Today, travelers in Santa Cruz should reconfirm routes and expect disruption during a planned 24-hour blockade by unionized transportation workers. Demonstrators intend to surround the city with roadblocks after failing to reach an agreement with the government over controversial transportation legislation. Transportation services in the city will be affected, and the erection of roadblocks is liable to significantly disrupt road travel, including journeys to and from Viru Viru International Airport (VVI).
Avianca Brasil, the fourth-largest airline in Brazil, filed for bankruptcy protection, citing high fuel costs and volatile currency markets. The airline warns passengers that services could be severely impacted as an attempt to repossess 14 of its leased aircraft is under way. Avianca has asked a Brazilian court to suspend the repossession to allow the airline to continue normal operations while it hopes to renegotiate its contracts with aircraft leasing companies. Passengers ticketed on Avianca Brasil should reconfirm flights and be prepared to make alternate arrangements as this situation continues to develop.
Travelers in Colombia should continue to avoid non-essential travel to areas affected by guerrilla activity, despite the announcement of a temporary ceasefire by the leftist rebel National Liberation Army (ELN) on Sunday, December 16. The 12-day truce is scheduled to be observed between Sunday, December 23 and Thursday, January 3, 2019. The ELN has also requested the resumption of stalled peace negotiations with the government.
Tomorrow, travelers in Cusco and Puno should anticipate disruption related to an ongoing 72-hour strike by environmental activists. Protests are likely to include roadblocks. Yesterday, protesters in Ayaviri blocked the 3S Highway between Puno and Cusco. Demonstrations in Peru can become violent, with security forces using tear gas to disperse protesters and remove roadblocks.
Travelers are reminded of the risks associated with travel to North Kivu province amid rising militant attacks around Beni City and protests over the deteriorating security situation. Yesterday, Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels ambushed a truck and clashed with security forces in Mangboko Village, situated along Route Nationale 4 between Oicha and Beni. On Sunday, December 16, security forces repelled an attack on an Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) warehouse in Beni by Mai-Mai militiamen.
On Friday, December 21, travelers should avoid all rallies as the campaigning for Presidential Election concludes. Opposition candidate Martin Fayulu of the Lamuka coalition will reportedly hold a rally at Tata Raphael Stadium in Kinshasa to conclude his campaigning. It is likely that other candidates will also hold their campaign rallies in Kinshasa. In addition, Cap pour le Changement coalition leader Felix Tshisekedi has called for a day of peaceful “fasting and prayer” nationwide to end the election campaign.
Travelers should continue to exercise caution following persistent violence linked to a partial re-run of Legislative and Municipal Elections originally held in October. Although yesterday’s release of official results passed off peacefully, voting was marred by violence on Sunday, December 16. In Grand Bassam, narrowly defeated Mayor Georges Ezaley has vowed to legally challenge the results. Further unrest should be expected in Daloa, where the inauguration of a new Mayor sparked violent demonstrations yesterday.
Travelers in the Oromia region, particularly the Borena Zone, should avoid all gatherings following renewed ethnic violence in the town of Moyale. Yesterday, at least twelve civilians were killed in a shooting at the town’s Bekele Mola Hotel. A meeting between members of the Federal Army, Oromo and Somali ethnic groups, and regional security forces was under way when the incident occurred. The incident highlights the need to avoid non-essential journeys to areas adjacent to the border with Kenya.
Today, travelers in Libreville should plan routes bypassing a protest march called by the DU labor union confederation against austerity measures. Participants, who are also demanding the resignation of Constitutional Court justices, are due to gather at Rond-Point de la Democratie at 8:00 AM local time. A related nationwide strike called by DU was observed from Monday, December 10 through Wednesday, December 12.
Travelers in Basra should continue to minimize movement in the vicinity of the Central Governorate building, the residence of the Provincial Council head, Walid Kitan, in the al-Baradhiyah area, and the University of Basra. Disruptive protests have continued since early December, with security forces using heavy-handed tactics such as tear gas and firing live bullets into the air to disperse protesters. A number of people have been arrested, and some protesters have burned tires and blocked main roads.
Today through Monday, December 24, a partial opening to the public of Baghdad’s International Zone (IZ) will take place. Although the opening applies only to 14th of July Street, there may be a heightened security force presence throughout the IZ. The partial opening, which may be extended beyond the late December deadline, does not in and of itself affect the travel security environment; however, travelers should continue to minimize movement outside secure premises and maintain stringent journey management plans for all road movements.
On Sunday, December 16, at least three people, including a local chief, were killed in the town of Giresa during clashes between members of the Gabbra and Wayu communities over grazing land and water for their herd. While mediators and security forces have been deployed to Dirib Kombo, Boru Haro and Saku, locations where the communities involved in the dispute are known to live, retaliatory attacks are still possible.
All travel to Borno should be deferred following fresh attacks by Islamist extremists. Attacks by Boko Haram militant group and its breakaway faction, Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), have increased in recent months. From Friday, December 14 through Sunday, December 16, militants clashed with security forces near Gudumbali, Gambaru and Molai, around three miles outside Maiduguri. An attack on Gudumbali’s military base reportedly killed 12 soldiers.
Today, travelers in Saint-Denis should avoid a planned student demonstration as a precaution. The event, which has been organized by the FSU union in protest of education reform, will take place at 9:00 AM local time outside the Rectorate building. Similar protests occurred on Tuesday, December 11 and Thursday, December 13 across the country, including in Saint-Denis, La Possession, La Saline, Le Port, Les Avirons, Saint-Andre, Saint-Pierre, and Tampon. Scuffles on Thursday, December 13 were reported between security forces and protesters, while the main RN6 Road was temporarily blocked.
