Travel risk round-up: 25 July

Your risk round-up for the past week.

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Mali: Violent Protests Erupt in Timbuktu in Response to Arrest of Arab Youths

Violent protests have erupted in Timbuktu on Wednesday, 25 July, bringing the city to a standstill. Youths and traders from Mali’s Arab community stormed the town centre, firing shots into the air, burning tyres, and torching vehicles. The unrest reportedly erupted in response to the arrest of four local Arab youths suspected of robbing a pharmacy on Tuesday night. Timbuktu’s Arab and Tuareg communities persistently complain alleged persecution by Mali’s predominantly black ethnic soldiers. The unrest comes ahead of the upcoming presidential election, scheduled to be held on Sunday, 29 July.

Advice to businesses and travellers

Members are advised to avoid the vicinity of all protests and mass gatherings in Mali due to the risk of exposure to crowd violence and heavy-handed law enforcement response. Members should be particularly vigilant in the run-up to the presidential elections on 29 July. Monitor local media for the latest developments on the tensions and subsequent unrest.


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Barbados: Multiple Arrests and Marijuana Seized in Anti-Narcotics Operation at Bridgetown Port

Local media sources report that three people have been arrested and a large amount of marijuana seized following an anti-narcotics operation that took place on Tuesday, 24 July, at Bridgetown Port. Cannabis is illegal in Barbados, but the drug is in high demand on the island. Cannabis is often sourced from St. Vincent and Jamaica and imported by local dealers.

Advice to businesses and travellers

In-country personnel are advised to report any suspicious persons, items or activity. Members should monitor local media sources to remain apprised of any security operations in their particular area and heed any directives issued by police and local authorities.


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Colombia: Teachers Demonstrate across the Country; Avoid Protests

On Wednesday, 25 July, the Colombian Teachers’ Federation (Fecode) has called upon members to go on strike countrywide and stage demonstrations planned to start at 0900hrs (1400 UTC) in major urban centres across the country. In Bogota, demonstrations will start from the District’s Council, protests in Cali are expected to start at the main train station, while in Cartagena, the marches will depart from Zapatos Viejos Monument. Local media reports indicate that the protests are over the recent spate of killing of social leaders and poor labour conditions in the sector.

Advice to businesses and travellers

Travellers should avoid the vicinity of protests and demonstrations in order to mitigate the risk of exposure to potential crowd disturbances, opportunistic crime, and heavy-handed police crowd control measures. Members undertaking overland travel within the cities where marches will take place are advised to review journey plans due to the potential for disruption. Monitor local media sources for related developments and to remain cognisant of local tensions.


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Lebanon: Hundreds Protest in Beirut against Social Media Crackdown

Hundreds gathered at Beirut’s Samir Kassir Square on Tuesday, 25 July, to protest against a recent government crackdown on social media activity. Activists and journalists have condemned the increased monitoring and restrictions of social media posts, claiming that police are infringing upon freedom of expression. Measures include detention and interrogation of suspects found to be critical of the Lebanese government on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. In light of the strong response to the crackdown, more unrest is anticipated in Beirut and calls for further demonstrations can be expected in the coming days.

Advice to businesses and travellers

Members in Beirut are advised to avoid the vicinity of all protests and political gatherings in order to minimise the risk of exposure to potential crowd disturbances and police crowd control operations. Travellers should be mindful of the increased restrictions on social media activity in Lebanon and refrain from discussing political opinions or culturally sensitive topics in public forums.


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Afghanistan: Civilians Injured following Explosion in Store in Maimana City, Faryab Province

An explosion in a shop in Maimana city, Faryab province, has injured eight people on Wednesday, 25 July. The cause of the explosion has yet to be determined, though police suspect it was a deliberate attack as the owner of the shop claims a customer left a suspicion package in the store moments before the blast. Investigations are currently underway.

Advice to businesses and travellers

Members in Maimana are advised to remain well clear of the affected area due to the risk of secondary attacks. Civilian targets in Faryab province are frequently subject to militant attacks by Islamic State (IS) and Taliban insurgents. Travel to Afghanistan should be limited to only operationally-critical deployments and should only be conducted following a thorough localised threat assessment. All movement should be subject to stringent security risk management procedures in coordination with local authorities and security forces.