Worldview Security Update – September 30, 2019
30-Sep-19

AMERICAS

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): Large-scale, nationwide anti-government protests are scheduled to take place in Haiti on 30 September 2019. Opposition leaders have called for supporters to block streets and bring the country to a virtual standstill. Anti-government protests escalated in scale and intensity on 27 September, when protesters set fire to businesses and police stations throughout the country. In the wealthy enclave of Petion-Ville, located in the capital Port-au-Prince, demonstrators set fire to an electronics store, banks and car dealerships. Protesters in the informal settlement of Cité Soleil destroyed the police headquarters amid clashes with police officers. A number of injuries and fatalities occurred during the clashes. In the northern city of Gonaïves, the capital of the Artibonite department, protesters set fire to several government office buildings. In the city of Saint-Marc, located between Gonaïves and Port-au-Prince, protesters armed with machetes clashed with police officers. In the southern city of Les Cayes, protesters vandalized buildings housing several non-governmental organizations and fuel stations; protesters also attacked a police station in the city and disarmed the stationed officers. Large-scale protests continued in the country over the weekend of 28-29 September.

In a related development, on 29 September leaders of the Catholic Church in Haiti called on President Jovenel Moïse to resolve the unrest. Moïse had previously asked for the assistance of the organization of the Religions for Peace Haiti (RPPH) to moderate talks with the opposition on 26 September. Meanwhile, on the morning of 30 September acting Prime Minister Jean Michel Lapin announced a reshuffle, appointing four new Cabinet ministers to existing positions. The action is highly unlikely to quell the current unrest.

In recent weeks, violent, disruptive demonstrations have taken place in Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haïtien, and in other cities and towns throughout Haiti. Previous protester tactics have included setting up roadblocks throughout Port-au-Prince and other areas and setting fire to businesses and police stations. Protesters have engaged in prolonged, disruptive protests for several weeks due to increased fuel prices and corruption allegations against the government. The protesters have demanded the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, who has refused to step down from office.

Mexico (Security threat level – 4): Tropical Storm Narda is expected to strengthen and become a tropical storm later on 30 September 2019. As of 0600 local time (1200 UTC), Narda was located approximately 35 km (20 mi) north-northwest of the island of Las Isla Marias, Nayarit, and about 115 km south of the coastal town of Mazatlan, Sinaloa, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. At that time, Narda was moving northwest at about 24 kph (15 mph) and had maximum sustained winds of 55 kph with higher gusts. The center of Narda is projected to move over the Gulf of California near the coast of northwestern mainland Mexico from 30 September-1 October.

In Jalisco state, authorities have suspended schools in Puerto Vallarta and in nearby areas prone to flooding. On 29 September the storm downed trees and caused flash floods in Guerrero’s popular resort town of Acapulco. Thus far, there has been one storm-related fatality — which occurred in Oaxaca’s San Pedro Mixtepec town — when a local man drowned while trying to cross a river. The storm is expected to produce an additional 75-150 mm (3-6 in) of rain in Jalisco, Nayarit, and Sinaloa states, with isolated maximums of up to 250-380 mm in some areas. The states of Colima, Michoacán and Guerrero are expected to receive 25-100 mm of rain, with isolated maximums of up to 250 mm, while the states of Baja California Sur and Sonora are expected to receive 25-50 mm of rain. The heavy rainfall could result in dangerous flash floods and mudslides. Additionally, swells that Narda generates will likely affect portions of the western and southwestern Mexican coast and the eastern coast of Baja California Sur and in the Isla Marias archipelago; these swells may cause dangerous surf and rip current conditions.

