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HOT SPOTS FOR TRAVELLERS

Hot Spots Report

AMERICAS

Argentina (Security threat level - 2): As planned, on 25 November 2014, workers from the Argentina Federation of Oil, Gas and Biofuels union launched a 48-hour strike to demand that the Labor Ministry recognize the results of the latest union election. The strike is expected to impact oil production at Argentina’s oilfields and refineries, and could lead to a disruption of services at the country’s gas stations. So far, there have been reports of oil workers holding demonstrations outside several of the country’s refineries, thus blocking fuel trucks from leaving the facilities. There have been no immediate reports of violence.
United States (Security threat level - 2): On 24 November 2014, a grand jury examining an August 2014 shooting incident in Ferguson, Missouri, between a white police officer and a black youth decided that there was no probable cause to bring charges against the officer. In response, residents angry over the decision began riots shortly after the announcement at 2030 local time. There were numerous reports of gunfire, and more than a dozen businesses were damaged or destroyed in looting and fires; some police vehicles were also vandalized. Ferguson police used smoke bombs, tear gas, pepper spray and beanbag rounds in an effort to disperse protesters. Authorities arrested 61 people in Ferguson, while in nearby St. Louis, 21 people were arrested for vandalism targeting stores along South Grand Avenue. The St. Louis County police chief described the unrest as "much worse" than that which took place following the August shooting.

Due to concerns over the unrest and reports that gunshots were being fired into the air, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a temporary flight restriction (TFR) over the Ferguson area beginning at 2215 local time on 24 November (0415 UTC on 25 November) in order to provide a safe operating environment for law enforcement. The TFR affected a 3 mi/5 km radius around Ferguson, up to 3,000 ft/915 m. As the TFR prevented commercial aircraft traveling inbound to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (KSTL/STL) from using the available runways, approximately 10 inbound flights were canceled or diverted to other airports as a result. However, the airport remained open and operational for all departures. An additional six outbound flights were canceled on the morning of 25 November due to a lack of aircraft in light of the inbound restrictions, which were lifted along with the TFR at approximately 0330 local time on 25 November.

Meanwhile, solidarity protests took place nationwide to show disapproval of the grand jury decision. Protesters took to the streets in Oakland, Seattle, Chicago, Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Boston and other locations. In contrast to the Ferguson protests, the nationwide solidarity marches remained peaceful. However, protesters in some locations blockaded roads as an act of civil disobedience.

Analyst Comment: According to reports from the morning of 25 November, the streets in Ferguson are currently clear. However, there are concerns that protests will reignite later in the day. While the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States on 27 November may provide a temporary reprieve from the violence, several days of unrest should be anticipated in the Ferguson and St. Louis areas; additional solidarity protests may also continue to take place in cities throughout the country. Therefore, restrictions on movement or travel similar to the 24 November TFR may be re-implemented depending on the security situation.

ASIA

China (Security threat level - 2): Hong Kong police officers cleared part of the pro-democracy protest camp in Mong Kok on 25 November 2014. The police action focused on the protest camps located along Argyle and Portland streets. Police officers temporarily halted their operation when the crowd at the protest camp swelled beyond control, but have since resumed clearing the sites. Officers have used tear gas and "tear water" -- a liquid form of tear gas -- to clear protesters. Thus far, police officers have arrested approximately 80 people, including one Hong Kong legislator, and have charged at least nine with assaulting police officers. Reports indicate that the Mong Kok protest camp is split over what to do next. Some favor relocating to other protests in Central or Admiralty; however, others favor remaining in place as long as possible.

EUROPE

Greece (Security threat level - 2): To protest anticipated austerity measures demanded of the Greek government by European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) creditors, two of the country's largest labor unions -- the Civil Servants' Confederation (ADEDY) and the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) -- will organize a general strike on 27 November 2014. Public services such as hospitals, post offices, tax offices, schools and certain transportation services are expected to face considerable disruptions. Bus services in Thessaloniki will be suspended for the entire day, while trolley and bus services in Athens will operate on a reduced schedule. Air traffic controllers announced that they will participate in the strike; however, it is unclear how much this will impact flight operations. More information regarding the extent of disruptions to transportation services will become available as the date of the strike approaches. At 1100 local time on 27 November, union members will stage a protest at Klafthmonos Square in Athens, from where they will march to Syntagma Square. Additionally, journalists taking part in the strike will hold a rally outside the Journalists' Union of the Athens Daily Newspapers office at 1200 local time. Travelers and expatriates should avoid these areas to the extent possible.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Libya (Security threat level - 5): Unidentified aircraft carried out airstrikes targeting Tripoli's Mitiga International Airport (HLLM/MJI) for two consecutive days on 24 and 25 November 2014. Gen. Khalifa Hifter -- who has joined with Libyan government forces -- claimed responsibility for the airstrikes. The extent of the damage to the facility remains unclear and reports indicate that there were no casualties resulting from the strikes. Libyan aviation authorities have suspended departing flights from HLLM and have diverted all incoming flights to Misrata Airport (HLMS/MRA), which is located approximately 125 mi/200 km east of Mitiga International. HLLM -- which is the last operational airport in Tripoli -- is under the control of the anti-government Libyan Dawn militia and has been forced to suspend operations on several occasions since fighting between Libyan government forces and rival militia groups intensified in July 2014.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Kenya (Security threat level - 4): On 25 November 2014, police officers used tear gas to disperse a protest outside the Harambee House, which hosts a number of government offices, in Nairobi’s Central Business District. The demonstrators were protesting against insecurity across the country and called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to uphold his promise to increase security following the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi. The organizers of the march, dubbed Occupy Harambee Avenue, demanded that security forces be deployed to areas plagued by insecurity. The protest disrupted traffic along Harambee Avenue; however, no injuries were reported.
Nigeria (Security threat level - 5): On 25 November 2014, two female suicide bombers detonated explosives at a crowded market in Maiduguri, the capital and largest city of Borno state. Reports indicate that the second explosion came as onlookers rushed to help those injured by the first blast. At least 30 people were killed in the attack. Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, Boko Haram is the likely perpetrator, as the group is extremely active in the area and commonly targets public places.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Haiti (Security threat level - 4): On 24 November 2014, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince issued a Security Message, which reads in part as follows: "The U.S. Embassy has received reports of planned demonstration in Port-au-Prince on November 25, 28 and 29, 2014. The demonstrations are a continuation of operation 'Burkina Faso' that started on November 18, 2014, in support of freedom for political prisoners, efforts to oust Martelly’s 'têt kale' government, and for the organization of elections. The demonstrations are scheduled to start at 10:00AM and last until about 4:00PM.

