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Travel Updates and Advisories

We email frequent travel warnings and advisories to update our customers about current safety concerns and dangers in countries around the world. Travel updates include air ticket specials, baggage allowance, hotels, holiday packages, visa requirements, weather conditions, political situations and travel insurance.

25 July 2017

ANGOLA (Security threat level – 3)

NEW LAW TO LIMIT POWER OF FUTURE PRESIDENTS

On 21 July 2017, Angola’s parliament passed a law that will limit the ability of future presidents to remove security and defense officials. Under the new legislation, the president will only be able to replace the heads of the army, police and intelligence services under limited circumstances, including due to old age or criminal acts. The opposition has objected to the legislation, claiming that it will limit the effectiveness of the president. The opposition also objected to the timing of the vote, as it came just over one month before the Angola’s general election on 23 August that will usher in a new head of state, the country’s first since Jose Eduardo dos Santos came to office in 1979. (21 Jul 2017)

BANGLADESH (Security threat level – 4)

STUDENTS PROTEST IN DHAKA’S AZIMPUR AREA

On 21 July 2017, students of the Eden Mohila College staged a rally in front of their school to protest the police action against student protesters in Dhaka one day earlier. The college is located in Dhaka’s Azimpur area, and the protesters blocked Azimpur Road for approximately 30 minutes during the rally, disrupting transportation on the roadway. Reports did not specify the size of the protest, which appears to have been a peaceful and small-scale action. On 20 July police officers used tear gas and baton charges against students who blocked roads and vandalized vehicles in Dhaka’s Shahbag area; two students were injured. (21 Jul 2017)

CAMBODIA (Security threat level – 3)

NEW RAILWAY SYSTEM TO PROVIDE TRANSPORT FROM PHNOM PENH AIRPORT

On 21 July 2017, Cambodia’s Transport Minister announced the construction of a new railway system that will allow passengers to travel from the center of Phnom Penh to Phnom Penh International Airport (VDPP/PNH) in approximately 15 minutes. The minister stated that the project, which is expected to conclude in April 2018, will not require evictions from nearby villages. Construction work will take place at night in order to avoid exacerbating daily traffic congestion in the city. (21 Jul 2017)

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (Security threat level – 5)

CHRISTIAN MILITIAS ATTACK BANGASSOU

On 23 July 2017, U.N. officials announced that Christian militias attacked Bangassou, which lies on the southern border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, multiple times in the previous week. An attack on 23 July targeted U.N. peacekeepers who were escorting water tankers, and militants killed one peacekeeper and injured three other people. Another attack occurred on 21 July, when militants attempted to capture a local cathedral where hundreds of Muslims are residing. U.N. authorities blamed anti-balaka fighters for both attacks. (23 Jul 2017)

CHINA (Security threat level – 2)

SHANGHAI RECORDS HIGHEST-EVER TEMPERATURES, ISSUES RED ALERT

On 21 July 2017, the Shanghai weather bureau issued a heat-related “red alert” for the city, warning citizens to keep cool and avoid too much time outdoors; the warning applies especially to children, the sick and the elderly. The bureau issued the alert after temperatures hit 40.9 degrees C (105.6 degrees F), marking the highest ever recorded temperature in Shanghai by the Xujiahui weather station since its establishment in 1873; the weather station recorded the previous highest temperature during the summer of 2013. The weather bureau stated that the heat will likely continue until the beginning of the typhoon season in August. (21 Jul 2017)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO (Security threat level – 5)

ECONOMIC ISSUES PROMPT CALLS FOR STRIKE

On 21 July 2017, civil service leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) called for a general strike in response to economic issues, including rising inflation and stagnant wages. The Collective Syndicates of the Public Administration union called on all public workers to stay home until their grievances are resolved. The economic problems coincide with persistent political issues related to President Joseph Kabila remaining in office past the end of his mandate. In addition to having negative economic effects, the political problems have also fueled security concerns. For example, on 21 July students staged a protest at Kinshasa University to demand the release of a classmate who was arrested during earlier anti-government demonstrations. Security officers fired tear gas at the protesters; there were no immediate reports of injuries or arrests. (21 Jul 2017)