On Friday, December 21, travelers in Dakar should avoid the vicinity of the Supreme Court building, where a protest by the opposition National Resistance Front (FRN) coalition is due to take place. The demonstration has been called to demand transparency in the February 2019 Presidential Election and show support for the city’s former Mayor, Khalifa Sall, who will appeal at the Supreme Court against his five-year prison term for fraud on Thursday, December 20. The FRN has said that protests will continue ahead of the election.
Tomorrow, travelers in Khartoum and Omdurman should exercise caution and avoid gatherings linked to the scheduled arrival of National Umma Party leader Sadiq al-Mahdi. Al-Mahdi is returning to Sudan after ten months in self-imposed exile. There will be two days of events commemorating his return, including a reception at Khartoum International Airport, followed by a rally near the Abdul Gayoom Gate and the tomb of Imam al-Mahdi in Omdurman.
Travelers in Kabul should plan journeys avoiding the Presidential Palace due to an ongoing protest. According to local reports, the demonstration is being held by staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, students, and teachers over TOEFL exams.
Travelers should avoid all gatherings related to the General Election scheduled for December 30. Local unrest and low-level clashes have been reported at rallies across the country, including in Dhaka. Attacks on candidates and clashes between rival party supporters have also been reported. Travelers should exercise heightened caution as election-related unrest and clashes, which poses incidental risks to bystanders, is expected to intensify as polling day nears.
Today, travelers in coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh should plan journeys accounting for disruption during the passage of Cyclone Phethai. Phethai made landfall around 1:30 PM local time yesterday near Katrenikona, causing disruption to rail, road and air travel. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the storm was forecast to weaken into a deep depression last night as it moved northeast.
Travelers should continue to monitor developments after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was reinstated on Sunday, December 16 following a Supreme Court ruling. Wickremesinghe was fired by President Maithripala Sirisena on October 26 and replaced by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. This had triggered frequent demonstrations, mostly in Colombo. While Wickremesinghe’s reinstatement will placate his supporters, soured relations between the Prime Minister and President mean that tensions will periodically resurface, potentially leading to protests, albeit smaller in scale than before.
Travelers in main cities across Western Europe, particularly in France, Belgium, Germany and the UK, should exercise vigilance and anticipate heightened security during the holiday period, following the terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Strasbourg on Tuesday, December 11. The incident highlights continued intent by militant groups to carry out attacks, particularly around Christmas and the New Year. A heightened security force presence can be expected around key locations such as transportation hubs, government buildings and tourist attractions, including Christmas markets, across Western Europe. Security measures will include the installation of concrete bollards and increased vehicle and identity checks.
Travelers in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region, which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, should anticipate travel disruption related to adverse weather conditions during the winter season. Frequent snowfall, strong winds, severe frost, and fog increase the rate of road traffic accidents, particularly in rural mountainous areas, and may cause flight disruption. Travelers are advised to maintain flexible itineraries and adopt sensible precautions to minimize inconvenience.
Today, travelers should plan journeys accounting for disruption during a general strike called by the CGT union confederation. As was the case during similar action on Friday, December 14, the walkout may be observed by employees of national rail operator SNCF and Paris’ public transportation operator RATP, disrupting their services. The strike has been organized in connection with a number of grievances, especially pertaining to wages and pensions. All related demonstrations should be avoided as a precaution.
Travelers in Budapest should expect and avoid further protests against a disputed labor law and judicial reform. Yesterday, more than 1,000 people peacefully demonstrated outside the headquarters of state-run television station MTVA and several other pro-government media outlets. On Sunday, December 16, police used tear gas against demonstrators who had attempted to storm the MTVA. A related gathering outside the Parliament on Friday, December 14 was similarly dispersed. Further gatherings are planned for Friday, December 21 and Wednesday, January 2, though sporadic protests are likely to occur in the run-up to these dates.
Today, travelers in Rome should expect traffic disruption and plan journeys accounting for a protest by rental car companies and drivers. The demonstration was due to begin at 10:00 AM local time at Piazza della Repubblica and end at the Transportation Ministry at Piazzale di Porta Pia at 2:00 PM local time. Several thousand participants are expected to protest a law limiting car rental companies’ areas of operation. Participants have threatened to escalate their protest and block roads and airports
On Friday, December 21, travelers should anticipate disruption and avoid planned gatherings by the “Vamos Parar Portugal” (VPP) movement, which is inspired by the “Yellow Vests” protests in France. Demonstrators in Lisbon plan to gather on the 25 de Abril Bridge and on the Marques de Pombal Roundabout. Related protests are also due to take place in the Francos area of Porto and other urban centers. The VPP reportedly hopes to “paralyze” the A8 Motorway, which runs north from Lisbon.
Travelers in Catalonia should exercise caution and avoid all protests during a meeting of the central government’s Council of Ministers in Barcelona on Thursday, December 20 and Friday, December 21. Several groups, including the Comites de Defensa de la Republica (CDR) and Black Flag organizations, have called for protests and the blocking of key roads across the region from 5:14 PM local time on Thursday, December 20 to 10:00 PM local time on Friday, December 21. All related events should be avoided due to the credible risk of unrest. Travelers should reconfirm the status of routes before setting out.
Direct military confrontation between Ukraine and Russia remains unlikely despite a recent increase in bilateral tensions, and travel to the country can continue. Travelers in Ukraine should continue to monitor related developments and follow all directives issued by authorities. Bilateral relations have been strained since 2014 over the status of the Crimean Peninsula and Russia’s support for separatist forces in the ongoing conflict in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. Tensions reached their highest point in recent years when the Russian Coast Guard prevented Ukrainian vessels from passing through the Kerch Strait to the Azov Sea in November.