Travel risk round-up: 7 November

Moderate
Spain: Fatalities Reported after Ship Attempts to Cross Into Spain from North Africa

According to local news sources on Tuesday, 6 November, at least 17 migrants have been found dead with more than a 100 others having to be rescued after migrant ships attempted to cross into Spain. The fatalities were discovered after rescue workers found the vessels and attempted to bring them to safety. 13 people were discovered to have died and another 80 were rescued when rescue workers discovered another migrant ship in the Western Mediterranean, between the Iberian Peninsula, Morocco and Algeria. All survivors were taken to Melilla. A further four migrants were also found to have died after the Spanish coast guard discovered their vessel off the coast of Cadiz, a further 22 were rescued.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Due to the large number of migrants attempting to illegally travel to Europe from Africas North and West coasts, those travelling by sea in the area should be aware of heightened security around the coastlines and at ports. Naval accidents are relatively common off the African coast, and members are advised to only conduct such travel with a reputable service provider with a proven safety record.


Low
United States: HSBC Bank USA Servers Breached During Cyber Attack on 4-14 October; Account Data Stolen

According to a notice sent to HSBC Bank USA customers on Friday, 2 November, the severs of the company have been breached following a cyber attack, which was launched on 4 October and ended on 14 October. An undisclosed number of accounts have been accessed by unauthorised people, leading to the potential stealing of personal and financial data, including customers’ full names, phone numbers, emails, dates of birth, account numbers, payee account information, balances, transaction history and statement history. Once the breach was detected, online access to servers was suspended in order to prevent further unauthorized entry. HSBC Bank USA sent a communication to potentially affected customers to inform them about the cyber attack. The stolen data may be sold by hackers or used to conduct phishing and spearphishing attacks. HSBC systems have been targeted and breached several times in the past; attacks on HSBC North America’s servers have been launched in 2013, HSBC Turkey’s in 2014 and HSBC Finance’s in 2015.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members should be aware of the potential of cyber-attacks and electronic intelligence collection in the medium term and should make suitable cybersecurity measures wherever possible. Those heavily involved with IT operations should review contingency and business continuity measures, and monitor relevant updates. Those who believe that their financial information may have been compromised as a result of the incident should contact their account provider.


High
Cameroon: Dozens of Students Kidnapped from School near Bamenda, Northwest Region

According to emerging local media sources on Monday, 5 November, at least 80 people, mostly students, along with their teacher, school principal and driver have been abducted from a Catholic school near Bamenda in the Northwest Region. Unknown armed men were behind the attack, but more details are awaited.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members in the Northwest and Southwest Regions are advised to exercise a heightened level of situational awareness and subject all overland travel in the area to a thorough localised risk assessment and strict journey management protocols. Travellers should monitor local media sources for any further updates on the incident.


Moderate
New Caledonia: Unrest Reported following Independence Referendum Result

According to emerging media reports on Monday, 5 November, unrest has been reported following an independence referendum, held on Sunday, 4 November, in which 56 per cent of the territory voted to remain part of France. Social media sources indicate that the RP1 highway towards Mont-Dore has been closed due to protesters setting fire to cars and debris, prompting police to attempt to disperse them with tear gas. Additional security forces have also been deployed to Noumea as France’s Prime Minister, Edward Phillipe, has arrived to visit local politicians to discuss the results of the poll.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members operating within New Caledonia are advised to maintain a heightened sense of situational awareness as tensions continue and avoid the vicinity of demonstrations in order to mitigate against exposure to violent unrest and police crowd dispersal measures. Travellers are further advised to remain alert to further directives from authorities and monitor local traffic information to unrest-related disruptions in their area.


Low
Russia: Russia Imposes Financial Sanctions on 322 Members of Ukrainian Elite, 68 Companies

Russia has imposed financial sanctions on 322 members of the Ukrainian elite and 68 companies owned by prominent Ukrainian businessmen on Thursday, 1 November. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced the sanctions in a decree published on the government’s website and includes the freezing of assets and property on Russia‘s territory. The sanctions come as a delayed response to similar measures Ukraineimposed in May against Russian businesspeople, companies, and other entities. Ties between Moscow and Kiev have steadily deteriorated since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and its support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Advice for businesses and travellers

Members should follow local media outlets for updates on any potential demonstrations or protests in response to the announcement. Large political gatherings should be avoided due to the risk of incidental violence, opportunistic crime, and heavy-handed security response.