"At this time, the demonstrations are planned for the following routes:

"November 25, 2014 Demonstration:

- Gathering area: Eglises St Jean Bosco & Perpétuelle Secours; - Autoroute de Delmas - Delmas 32 in front of TV Nationale Haiti - Christ-Roi - Lalue - Rue Capois - Champs-de-Mars devant Palais National (end)

"November 28, 2014 Demonstration

- Gathering area: Eglises St Jean Bosco & Perpétuelle Secours; - Autoroute de Delmas - Carrefour Aéroport/Nazon - Avenue Martin Luther King - Lalue - Rue Capois - Champs-de-Mars devant Palais National (end)

"November 29, 2014 Demonstration:

- Gathering area: Eglises St Jean Bosco & Perpétuelle Secours; - Autoroute de Delmas - Delmas 40 B/Rue Marcadieux - Rue Dalencourt (behind College St Louis de Bourdon) - Rue Bois-Patate (in front of the Commissariat of Canapé Vert) - Rue Faustin 1er - Turgeau (in front of Digicel building and Sacré-Cœur church) - Rue Capois - Champs-de-Mars in front of the National Palace (end).

"Please remember that routes can change without notice. Demonstrations in Haiti can arise and escalate quickly, and even turn violent, so the Embassy urges all U.S. citizens to remain vigilant, be aware of their surroundings, and avoid these areas as much as possible. Should you find yourself among or near protesters, get out of the area without delay.

"We strongly recommend that all U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Haiti enroll in the Department of State's secure on-line Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy to contact you in an emergency."

Senegal (Security threat level - 3): On 24 November 2014, the U.S. Embassy in Dakar issued a message, which reads in part as follows: “This is an update to the notice of October 25, 2014 regarding Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa.

"Senegal authorities announced that the land and maritime borders between Senegal and Guinea are now open. The U.S. Embassy in Dakar is not aware of any commercial flights operating directly between the two countries at this time. You can find more information on travel and commercial flights by visiting the Ebola Fact Sheet. Regional travelers should monitor airlines to verify seat availability, reconfirm reservations in advance of travel to the airport, and be aware of alternate airlines that service their destination. See, also, our Travel Alert for implications for travelers because of Ebola in parts of West Africa.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a level two Travel Alert for Mali advising travelers in Mali to practice enhanced precautions after several confirmed cases of EVD were reported in the country. Currently, flights have not been affected due to these EVD developments. Upon arrival and departure from Mali, medical personnel take the temperature of all passengers and distribute hand sanitizer.”


SIGNIFICANT DATES

25 November

Bosnia and Herzegovina: National Statehood Day
Suriname: Independence Day

26 November

Comoros: Anniversary of the Death of President Ahmed Abdallah
Mongolia: National (Independence) Day (Government offices and businesses close.)

27 November

Puerto Rico: Thanksgiving (Public holiday)
United States: Thanksgiving

28 November

Albania: Independence Day
Mauritania: Independence Day
Myanmar: Full Moon of Tazaungmon
Namibia: Presidential and parliamentary elections
Panama: Independence from Spain
Republic of Congo: Republic Day
Timor-Leste: Proclamation of Independence Day (public holiday)
United States: Day after Thanksgiving (most businesses closed)

29 November

Albania: Liberation Day (end of World War II)
Liberia: Former President William V.S. Tubman's birthday
Senegal: 2014 Francophone Summit

30 November

Barbados: Independence Day
Benin: National Day
Pakistan: Large-scale opposition rally planned in Islamabad. There is a threat of violence. Heightened security measures will likely be in place and may result in traffic disruptions.
Senegal: 2014 Francophone Summit

1 December

Angola: Pioneers' Day
Central African Republic: National Day
Kazakhstan: Day of the First President (public holiday established in 2011)
Philippines: Bonifacio Day (Public holiday)
Portugal: Restoration Day
Romania: National Day

2 December

Laos: Lao National Day (Public holiday)
United Arab Emirates: National Day

3 December

Ghana: National Farmers' Day

5 December

Thailand: King's Birthday (Public holiday)

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