Travel risk round-up: 28 June

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Moderate
Papa New Guinea: Locals Evacuate as Ulawun Volcano Erupts, West New Britain Province

According to local media sources, the Ulawun volcano in West New Britain province erupted on Wednesday morning, 26 June, causing thousands of residents living in the vicinity to flee and prompting an eruption warning. Reports indicate the volcanic activity began at around 0700hrs (2100 UTC, 25 June). A column of ash spewed out of the summit, with Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology reporting that the ash reached more than 13km (44,000 feet) into the air. There have, however, been varying reports of this. The volcano had reportedly been showing signs of increased activity for a few weeks before the eruption started. The Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre had issued a red warning to airlines prior to the eruption, however there is not believed to have been any disturbances for flight routes, and much of the ash was blown out to sea. The Rabaul Volcano Observatory stated that emissions from the volcano were getting darker following the first eruption, indicating a higher ash content which can cause breathing problems, eye irritation and skin irritation because of high acid content. Provincial disaster teams are reportedly liaising with local communities and local level government authorities, preparing for potential disruption and further eruptions.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members in Papua New Guinea are advised to avoid the volcano and surrounding areas due to the increased volcanic activity. Those in the area are advised to familiarise themselves with local emergency protocols and strictly adhere to any directives or advisories issued by authorities and public bodies, including evacuation orders. Clients operating within Papua New Guinea are advised to closely monitor development through local media and official agency information as ash produced by volcanic eruptions can disrupt air travel within the region. Members conducting air travel into or out of New Britain should check the status of their flights well in advance of departure due to the possibility of flight cancellations caused by volcanic ash clouds.


High
Chad: Multiple Soldiers Killed in Boko Haram Militant Attack in Lake Chad Region

According to local media reports on Sunday, 23 June, at least 11 Chadian soldiers were killed in an attack by Boko Haram militants in the Tchoukoutalia area of Lake Chad. Chadian forces report that at least 26 militants were killed in the fighting that ensued. Since 2015, troops from Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria have been grouped into a mixed, multi-national force in an effort to help fight Islamist militants.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Due to the threat of militant attacks and security forces counter operations, Chad remains an extremely high-risk operational environment. Those in the region are advised to apply strict risk management and mitigation protocols, including those that cover journey, accommodation and workplace safety. Travellers should minimise non-essential movement in the region and maintain good situational awareness at all times, especially in the vicinity of security posts and markets as these may be targeted by militant attacks.


High
Philippines: Reports of Fatalities Following Explosion in Indanan Sulu Province

According to local media sources on Friday, 28 June, at least three people were killed and a further nine injured, following an explosion at a military base in the settlement of Tanjung located in Indanan municipality in Sulu province. The blast was reportedly caused by an improvised explosive device (IED). Although no group has yet claimed responsibility, Abu Sayaf is suspected to be behind the attack. Local security forces are conducting operations in the area.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Those in Sulu Province should avoid the vicinity of the incident due to the likelihood of further violence and ongoing operations by the security forces. Members should monitor local media sources for further information and heed any directives issued by the authorities.


Moderate
Honduras: Injuries Reported as Military Police Confront Protesting Students

According to social media sources, several students have reportedly been injured after military police entered the University Nacional Autonoma de Honduras (UNAH) in Tegucigalpa to disperse protesting students on Monday, 24 June. Honduran law reportedly forbids the entry of police and military forces in autonomous places such as the university and they were greeted with stones and other projectiles thrown by the protesters as they entered the campus. The military police responded by firing tear gas and there are also reports that live ammunition was used against the protesters. As the incident is ongoing, exact casualty figures have not been confirmed. Initial reports suggest at least three students have been injured, two allegedly with bullet wounds. Further information is awaited.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members in Tegucigalpa are advised to avoid the vicinity of the university due to the ongoing security situation. Members are advised to avoid any demonstrations in order to mitigate against unruly crowd behaviour and police crowd dispersal measures. Travellers are also encouraged to monitor local news and media for further information relating to the protests and any associated disruption.


Moderate
Colombia: Multiple Soldiers Wounded in Attack on Military Base in Fortul, Arauca Department

According to local media reports, at least five soldiers were wounded when a military base in Fortul, Arauca department was attacked with explosives on Wednesday, 26 June. Eight explosive charges were reportedly thrown from a vehicle at the soldiers while they were leaving the base. The explosions also caused infrastructural damage. It has not been confirmed which group was behind the attack, although some sources have stated that it was likely to have been perpetrated by guerrilla fighters from the left-wing armed group the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members conducting travel outside of major cities in Colombia are advised to subject all journeys to a comprehensive localised threat assessment and liaise with local authorities to identify areas with active militant and security operations. Keep apprised of further developments on the regional security situation by closely monitoring local sources.