EGYPT (Security threat level – 4)

EGYPTIAN SECURITY FORCES KILL EIGHT HASM MOVEMENT MEMBERS IN FAYOUN

On 23 July 2017, Egyptian authorities announced that police officers had killed eight suspected Hasm Movement members in Fayoun. Reportedly, security forces engaged the militants at a training camp and discovered weapons and ammunition at the facility. Police officers also reportedly arrested five Hasm members in Giza and Sharqiya in separate incidents. (23 Jul 2017)

GERMANY (Security threat level – 3)

TURKISH GOVERNMENT REPORTEDLY CONDUCTING INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS TO INFLUENCE TURKS IN GERMANY

On 21 July 2017, reports emerged that the Turkish government is conducting intelligence operations to influence the Turkish population in Germany. German intelligence officials stated that Turkish intelligence was attempting to intimidate Turks who oppose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, including supporters of Fethullah Gülen. Intelligence officials also expressed concern about the increasing radicalization among Turkish groups in Germany. (21 Jul 2017)

GREECE (Security threat level – 3)

U.K. FCO UPDATES TRAVEL ADVICE REGARDING TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS TO KOS ISLAND

On 22 July 2017, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice for Greece to include the following:

“Kos Airport is fully operational and expects to operate a full service from Saturday 22 July. Ferry services are being diverted to other ports on the island of Kos, given damage to the main port. If you have concerns about flights or ferry services, please contact your airline, ferry company or tour operator. (22 Jul 2017)

U.S. EMBASSY IN ATHENS ISSUES SECURITY MESSAGE REGARDING DEMONSTRATION

On 21 July 2017, the U.S. Embassy in Athens warned of the following demonstration:

Demonstration for Saturday:

  • Time: 19:00
  • Where: Embassy of Islamic Republic of Iran (16 Stratigou Kallari Street, Paleo Psychico).
  • Who: Kurds living in Greece” (21 Jul 2017)

SPATE OF ANARCHIST ACTIVITY THIS WEEK IN ATHENS

Several anarchist-related incidents occurred in Athens and its suburbs over the course of 17-20 July 2017. Beginning on the night of 17 July, various small groups of anarchists clashed with police officers in the Exarchia area after a court ruled against an appeal for release made by a man convicted for a terrorism offense. While reports did not provide details, the man was likely convicted on domestic terrorism charges related to anarchist movements. Groups of anarchists used Molotov cocktails to attack police forces in the district. Violence continued through the night of 19 July. Exarchia is well-known for frequent anarchist activity. Separately, in the early hours of 20 July, youths vandalized buildings in the Athens suburb of Zografou, located less than 5 km (3 mi) east of central Athens. (20 Jul 2017)

INDONESIA (Security threat level – 4)

INDONESIAN PRESIDENT ISSUES “SHOOT TO KILL” ORDER AGAINST DRUG DEALERS

On 23 June 2017 President Joko Widodo ordered the country’s police forces to “shoot to kill” drug dealers and traffickers who resist arrest. The order comes amid an increasing crackdown on drug traffickers, particularly those that enter the country from abroad. On 21 July police officers shot and killed a Taiwanese man who they allege was part of a methamphetamine smuggling ring. (23 Jul 2017)

IRAN / SAUDI ARABIA (Security threat levels – 3 / 3)

IRAN DETAINS SAUDI FISHING VESSEL AND CREW

On 22 July 2017, reports emerged that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) stopped a Saudi fishing vessel and detained the crew. Local Iranian authorities from Bushehr province stated that the fishing boat entered Iranian waters and that there were five Indian nationals aboard. According to Iranian officials, this is the second time in July that Iranian security forces have detained a Saudi vessel in Iranian waters. (22 Jul 2017)

IRELAND (Security threat level – 2)

DEMONSTRATORS PROTEST BROTHELS IN DUBLIN

On 22 July 2017, demonstrators gathered on Dublin’s Dorset Street to protest against brothels operating in the city. The protesters reportedly timed their demonstration to coincide with a nearby concert at Croke Park in an effort to garner more public attention. There were no reports of violence associated with the protest. (22 Jul 2017)

ISRAEL (Security threat level – 3)

