity over the last 24 hours. Likely as a precaution, PHIVOLCS maintains an Alert Level 4, which means a “hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days,” and reiterated that anyone within 14 km of the volcano should evacuate. Following Taal’s initial eruption on 12 January, at least 465 tremors have been recorded in the vicinity of the volcano, indicating that a larger eruption is still possible.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Lebanon (Security threat level – 4): On 14 January 2020, thousands of protesters gathered in downtown Beirut to participate in the “week of wrath” protests against the policies of the Central Bank and the current political impasse in the country. Protesters blocked major highways in and around Beirut during demonstrations. On Hamra Street near the Central Bank building, protesters threw rocks at police officers — whoresponded by deploying tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd — and vandalized several other bank buildings along Hamra Street. Officers arrested at least 59 people; there were no reports of injuries. Protests also occurred in the northern city of Tripoli, located approximately 80 km (50 mi) north of Beirut, although these demonstrations remained largely peaceful.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Sierra Leone (Security threat level – 4): On the afternoon of 14 January 2020, violent clashes broke out between members of rival political parties in the central Brookfields area of the capital city Freetown. The clashes occurred during a funeral procession for a senior member of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP); supporters of the opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party reportedly threw stones as the procession passed by an APC party office. At least one APC supporter suffered serious stab wounds during clashes between the two groups. Police officers dispersed the attackers without further injuries, but reportedly made no arrests in connection with the violence. There were no further reports of injury.

Sudan (Security threat level – 5): As of 15 January 2020, Sudanese security forces in the capital city Khartoum have restored order and seized weapons from mutinous former employees of the General Intelligence Service (GIS) following clashes that occurred between the two parties throughout the day on 14 January. The clashes broke out at approximately 1200 local time (1000 UTC), when former GIS employees occupied several government buildings, staged roadblocks and sporadically fired live ammunition into the air throughout Khartoum, including the Riyadh and Kafouri areas, as well as the Soba residential area located just east of Khartoum International Airport (HSSS/KRT). At least three people were killed during the clashes, according to the Sudanese Central Doctors’ Committee. The unrest prompted officials to close Sudanese airspace and suspend operations at Khartoum International Airport for most of the day on 14 January; both the airport and Sudanese airspace reopened and resumed operations at approximately 0100 local time on 15 January (2300 UTC on 14 January).

Analyst Comment: Reports indicate that a dispute related to severance pay for former employees of the GIS — formerly known as the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) — sparked the clashes. Sudan is in the process of restructuring its security forces as part of the formation of a transitional civil-military government following the April 2019 ouster of former President Omar al-Bashir. Following the implementation of the transitional government in August 2019, former NISS employees were forced to either resign from their posts or integrate into Sudan’s regular security forces.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

China (Security threat level – 3): On 15 January 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing issued a Health Alert, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Wuhan, Hankou area

"Event: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Watch Level 1 Alert (be aware and practice usual precautions) for an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan, China, preliminarily identified to be caused by a novel (new) coronavirus.

"Travelers to Wuhan should:

  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water.

"If you have traveled to Wuhan and feel sick, you should

  • Stay home. Except for seeking medical care, avoid contact with others.
  • Don’t travel while sick.
  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell the doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing."

Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On 15 January 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Ecuador, which reads in part as follows: “The Cumbre volcano on Fernandina island in the Galapagos archipelago began erupting on 12 January 2020. The volcanic activity is being closely monitored. Reports show lava flow in the eastern part of the island and gas emissions are moving towards the west and north-western part. No impact on tourists is expected given that the volcano is located on an uninhabited island. However, this assesment may change according to weather and other conditions. If the conditions change, the local authorities may restrict tour boats and implement other safety measures.”

Nigeria (Security threat level – 5): On 15 January 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Nigeria, which reads in part as follows: "There has been an increase in insurgent attacks in Borno State, including an attack on Monguno on 7 January 2020. If you’re in Borno State against FCO advice, keep in touch with the authorities and the wider community on the security situation and make sure your procedures and contingency plans are up to date.”