A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued from the areas between the municipality of San Blas, Nayarit, to the port of Topolobampo, Sinaloa, and the for the Islas Marías archipelago. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from the areas between the port of Topolobampo and the city of Guaymas, Sonora.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): Over the weekend of 28-29 September 2019, anti-government protesters clashed with police officers across Hong Kong. On 29 September clashes began shortly before 1430 local time (0630 UTC) — which was the start time for a planned march from SOGO Mall in Causeway Bay to the Central Government Complex in Admiralty — when authorities arrested a well-known activist outside the mall. Protesters responded by throwing objects at police officers, who deployed tear gas to disperse the crowd. Meanwhile, riot police deployed tear gas, water cannons, bean bag rounds and rubber bullets, and organized charges to disperse demonstrators who were marching from Causeway Bay to Admiralty district and other areas in Wan Chai district. Protesters threw bricks, stones and Molotov cocktails at riot police and set numerous fires throughout the area; several buildings and MTR stations — including the Causeway Bay and Wan Chai stations — were damaged or vandalized during the unrest. In another incident, at approximately 1745 local time, an undercover police officer fired one live round into the air to disperse a crowd of demonstrators who allegedly surrounded and assaulted a group of four plainclothes officers near Southorn Playground in Wan Chai. Separately, protesters engaged in clashes and standoffs with police officers at the Mong Kok police station in Kowloon for several hours; police officers fired tear gas and used batons to disperse the demonstrators. Police officers arrested more than 100 protesters over the course of the day. Additionally, at least three journalists were injured in the violence; one of those injured was struck with a tear gas canister. Authorities claimed that at least eight police officers were also injured, but there were no reports of injuries to protesters.

Previously, on the evening of 28 September, riot police clashed with protesters near the Central Government Headquarters Complex, which includes the Legislative Council building (LegCo). Riot police officers on Harcourt Road deployed water cannons, tear gas and pepper spray to disperse demonstrators, who threw bricks, stones and at least two Molotov cocktails over water-filled barricades toward buildings in the complex. Police officers stationed on rooftops of the government complex reportedly fired rubber bullets at demonstrators. Meanwhile, the planned “stress test” at Hong International Airport (VHHH/HKG) did not cause any significant disruptions to airport operations.

As reported in previous editions of Hot Spots, a number of demonstrations are planned in Hong Kong on 1 October, the 70th National Day of the People’s Republic of China. A protest march is scheduled to begin along East Point Road in Causeway Bay at 1300 local time and end at Chater Garden in Central. Additional protests are scheduled to begin at the same in Tsuen Wan, Sha Tin, Sham Shui Po, Wong Tai Sin, Wan Chai and Mong Kok. A demonstration outside the U.K. Consulate in Admiralty is expected to begin by 1200 local time. Travelers and expatriates in Hong Kong should anticipate disruptions due to these planned gatherings as well as probable impromptu protests.

India (Security threat level – 3): As of 30 September 2019, monsoon rains that began on 27 September continue to affect Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states, resulting in disruptions to transportation and general services, such as health care and power supplies. In Patna, the Bihar state capital, dozens of boats are providing emergency services in the streets. The Bihar State Disaster Management Authority warned people to stay home for the next 72 hours. In Uttar Pradesh, the state government requested the assistance of the Indian air force for rescue operations and to deliver emergency supplies. Thus far, at least 100 people have been killed in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states due to the rains.

Indonesia (Security threat level – 4): On the evening of 30 September 2019, clashes broke out between police officers and demonstrators at protests against proposed criminal code changes in Jakarta, the national capital, and Samarinda, the capital of East Kalimantan province. In Jakarta, police officers clashed with protesters who had gathered near the People’s Consultative Assembly compound in Senayan, central Jakarta. Police officers deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators, who threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at the officers; however, there were no reports of significant injuries. Authorities also shut down nearby Palmerah railway station due to the clashes.