ISRAEL TO REPLACE METAL DETECTORS OUTSIDE TEMPLE MOUNT WITH FENCES AND GATES

On 22 July 2017, reports emerged that Israeli security officials intend to replace the controversial metal detectors outside the Temple Mount (al-Haram al-Sharif) with fences and gates. The new barriers will be designed to funnel entering crowds so that security forces can screen individuals entering the holy site, and authorities may limit items that individuals can bring into the site, including potentially prohibiting backpacks. Jerusalem police and political officials reportedly agreed on the new measures at a meeting on 22 July. The metal detectors have sparked protests by Palestinians; it is unclear if these proposed alternatives will be acceptable to Palestinian activists. (22 Jul 2017)

JORDAN (Security threat level – 3)

SHOOTING INCIDENT OCCURS AT ISRAELI EMBASSY IN AMMAN

On 23 July 2017, a Jordanian man attacked an Israeli Embassy guard with a screwdriver in Amman. The guard reportedly shot the attacker and unintentionally shot a nearby Jordanian bystander. Both Jordanians died, and the guard suffered injuries in the attack. Israeli officials stated that the attacker was a carpenter who worked in one of the embassy’s residential buildings, and the bystander was the building’s landlord. Following the attack, Jordanian security forces blocked off the area immediately around the embassy. Israeli officials have stated that the guard has diplomatic immunity, protecting him from prosecution in Jordanian courts.

Analyst Comment: While the assailant’s motive is unclear, the incident occurred at a time of increased tensions in the Middle East region over Israeli security measures at the Temple Mount (al-Haram al-Sharif) in Jerusalem. This issue is particularly sensitive in Jordan due to a large Palestinian refugee community in the country. (23 Jul 2017)

LIBYA (Security threat level – 5)

LIBYAN NATIONAL ARMY FORCES CLASH WITH MILITANTS IN BENGHAZI

On 22 July 2017, Libyan National Army (LNA) commanders reported that their forces clashed with armed groups in Benghazi. Officials stated that military forces attacked militants in Benghazi’s Khraibeesh district on 21 July and took control of multiple areas, dismantling approximately 30 mines in the process. Militants reportedly killed six LNA troops during the fighting and injured eight others. (22 Jul 2017)

MEXICO (Security threat level – 4)

SHOOTINGS OCCUR IN MEXICO CITY

On 23 July 2017, at least two shootings occurred in Mexico City. In the first shooting, two attackers who were riding motorcycles opened fire on a bar in Llano Redondo. Authorities stated that four people were in the shooting and that the gunmen escaped. A second shooting occurred in the afternoon in Iztapalapa. Two people died from gunshot wounds, and 10 others were injured. However, it was not clear from authorities’ statement whether a single group of gunmen caused the shooting or if multiple groups exchanged gunfire. Officials have opened investigations into both incidents. (23 Jul 2017)

MEXICAN AUTHORITIES TO TRY FORMER VERACRUZ GOVERNOR FOR ORGANIZED CRIME

On 22 July 2017, law enforcement authorities announced that they will try Javier Duarte, the former governor of the state of Veracruz, for organized crime and handling illicit funds. Authorities allege that Duarte worked with nine other people and oversaw criminal operations in Veracruz, Campeche and Mexico City between 2011 and 2016. Prosecutors also accused Duarte of using shell companies to move illegal funds. Police forces arrested Duarte in April 2017 in Guatemala, and local authorities extradited him back to Mexico on 17 July. (22 Jul 2017)

CARTEL VIOLENCE INCREASES SIGNIFICANTLY IN MEXICO CITY

On 21 July 2017, reports emerged that there has been a significant increase in cartel violence in Mexico City and the surrounding suburbs in the previous two months. In May and June 2017, authorities began 206 murder investigations, the highest recorded number for a two-month period. Mexico City’s mayor has stated that cartels do not operate in the city; however, one veteran police officer stated that La Familia Michoacana and Jalisco New Generation Cartel are present in Mexico City. (21 Jul 2017)

