Travelers should avoid all gatherings related to the Presidential Primary Elections on Sunday, January 27. Protests have been planned at public plazas and electoral courts from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM local time. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal’s approval of President Evo Morales’ candidacy for a fourth term in office has sparked opposition protests across the country.
Travelers in Ceara, including Fortaleza’s metropolitan area, should continue to exercise caution amid an ongoing campaign of violence by organized criminal gangs against the state. More than 240 gang-related incidents, mostly arson attacks, but also shootings and bombings, have been reported since January 2. In recent days, fires have been set to vehicles and schools, while there have been several hoax bomb alerts. Security has been reinforced along highways, and checkpoints have been established while additional security force personnel have been deployed to the state.
Today, travelers in Toronto should avoid a march by students from Yonge-Dundas Square to Queen’s Park at 2:00 PM local time. Students are protesting the provincial government’s announcement to make changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program, a financial aid program for students. Students from areas across Ontario are expected to attend the planned rally, which could cause local travel disruption.
Today through Monday, January 28, travel to Venezuela should be deferred due to the current political crisis and associated anti-government protests. Travelers in country should minimize movement. Opposition-led demonstrations have continued in Caracas and other urban centers; security forces are likely to keep using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse such gatherings. On Wednesday, January 23, US President Donald Trump recognized Juan Guaido, leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, as Venezuela’s interim President. President Nicolas Maduro subsequently declared that US Diplomatic and Consular officials had 72 hours to leave the country after breaking off diplomatic relations with the US.
AFRICA & THE MIDDLE EAST
Non-essential travel to the Extreme North region and all travel to areas within 20 miles of the Nigerian border should be deferred following an attempted kidnapping of an expatriate in Manguirlda on Wednesday, January 23. Suspected members of the Nigerian-based extremist Islamist group Boko Haram attacked the town and attempted to abduct a Western priest. The attack was repelled by security forces; at least three people were killed.
All travel to rural areas of North Kivu and Ituri provinces should be deferred due to an ongoing outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in several areas. On January 8, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 628 cases, 580 of which are confirmed, and more than 380 fatalities. The response to the outbreak has been hindered by an escalation in violence in affected areas, prompting some health organizations to suspend operations. On December 27, the Health Ministry reported that a transit center in Beni was attacked by protesters demonstrating over the Presidential Election.
Former President Laurent Gbagbo was acquitted of crimes against humanity by judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on January 15. Travelers in Abidjan and other urban centers should expect and avoid further protests in the coming days over the verdict and related developments. Disruptive protests occurred on January 15-17 in several areas of Abidjan district, as well as in Bouake and Korhogo. On January 18, the ICC suspended Gbagbo’s release following a new prosecution appeal; the next hearing will take place on February 1.
Today, travelers in Beirut should plan routes avoiding a demonstration over the death of a Syrian refugee. Participants will gather at 6:00 PM local time at Le Bristol Hotel in Verdun before marching to the Municipality building. Although the march is expected to be peaceful and relatively small, it may cause traffic disruption, potentially along Spears Street. There will also likely be a heightened security force presence in the vicinity of the march.
Travelers should plan journeys accounting for disruption during the passage of Tropical Storms Desmond and Eketsang. The Meteorological Services of Madagascar has issued a Yellow Cyclone Warning (24-48 hours before impact) for strong winds and heavy rain in districts across southern and southwestern regions, including Androy, Anosy, Atsimo Andrefana, Menabe, Boeny and Melaky, as well as the northern regions of Diana and Sava. Flash floods and landslides have been reported in coastal areas, particularly the Ambilobe district, as Desmond passes over the Mozambique Channel.
Ten Chadian peacekeepers from the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) were killed, and at least 25 others injured when a convoy of gunmen attacked a UN camp in the northern town of Aguelhok on January 20. The casualty toll is one of the highest inflicted on MINUSMA by a militant attack since its mission began in 2013. All travel to northern and central regions should be deferred due to the activities of militant and armed groups.
