Travel risk round-up: 17 October

Your risk round-up for the past week.

High
Afghanistan: Election Candidate Killed, Others Injured in Taliban Attack in Lashkargah, Southern Helmand Province

An Afghan election candidate has been killed in Helmand province in an attack claimed by Taliban, according to officials on Wednesday, 17 October. Abdul Jabar Qahraman, who was preparing to contest Saturday’s parliamentary polls, was killed in his office in Lashkargah city. Seven people were also injured in the blast. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack hours after they released a statement warning teachers and students not to participate in the parliamentary elections due on 20 October, and not to allow schools to be used as polling centres. The Taliban armed group has called for the boycott of the elections.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Afghanistan remains an extremely high-risk operational environment, and deployments should only be undertaken with the strictest possible security risk management procedures in place. Members should maintain a low profile and use a vetted security provider that offers close protection and emergency response services. Minimise time spent in the vicinity of security checkpoints, security headquarters and government buildings, as these are among the primary targets for militant attacks.


Moderate
France: Multiple Confirmed Killed by Flash Flooding in Aude Department

At least 12 people have been killed by flash flooding in Aude department, following the equivalent of seven months’ rain over the course of just a few hours early on Monday, 15 October. Several deaths occurred in the town of Trebes, with the villages of Conques-sur-Orbiel, Villegailhenc and Villardonnel particularly badly damaged. Around 350 firefighters were involved in the initial response, with that number set to double as others are drafted in to assist with ongoing search and rescue and clean-up operations. Thousands have been evacuated from the area following the floods.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members are advised to closely monitor local media outlets for weather-related updates and for any public announcements or advice. Members should strictly adhere to any directives issued by local authorities, and limit all non-essential travel due to the water and associated hazards.


Moderate
India: National Authorities issue Air Quality Health Advisory for New Delhi, Mumbai

The air quality in New Delhi, Mumbai and surrounding areas continue to remain between moderate and poor on Monday, 15 October, with a drop in airspeed, according to the data released by the National Air Quality Index. The latest data showed the major pollutants concentrated in New Delhi’s Lodhi Road area. The levels are marked hazardous in Mumbai where the Air Quality Index is showing an unhealthy level. With pollution levels rising in both New Delhi and Mumbai, the Central Pollution Control Board is set to implement an emergency action plan to combat the situation. The emergency plan is likely to implement stringent actions against stubble burning, regular water sprinkling in open areas, and a limit on diesel vehicles among other mitigation procedures.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Travellers in Mumbai and New Delhi are advised to reduce outdoor activities and consider the use of face masks. Those with respiratory conditions should be especially careful and avoid inhaling smog. Monitor local media reports for further updates.


Low
United Kingdom: Major Brexit Demonstration, The Peoples Vote March, Planned in London for 20 October

According to media reports on Sunday, 14 October, The Independent newspaper has organised a major protest on Saturday, 20 October, to raise support for a second Brexit referendum. The organisers are expecting the protest to better their previous demonstration in July, where around 100,000 people turned out. In order to do so, organisers and celebrity sponsors have organised buses to bring up to 10,000 students from all around the country. The demonstration is planned to start at Park Lane, near Piccadilly. Once underway, they will head down Piccadilly through St James Street, Pall Mall and Trafalgar Square, before marching down Whitehall to Parliament Square, where crowds will once again gather for speeches. Other activists groups marching include NHS Against Brexit, LGBT+ as well as political groups from Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members in London should anticipate traffic disruption in the immediate area of the protest and amend their itineraries if necessary. Members should avoid the vicinity of any large political gatherings and monitor local media sources for further information.


Low
Poland: Police Use Tear Gas to Disperse Anti-LGBT Protesters in Lublin

Emerging social media feeds report on Saturday, 13 October, that security forces are using tear gas to disperse alleged nationalists activists gathered in central Lublin protesting against the ongoing Equality March. The march assembled at Zamkowy Square and then passed by Kowalska, Lubartowska to head to Krakowskie Przedmiescie. The Equality March aims at supporting people who struggle with discrimination, including LGBT communities, disable people, refugees and religious minorities. The mayor of the city issued a ban on the march; the ban was voided by Court of appeal on Friday, 12 October.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members are advised to avoid the vicinity of any protests due to the risk of incidental violence, opportunistic crime and heavy-handed security response. Travellers should monitor local media sources for any further information.


Moderate
Brazil: Increase in Hate Crimes Reported as Tensions Rise in Lead-Up to Second-Round Election Runoff

According to international media sources on Friday, 12 October, political tensions in the lead-up to the second-round election runoff on 28 October have led to several hate crime attacks. As the election comes down to its last two candidates, one far-right and one far-left politician, the polarised atmosphere is believed to be fuelling the trend. A 63-year-old was murdered on Monday 8 October, after the attacker discovered the victim was supporting the far left candidate, then reportedly went home to collect a knife before returning to murder the victim in a bar. In another incident, a woman was attacked in the southern state of Porto Alegre. The woman was allegedly attacked after being seen with an LGBT flag and an anti-far-right sticker. The victim, in this case, was left scarred after a gang of men carved a swastika into her skin with a penknife. Anti-LGBT rhetoric continues to grow, with football fans increasingly chanting anti-LGBT chants. LGBT charities have noted there has already been nearly as many LGBT deaths this year as in 2017, and are concerned that violence will increase further.

Advice for businesses and travellers

It is advised to exercise caution when travelling throughout Brazil due to an increase in political tensions. Members in Brazil are advised to avoid all political gatherings and demonstrations due to the threat of incidental crime and violence, and should monitor local media outlets for the latest information on election-related events in their particular area of operations. Members conducting overland travel should review itineraries to ensure they will not face disruption along their routes associated with election-related events.