REPORTS ALLEGE CANCUN AND PLAYA DEL CARMEN RESORTS SERVING TOURISTS TAINTED DRINKS

On 21 July 2017, reports emerged alleging that resorts in Cancun and Playa del Carmen have served tourists drinks containing either bootleg alcohol or drugs. Multiple travelers reported blacking out after drinking at area resort bars with little to no memory of the night before and some suspect that during their blackout they were robbed or sexually assaulted. Such reports have surfaced at Iberostar, Secrets and Grand Oasis, among others; however, U.S. consular officials have stated that there is insufficient information to issue a formal warning to U.S. travelers regarding such incidents. (21 Jul 2017)

MOLDOVA (Security threat level – 3)

PARLIAMENT PASSES DECLARATION ASKING RUSSIA TO WITHDRAW TROOPS IN TRANSNISTRIA

On 21 July 2017, the Moldovan parliament passed a declaration asking Russia to withdraw its troops in Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region. The declaration passed with 61 out of 101 legislators voting in favor of it; four members of the opposition Socialist Party refused to vote in protest of the document. Parliament’s adoption of the declaration comes one day before Russia’s deputy prime minister is scheduled to arrive via military aircraft in Chisinau, Moldova’s capital, in order to visit the Transnistria region on the 25th anniversary of the beginning of Russia’s peacekeeping mission there. Despite the announcement by Moldova’s Foreign Ministry that the Russian deputy prime minister will not be permitted to land in Chisinau, the Moldovan parliament speaker admitted that Moldova will likely allow him to land but stressed that he is not welcome. (21 Jul 2017)

NIGERIA (Security threat level – 5)

NIGERIAN MILITARY FORCES FOIL ATTACK IN BORNO STATE

On 23 July 2017, Nigerian military authorities announced that they had foiled an attack in Konduga, located approximately 35 km (21 mi) southeast of Maiduguri. Officials stated that three female suicide bombers attempted to attack military forces operating in the area. Military forces killed the attackers after they failed to heed the soldiers’ warnings to stop. (23 Jul 2017)

POLICE ARREST FIVE ALLEGED BOKO HARAM MILITANTS IN KANO

On 23 July 2017, police officers arrested five alleged Boko Haram militants in Kano. The suspects fire on the arresting officers and threw explosives at them, injuring three police officers. Police officials discovered guns, explosives, military uniforms and face masks in the suspect’s possession. Authorities believe that they were planning attacks on markets and religious sites. (23 Jul 2017)

NORTH KOREA (Security threat level – 3)

NORTH KOREAN ECONOMY GROWS 3.9 PERCENT IN 2016

On 21 July 2017, South Korea’s central bank stated that the North Korean economy grew approximately 3.9 percent in 2016, marking its fastest pace since 1999, when the economy expanded 6.1 percent. The Bank of Korea attributed the growth to an increase in trade volume as well as growth in the mining industry, although there is no indication that the North Korean economy has improved overall. (21 Jul 2017)

UN REPORT POINTS TO SEVERE DROUGHT IN NORTH KOREA

On 21 July 2017, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued a report indicating that North Korea is suffering its worst drought in 16 years. According to the report, the prolonged dry spells have significantly affected the country’s production of staple crops, threatening food security for a larger percentage of the population than usual. The agency stated that North Korea will require greater food imports in order to ensure adequate food supply for the most vulnerable; however, the country has not publicly recognized the negative effects of the drought. Additionally, international donors have become increasingly reluctant to send food, stating that the government should divert resources from its nuclear weapons program in order to feed its population. An estimated 1 million people died in the 1990s when North Korea experienced chronic food shortages from similar incidents of poor weather and crop production. (21 Jul 2017)

PAKISTAN (Security threat level – 5)

CASUALTIES REPORTED AFTER EXPLOSION IN LAHORE

An explosion was reported on 24 July 2017 near the Arfa Karim IT Tower, located in the Ferozepur area of Lahore. Preliminary reports indicated that six people were injured in the blast. No further details are currently available. (24 Jul 2017)