Travelers should avoid all political gatherings linked to the first round of the Presidential Election on February 24. Campaigning will officially start on February 3 and will end on February 22. The National Autonomous Electoral Commission (CENA) is expected to release the provisional results between February 25 and 27; the date of a possible second round has not yet been announced. The election will take place amid increased tensions and a heightened risk of unrest after two key opposition candidates were barred from standing, increasing President Macky Sall’s chances of securing a second term.
On Monday, January 28, travelers should anticipate disruption due to a nationwide strike by unions and public sector workers. Thousands of workers, including members of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers, will stage related protests to demand higher wages. Demonstrations are expected in Mbabane, Pigg’s Peak, Madlangempisi, Manzini, Mankayane, Nhlangano, Hlathikhulu, and Siteki.
ASIA & THE PACIFIC
Today through Sunday, January 27, travelers in northwestern parts of Western Australia state should plan journeys accounting for potential disruption due to the passage of Tropical Cyclone Riley. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the weather system, currently a Category Two Cyclone (second-lowest level on a five-tier scale), is moving southwest, parallel to the Pilbara Coast. A Warning Zone has been issued between Whim Creek and Onslow, and a Watch Zone is in place between Onslow and Exmouth.
The winter flu season is underway in Hong Kong and a surge in influenza activity has been recorded. Flu is a viral illness, causing a sudden fever, cough, headache, weakness, and muscular pains. Most cases are mild although some can be severe or even fatal. Pregnant women, adults over 65, and young children are at higher risk of severe illness. Travelers should prevent infection by being vaccinated prior to travel and paying strict attention to hygiene.
Travel to Buthidaung, Maungdaw, and Rathedaung townships should be for essential purposes only due to communal tensions and ongoing security operations against local insurgent groups. Yesterday, the government accused Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militants of attacking a police post in Maungdaw, injuring three police officers; on January 16, the same group was accused of ambushing a police vehicle in Maungdaw, injuring six police officers. The two incidents come after intensified security operations on January 5-16 against the ethnic-Rakhine Buddhist Arakan Army (AA) in Buthidaung.
Today, travelers in Vienna should anticipate disruption and avoid all protests against the “Academics’ Ball,” an annual event organized by the far-right Freedom Party of Austria. A demonstration will begin at Schottentor, outside the University of Vienna campus at 5:00 PM local time, while the ball itself will take place at 5:00 PM local time at the Hofburg. Local scuffles between participants and police have occurred during previous such protests, while precedent suggests that traffic diversions and road closures will be instituted in the city center.
On Sunday, January 27, travelers in Brussels should anticipate disruption and plan routes bypassing a march by environmental activists. Demonstrators will depart at 2:00 PM local time from the Bruxelles Nord station and march towards Place du Luxembourg, adjacent to the European Parliament. Protesters are calling on the EU and the government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The event is expected to be well attended and cause local disruption.
Travelers in urban centers should continue to exercise caution and avoid weekly protests by supporters of the “Yellow Vests” movement. Nationwide demonstrations are planned for tomorrow, including in Paris at 2:00 PM local time at Place de la Republique. There are plans for the protests to continue overnight in an attempt to maintain media interest and highlight alleged police brutality. In addition, a counter-protest by the “Red Scarves” group will take place at 2:00 PM local time on Sunday, January 27, also at Place de la Republique. The forthcoming gatherings are liable to be forcibly dispersed by authorities.
Several recent notable incidents in the North Caucasus republics of Dagestan, Ingushetia, and Kabardino-Balkaria have been reported. Yesterday, four assailants used knives to attack traffic police personnel after their vehicle was stopped for a check in Nalchik. The officers responded with gunfire, killing three attackers and injuring one. On January 11, three suspected terrorists were killed in a shootout with security forces near Agachaul village in Karabudakhkentsky district. On January 12, unidentified individuals fired on a car carrying local counterterrorism officials in the Sunzhensky district of Ingushetia, injuring three police officers.