Travel risk round-up: 15 February

The following risk alerts were taken directly from our RiskMonitor platform.

Moderate
Haiti: Inmates Escape from Aquin Prison in Southern Haiti

According to international media sources, all 78 inmates of Aquin prison in southern Haiti escaped on Tuesday, 12 February, utilising the fact police were distracted by anti-government protests nearby. The prisoners reportedly refused to return to their cells as a demonstration occurred in front of the adjoining police station, and took advantage of the security forces involvement in quelling demonstrators to stage their escape. Barricades set up by protesters also blocked police reinforcements from arriving from Les Cayes, a town around 34 miles (55km) away. There have been no reports of any of the prisoners being re-apprehended.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members are advised to exercise a heightened level of vigilance in the aforementioned areas at this time. All protests and large-scale gatherings should be avoided in Haiti, as even peaceful demonstrations can transform into violent episodes of unrest which can potentially prompt heavy-handed police crowd dispersal measures. Members are further advised to closely monitor local media sources for any further instructions from authorities and news regarding unrest in their area.


High
Somalia: Three Explosions Reported in Mogadishu

According to reports emerging from social media, three explosions have occurred in Mogadishu on Wednesday morning, 13 February. A car fitted with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was detonated at Zoobe junction which reportedly targeted a government official and an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy travelling in Hiliwa district was hit by two landmines. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks and while initial reports suggest that there have been some casualties, no figures have been reported as of yet. Additionally there have also been reports of a mortar attack by al-Shabaab militants on AMISOM’s base in Hiiraan region.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Due to the ongoing conflict and frequent militant attacks, Somalia remains an extremely high-risk environment and all travel to the country should be reconsidered. Members in Mogadishu are advised to avoid the vicinity of the areas mentioned due to the risk of tertiary devices. Members should maintain a heightened level of vigilance and should report any suspicious items or activity to authorities.


Low
Italy: Multiple Arrests Made during Anti-Narcotics Operation in Caserta Province, Campania Region

Eleven people have been arrested in the municipalities of Alife and Piedimonte Matese, Caserta province, Campania region, during an anti-narcotics operation launched on Monday, 11 February, local media sources report. The detained are suspected of having created and running two major drug dealing rings. Large caches of narcotics have been seized. Further security operations may occur in the short term.

Advice for businesses and travellers

In-country personnel are advised to report any suspicious persons, items or activity to the authorities. Members should monitor local media sources to remain apprised of any security operations in their particular area, or other incidents which could affect personal safety, travel plans and business continuity. Furthermore, members should heed all directives issued by security forces and local authorities.


Moderate
Vanuatu: Tropical Storm Heading to Vanuatu Could Develop into Cyclone

According to regional news media on Tuesday, 12 February, a tropical storm below the Solomon Islands could develop into a cyclone as it heads towards Vanuatu. The storm was situated just south of the Solomon Islands on Tuesday evening and is moving east-north-east to Vanuatu at around 20km/h (12 mph) and the Vanuatu Meteorological Service has been putting out regular alerts describing the chance for the storm to intensify over the next 24 hours as moderate to high. A severe weather warning has been put in place for the northern islands and parts of the central islands as heavy rainfall and possible flash flooding over low lying areas are forecast. Forecasters at the Fiji Meteorological Service predict that the storm is likely to become a cyclone before reaching Vanuatu, after which it is expected to track south-east towards New Caledonia.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members in Vanuatu are advised to monitor local media sources for weather-related updates and to remain apprised of disruption and warnings in their particular area of operations. Travellers should familiarise themselves with local emergency protocols and heed any directives issued by local authorities. Minimise time spent in low-lying flood-prone areas, valleys and unstable slopes susceptible to flash floods and landslides and coastal regions during the passing of the storm system.


Low
Austria: Ongoing Manhunt following Bank Robbery in Linz, Upper Austria

According to local media sources on Thursday, 14 February, a manhunt has been launched in Linz, Upper Austria, following a bank robbery reported in the Spallerhof district of the city. Reportedly, the branch of a bank located on Salzburger Strasse was robbed by at least one armed individual, now on the run and wanted. It is not known if the individual had any accomplice. First reports suggest that no casualties occurred during the crime. At this time, the identity of the culprit(s) is being investigated and a large operation to identify and locate them has been launched. A heightened security presence in the area is to be expected, as well as police checkpoints, restulting in localised disruption.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members should report any suspicious person or activity to the authorities and avoid the vicinity of the incident due to the possibility of further violence and ongoing police operations. Travellers should monitor local media sources for any further information.


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