OPPOSITION RALLIES ANTICIPATED IN PAKISTAN

The opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) intends to stage multiple protests on 23 July 2017 in the province of Punjab to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The PPP has yet to release more details on the timing and location of the rallies.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), another opposition party, announced that it is planning celebratory rallies in Islamabad in anticipation of a ruling against Sharif by Pakistan’s Supreme Court. On 21 July the court concluded its hearings regarding a report on corruption allegations against Sharif and his family. The report lent credence to the corruption allegations, and the opposition is optimistic that the Supreme Court will either disqualify Sharif from office outright or order him to stand trial. It is not known when the court will announce its ruling. (21 Jul 2017)

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES (Security threat level – 5)

ISRAELI SECURITY FORCES AND PALESTINIAN ACTIVISTS CLASH IN THE WEST BANK

On 22 July 2017, clashes broke out between Israeli security forces and Palestinian activists. Security forces reportedly sealed off the home of a 19-year-old Palestinian who killed three Israelis living in a West Bank settlement on 21 July, and Palestinian activists reportedly threw stones and petrol bombs at the security forces. Clashes also occurred at the Qalandiya crossing and at al-Azariya. Reports indicate that three Palestinians were in these clashes and at least eight more were injured. The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to hold talks on 24 July to discuss the violence in Jerusalem. (22 Jul 2017)

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY GOVERNMENT FREEZES RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL

On 21 July 2017, Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) announced that the PA will freeze all relations with Israel due to the security measures Israeli authorities placed at the Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem’s Old City. Abbas stated that the PA will freeze all communications with the Israelis and will not resume them until Israel removes the metal detectors it has placed around the site; however, Israeli officials stated that they intended to keep the metal detectors in place. Abbas did not specify what he meant by all contacts; however Israeli media reported that the freeze includes the PA’s security cooperation with Israel.

Analyst Comment: Security cooperation between the PA and Israeli security forces has played a key role in constraining the ability of Hamas and other militant groups to operate in the West Bank. While this latest move is unlikely to have serious effects in the short term, if the PA prolongs the suspension, it is likely that militant activity and terrorist attacks will increase in the West Bank and possibly in Israel as well. (21 Jul 2017)

PARAGUAY (Security threat level – 3)

UK FCO ISSUES UPDATED TRAVEL ADVICE FOR PARAGUAY REGARDING TERRORISM

On 21 July 2017, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Paraguay, which reads as follows:

“Terrorist attacks in Paraguay can’t be ruled out. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.” (21 Jul 2017)

PERU (Security threat level – 3)

PERU’S LABOR MINISTRY REACHES DEAL WITH STRIKING MINERS

On 21 July 2017, Peru’s Labor Ministry announced that it had reached a deal with mining workers, who have been on strike since 19 July. Officials stated that union leaders ended the strike after the government agreed to appoint a labor laws task force, which will include the labor minister and union officials and will discuss mining labor laws. Discussions are scheduled to begin in August 2017. Mining unions called the strike to oppose labor reforms that could have reduced safety in the workplace and job security, and on 20 and 21 July, protesting miners clashed with police forces in Lima. (21 Jul 2017)

U.S. EMBASSY IN LIMA ISSUES SECURITY MESSAGE REGARDING STATE OF EMERGENCY IN CUSCO AND PUNO

On 20 July 2017, the U.S. Embassy in Lima issued the following Security Message: “As a result of ongoing teachers’ strikes in various areas of Peru, the Peruvian government has declared certain parts of Cusco and Puno under a State of Emergency. During a state of emergency, large social gatherings are prohibited, access to certain areas may be restricted, curfews can be put in place, and there will be a greater police presence.

“Travelers are encouraged to stay informed of current developments by contacting Peruvian Tourist Assistance and Information at 511 574-800 or visit the website: http://www.peru.travel/iperu.aspx. You may also find updates on the U.S. Embassy American Citizen Services Facebook page.

“Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can quickly turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.” (20 Jul 2017)

PHILIPPINES (Security threat level – 4)

PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT EXTENDS MARTIAL LAW UNTIL 31 DECEMBER 2017

On 22 July 2017, the Philippine government extended martial law on Mindanao until 31 December 2017; more than two-thirds of the members of the Philippine Congress voted in favor of extending the security measures. The government initially declared martial law on 23 May after militants aligned with the Islamic State (IS) captured the city of Marawi on Mindanao, and security officials have stated that continued imposition of martial law across the island is necessary to defeat the militants and ensure that IS sympathizers do not gain a foothold in other parts of Mindanao. (22 Jul 2017)

NPA AMBUSH KILLS SIX POLICE OFFICERS IN NEGROS ORIENTAL

At 0945 local time (0145 UTC) on 21 July 2017, approximately 15 suspected New People’s Army (NPA) militants ambushed the city councilor of Guihulngan, Negros Oriental, located approximately 100 km (60 mi) southwest of Cebu City across the Tañon Strait. According to a police spokesperson, the city councilor called police to report the ambush, which took place along Barangay Magsaysay. Upon approaching Magsaysay, responding police officers came under heavy fire from approximately 60 NPA rebels; the city police chief and five police officers were killed in the exchange. Following the attack, the Philippine Army stated that it was pursuing the assailants.

Analyst Comment: There has been an uptick in NPA attacks in recent days, which contributed to President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to cancel peace talks with the umbrella Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) movement. The Negros Oriental incident is likely to exacerbate current tensions between the NPA and the government, as reflected by Duterte’s promise to order a military offensive against the NPA following the conclusion of ongoing operations against Islamist militants in Marawi City. (21 Jul 2017)

POLAND (Security threat level – 2)

THOUSANDS OF DEMONSTRATORS PROTEST JUDICIAL REFORMS IN WARSAW

On 23 July 2017, thousands of demonstrators in Warsaw called for the president to veto controversial judicial reform legislation that critics fear would reduce judicial independence. The protesters marched to the Supreme Court for a candlelight vigil, and there were no reports of violence associated with the protest. Opposition media outlets reported that similar protests took place in 100 other towns. In response to the week of demonstrations against the reforms, on 24 July President Andrzej Duda vetoed the two bills, which would have affected the Supreme Court and the National Council of the Judiciary. (23 Jul 2017)

PROTESTERS GATHER IN 100 CITIES IN POLAND TO PROTEST JUDICIAL REFORMS

On 22 July 2017, demonstrators gathered in more than 100 Polish cities, including Warsaw and Krakow, to protest against controversial judicial reforms. There were no reports of violence associated with the demonstrations. The protesters reportedly shouted “traitors” and “disgrace” after reports emerged that Poland’s Senate passed legislation necessary to implement the reforms. Three protests are planned for 23 July and a larger protest is scheduled for 24 July.

Analyst Comment: The proposed judicial reforms would significantly increase the justice minister and parliament’s control over Poland’s judiciary and have sparked a significant backlash both domestically and internationally. Critics are concerned that the legislation would give the ruling Law and Justice Party the ability to stack the courts with its supporters. Protests against the legislation in Warsaw and other cities have occurred almost daily since 16 July, and one local media poll indicated that 55 percent of Poles want the president to veto the reforms, while only 29 percent want him to sign the legislation. The European Commission also raised significant concerns about the reforms’ effects on judicial independence. (22 Jul 2017)

AUTHORITIES EVACUATE 70 PEOPLE IN WARSAW AFTER DISCOVERING UNEXPLODED ORDINANCE

On 21 July 2017, authorities evacuated 70 people at a housing estate in Warsaw after discovering unexploded ordinance from WWII. Construction workers discovered the explosives during their work, and authorities evacuated employees at a nearby bank, supermarket and two gas stations. Authorities closed Lukis, Filomats and Perkun streets while they removed the ordinance. (21 Jul 2017)

THOUSANDS GATHER IN WARSAW TO PROTEST BILL ON SUPREME COURT REFORM

On the evening of 20 July 2017, thousands of protesters gathered in Warsaw, Poland’s capital, to protest a bill that would give the government more control over the Supreme Court. The bill passed parliament’s lower house in a vote of 235-192 with 23 abstentions and now must pass through the upper house and be signed by President Andrzej Duda to become law. Organizers of the protest stated that approximately 50,000 people participated in the rally, while authorities claimed that there were approximately 14,000 participants. Some of the protesters gathered outside the parliament building and repeatedly kicked the metal barricades that blocked them from gaining access to the facility. (20 Jul 2017)

PORTUGAL (Security threat level – 2)