Meanwhile, in Samarinda, police officers deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd when demonstrators refused to disperse after a planned protest concluded at 1800 local time (1000 UTC). There were no reports of injuries or arrests in Samarinda.
Taiwan (Security threat level – 1): As of 0900 UTC on 30 September 2019, Typhoon Mitag was located approximately 300 km (185 mi) south-southeast of the capital Taipei and was moving northward at 20 kph (13 mph), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). At that time, the typhoon had maximum sustained winds of 140 kph with gusts of up to 167 kph. The storm is forecast to make landfall along the coastal areas of Yilan county on the evening of 30 September. In preparation for the storm, more than 150 flights scheduled to operate through Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (RCTP/TPE) have been canceled. In addition, authorities have halted ferry services and shut down stretches of several highways due to potential floods and landslides. Additionally, approximately 12,000 soldiers have been placed on standby to assist with rescue operations, should they be necessary. Meanwhile, nearly 2,700 residences across the island lost power on the morning of 30 September. Mitag is forecast to approach Shanghai, China, on 1 October, following its passage over Taiwan.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1630 local time (1430 UTC) on 28 September 2019, thousands of people demonstrated across several cities in France, including Bordeaux, Marseille, Paris and Toulouse. The protests comprise the 46th consecutive weekend of “yellow vest” demonstrations. In Toulouse, police officers near Capitol Square deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse approximately 1,000 protesters who were marching from Place Wilson toward rue d’Alsace-Lorraine. Transportation officials diverted at least 13 public bus lines, and the airport and city center shuttles suspended operations. Police officers arrested at least one person in Toulouse, but there were no reports of injuries due to the clashes. Additional violence occurred in the city of Montpellier, where approximately 300 protesters clashed with police officers. At least four officers were injured and officials arrested at least nine demonstrators; similar protests in other French cities concluded peacefully.

Portugal (Security threat level – 2): As of 0900 UTC on 30 September 2019, Hurricane Lorenzo was located approximately 1,125 km (1,815 mi) west-southwest of Azores Islands, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. At that time, Lorenzo, a Category 2 storm, was moving north-northeast at approximately 13 kph (20 mph) and had maximum sustained winds of 165 kph with higher gusts. Currently, a Hurricane Watch is in effect for Flores, Corvo, Faial, Pico, São Jorge, Graciosa and Terceira islands, while a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for São Miguel and Santa Maria islands. The storm is expected to produce approximately 150 mm (6 in) of rain on western parts of the Azores during its passage near the islands in the early hours of 2 October. The rainfall could cause hazardous flooding in the area.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Saudi Arabia (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1235 local time (0935 UTC) on 29 September 2019, a large-scale fire broke out at a high-speed, electric-train rail station in Jeddah. Firefighters responding to the incident took approximately 12 hours to contain the blaze. Five people were injured and transported to the hospital, while four others were treated for minor injuries at the scene. Authorities are investigating to determine the cause of the fire; officials suspended train service for approximately five hours while they battled the blaze, but normal services have since resumed.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On 27 September 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Ecuador, which reads in part as follows: “ A strike has been declared in Carchi province (on the northern border with Colombia), causing blockage of roads including the Panamerican Highway. Public interstate transport is suspended along the province until further notice. Travellers coming from Colombia to Ecuador, and those in country intending to reach the immigration checkpoint in ‘Rumichaca,’ Tulcan (in Carchi) are likely to face difficulties in reaching their destination. If possible, you should seek an alternative route and means of transport. Follow local media and avoid any gatherings as they can turn violent. If you are in need of urgent assistance call +593 2 3972 200 and select option 2 for consular assistance."

Japan (Security threat level – 1): On 27 September 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Japan, which reads in part as follows: “A typhoon is expected to bring heavy rain and winds to wide areas of Japan in the week commencing 30 September 2019, with potential disruption to transport and other essential services. You should monitor news and follow the advice of the local authorities; if you are due to travel, check with transport operators for changes to schedules.”

Tanzania (Security threat level – 3): On 27 September 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Travel Advisory for Tanzania, which remains unchanged at a “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution.” The updated Travel Advisory reads in part as follows:
“Exercise increased caution in Tanzania due to crime, terrorism, health issues, and targeting of LGBTI persons…
“On September 10, 2019, CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) were made aware of unofficial reports regarding the unexplained death of a person two days earlier from probable Ebola in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania. This individual reportedly traveled around the country while ill, including to the cities of Songea, Njombe, and Mbeya.”

The full text of the travel advisory is available here .