METRO WORKERS THREATEN STRIKE

On 20 July 2017, metro workers in Lisbon threatened to stage two strikes in August in a show of opposition to working conditions. Union members will vote on 25 July whether to move forward with the labor actions, which would take place on 1 and 3 August. Discontent within the ranks of public transportation employees is common in Lisbon. (20 Jul 2017)

RUSSIA (Security threat level – 3)

ACTIVISTS DEMONSTRATE AGAINST INTERNET CENSORSHIP

On 23 July 2017, approximately 1,000 demonstrators held a protest march in Moscow against the Russian government’s internet censorship laws. Protesters chanted slogans against internet censorship and against President Vladimir Putin. Moscow’s municipal government authorized the protests in advance, and there were no reports of violence; however, police officers arrested three demonstrators for handing out leaflets supportive of Putin rival Alexander Navalny. (23 Jul 2017)

HUNDREDS GATHER IN UFA TO PROTEST BASHKORTOSTAN LEADER

On 20 July 2017, hundreds of protesters gathered in Ufa, the capital of the Bashkortostan republic, to demonstrate against Rustem Khamitov, Bashkortostan’s highest-ranking official. The demonstrators held protest signs and complained that under Khamitov’s rule, the mortality rate among minors has increased and an unacceptably large number of schools have closed. The Bashkir People’s Congress, a non-governmental organization (NGO), organized the protest. Khamitov has led Bashkortostan since 2010, when the Kremlin appointed him to the position following the resignation of the republic’s previous leader. (20 Jul 2017)

SENEGAL (Security threat level – 3)

U.S. EMBASSY IN DAKAR ISSUES SECURITY MESSAGE REGARDING PROTESTS

On 21 July 2017, the U.S. Embassy in Dakar issued a Security Message, which reads in part as follows: “The U.S. Embassy has received reports that a political party has announced a protest march on July 25 at 1400 from the Place de L’Independence to the Ministry of Interior. This march is associated with upcoming legislative elections scheduled to take place on July 30. Additional protests may occur before and during election day. Traffic delays should also be expected in the coming week as supporters of various candidates campaign throughout the city in vehicles (covered in speakers) and on foot.” (21 Jul 2017)

SOUTH AFRICA (Security threat level – 3)

SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE MINISTER ANNOUNCES PLAN TO INCREASE AIRPORT SECURITY

On 23 July 2017, the South African minister of police announced a new plan to combat smuggling and other criminal activity at Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport (FAOR/JNB). The plan includes installing new security cameras and increasing police patrols at the facility. The initiative comes after a series of high-profile criminal incidents at the airport, including large-scale drug smuggling incidents and armed robberies. (23 Jul 2017)

EMERGENCY CALL CENTER WORKERS SUSPEND STRIKE

The South African Policing Union (SAPU) announced on 21 July 2017 that it has suspended its strike at the country’s emergency call centers. The union made the decision in order to create a more conducive environment for negotiations. SAPU, however, stressed that its members could resume their strike if the negotiations do not yield adequate results. Approximately 5,000 call center workers began to strike on 18 July to demand higher wages. Police officers assisted with answering emergency calls during the labor action, but there were concerns regarding the level of service that they were able to provide. (21 Jul 2017)

SPAIN (Security threat level – 3)

U.S. EMBASSY IN MADRID ISSUES SECURITY MESSAGE REGARDING DEMONSTRATIONS

On 21 July 2017, the U.S. Embassy in Madrid issued a Security Message warning of a number demonstrations, a list of which can be viewed here. (21 Jul 2017)

SUDAN (Security threat level – 5)

DARFUR TRIBES CLASH SOUTHEAST OF EL-DAIEN

On 22 July 2017, clashes broke out between the Maaliya and Rizeigat tribes approximately 40 km (24 mi) southeast of East Darfur’s capital El-Daien. Reportedly, the fighting killed nine people and injured as many as 18 others. Rizeigat leaders stated that fighting continued on 23 July. While the cause of the fighting is unknown, both tribes have fought over cattle and land ownership in the past. (22 Jul 2017)

SWITZERLAND (Security threat level – 2)

CASUALTIES IN SCHAFFHAUSEN SECURITY INCIDENT

Emerging reports indicate that a lone assailant carried out an attack in the northern Swiss city of Schaffhausen on 24 July 2017. Authorities report that at least five people were injured in the incident, including two seriously. Security officers have sealed off the city center while searching for the suspect. The identity of the perpetrator and their motive(s) remain unknown. (24 Jul 2017)

SYRIA / LEBANON (Security threat levels – 5 / 4)

HEZBOLLAH AND SYRIAN ARMY LAUNCH JOINT OPERATION AGAINST LEBANESE-SYRIAN BORDER TOWNS

On 21 July 2017, Hizballah and the Syrian army launched a joint operation against the Lebanese-Syrian border towns of Arsal and Fleita. Reports indicate that Hizballah fired artillery rounds on Arsal in Lebanon and the Syrian Army bombed Fleita in Syria. While the Lebanese Army was not involved in offensive operations, it had reportedly stationed forces in defensive positions around Arsal. The goal of the offensive is to remove Islamic State- and Al Qaeda-aligned forces that are allegedly occupying the villages. (21 Jul 2017)

TURKEY (Security threat level – 4)

DEMONSTRATORS PROTEST ISRAELI SECURITY MEASURES AT ISTANBUL SYNAGOGUE

On 22 July 2017, reports emerged that dozens of demonstrators gathered at the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul to protest Israel’s installation of metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount (known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif) in Jerusalem. The protesters reportedly carried anti-Israel signs and stated that if Israel restricted Muslims’ freedom to worship, they would restrict Jews’ freedom to worship. While demonstrators reportedly hurled their signs at the synagogue, there were no reports of injuries associated with the protest. (22 Jul 2017)

UNITED STATES / NORTH KOREA (Security threat levels – 2 / 3)

U.S. SET TO BAR U.S. CITIZENS FROM NORTH KOREA

On 21 July 2017, a U.S. State Department spokesperson stated that the U.S. government is set to institute a ban on travel to North Korea by American citizens due to concerns over the risk of arrest and long-term detention. Officials will officially place the notice in the Federal Registrar on 27 July, and it will go into effect 30 days from that date. Individuals seeking an exception to the restriction — for humanitarian or other purposes — will be allowed to apply for a special validation passport. The move follows the recent death of an American college student who returned to the U.S. after more than a year of imprisonment in North Korea; three Americans remain imprisoned in North Korea. (21 Jul 2017)

THREAT LEVEL DEFINITIONS

  1. Crime Rate Risk Level 1: Visitors are exposed to a minimum degree of risk due to crime. This does not mean that crime does not occur, but rather that visitors are rarely affected by criminal acts. It is still wise to observe basic security precautions.
  2. Crime Rate Risk Level 2: Visitors are exposed to a low degree of risk due to crime. Criminal acts occur, but are uncommon in most areas of the city. Petty crime occasionally affects visitors to these cities; incidents of violent crime rarely affect visitors to these cities. Basic security precautions are advisable.
  3. Crime Rate Risk Level 3: Visitors are exposed to a medium degree of risk due to crime. Petty crime is typically the primary security threat for visitors to these cities, although incidents of violent crime occasionally affect visitors. Visitors should practice standard security precautions.
  4. Crime Rate Risk Level 4: Visitors are exposed to a high degree of risk due to crime. Criminal acts occur frequently and are often random occurrences. Visitors are likely to be affected by both incidents of violent crime – such as carjacking, armed robbery and physical/sexual assault – and petty crime – such as pickpocketing and purse-snatching – although they may mitigate some of the risk by avoiding the more crime-ridden areas of the city. Visitors should take extra security precautions while in the city.
  5. Crime Rate Risk Level 5: Visitors are exposed to a very high degree of risk due to crime. Cities with a 5 rating are affected by rampant, largely uncontrolled crime. Both violent crime – such as carjacking, armed robbery and physical/sexual assault – and petty crime – such as pickpocketing and purse-snatching – regularly affect visitors to these cities. Criminally motivated attacks such as low-level bombings and shootouts are not uncommon. Police forces in such cities are generally not effective in controlling crime. Vigilant security precautions should be taken to minimize the risk of becoming a victim of crime.