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HOT SPOTS FOR TRAVELLERS

Hot Spots Report

AMERICAS

United States (Security threat level - 2): A Doctors Without Borders physician tested positive for Ebola in New York City on 23 October 2014. The doctor recently returned from treating patients in West Africa and contacted Doctors Without Borders on 23 October to report a fever. The patient is currently at Bellevue Hospital, which is one of the eight hospitals in New York that Governor Andrew Cuomo has designated as part of an Ebola preparedness plan. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is conducting further tests to verify the diagnosis. Officials stated that the likelihood of the doctor having infected members of the public is very low.

ASIA

India (Security threat level - 3): On 24 October 2014, authorities increased security at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (VABB/BOM), Kolkata’s Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (VECC/CCU), Ahmedabad’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport (VAAH/AMD) and Kochi’s Cochin international Airport (VOCI/COK) following a threat of an attack against Air India flights. While the focus of security measures appears to be on these facilities, one report stated that aviation authorities have placed all major airports in the country on alert. The threat was contained in an email that aviation officials in Kolkata received on the evening of 23 October. The anonymous email warned that suicide bombers would attempt to target an Air India flight from Ahmedabad to Mumbai on 24 October and from Mumbai to Kochi on 25 October. As part of the heightened security measures, authorities are carrying out increased checks on passengers, have tightened access control and have placed anti-hijacking units on high alert.

Analyst Comment: Anonymous threats against the aviation sector are common in India, leading to periodic increases in security measures at the country’s airports. Authorities have reportedly concluded that the credibility of this latest threat is low, and the steps outlined above are being taken as a precaution.

EUROPE

Italy (Security threat level - 2): As expected, on 24 October 2014, workers in Italy's transportation sector launched a general strike that caused major disruptions to transportation services across the country. Rail services will be shut down from 0900 to 1700 local time nationwide. Public bus, metro and ferry services have experienced considerable disruptions as well, but these have varied by region. Transit authorities guaranteed regular metro services in Rome from 1700 to 2000 local time and in Milan from 1500 to 1800 local time. Air traffic personnel are participating in the strike, which has resulted in cancellations and delays to a number of flights scheduled to operate on 24 October, including at Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (LIRF/FCO) in Rome. The strike has also resulted in disruptions to other public services, such as banks, hospitals and government offices. Workers taking part in the strike staged demonstrations in cities across the country. The largest of these actions occurred in Rome and Milan, where several thousand protesters gathered in each city's center. There have been no reports of violence related to these actions.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Lesotho (Security threat level - 3): Lesotho’s military and police commanders signed a deal on 23 October 2014 to take leaves of absence from their positions as part of continuing efforts to ease tensions following the 30 August military action in Maseru. The agreement, called the Maseru Security Accord, was mediated by South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane dismissed the head of the Lesotho Defense Force (LDF) Lt. Gen. Tlali Kamoli in late August, but he refused to step down from the post, and there were concerns that he and his supporters were preparing for a standoff. In addition to Kamoli, his replacement, Lt. Gen. Maaparankoe Mahao, and Lesotho Mounted Police Service Commissioner Khothatso Tsooana will also step aside and will relinquish power to their deputies within 14 days for an unspecified period of time. Reports earlier on 23 October indicated that a partial amnesty may have been proposed to convince Kamoli to accept a deal, but statements from Ramaphosa suggest that this was not incorporated into the Maseru Security Accord; Ramaphosa stated that the three officials were “promised nothing but a wonderful leave of absence and wonderful work-visits” to SADC and Commonwealth countries. Kamoli is being investigated on charges of high treason and murder in connection with the 30 August unrest.
Mali (Security threat level - 4): On 23 October 2014, the Health Ministry announced that a child in the western town of Kayes, located approximately 40 mi/65 km from the border with Senegal and 250 mi/400 km from the capital city of Bamako, had tested positive for Ebola. The girl is the country’s first confirmed case of the virus and is being treated at a local hospital. Authorities have quarantined 43 other individuals believed to have come in contact with the infected person. The patient had recently traveled to Guinea, where the current outbreak originated. Mali shares a border with Guinea, and many Malians travel across the border on a daily basis. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated on 24 October that it will send medical experts to help authorities contain the outbreak. Also on 24 October, Mauritania closed the Gogui Zemma border crossing with Mali due to the confirmed case. Other countries will likely follow suit and implement additional travel restrictions.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Bangladesh (Security threat level - 4): On 24 October 2014, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Bangladesh, which includes the following: "A former opposition party leader convicted of war crimes died in prison on 23 October. It is possible that violence will occur until his funeral, which has not yet been arranged, takes place. Friday prayers today, 24 October, could be a particular flashpoint. You should monitor news reports carefully, remain vigilant at all times, and avoid large gatherings, political offices and rallies."
Iran (Security threat level - 3): On 24 October 2014 the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice, which reads in part as follows: "In recent months there has been an increase in the detention of dual nationals on allegations of involvement in political and human rights activities. Dual nationality is not recognised in Iran. The Iranian authorities will deny that the British government has any legitimate responsibility for British Iranians and are unlikely to grant any consular access."

Russia (Security threat level - 3): On 23 October 2014, the U.S. Department of State issued the following updated Travel Alert:

"The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens in Russia to the on-going tensions along the border with Ukraine and the potential for clashes between pro-Russian groups and Ukrainian forces. This supersedes the Travel Alert dated July 22 to provide updated information on the security situation along Russia’s border with Ukraine and will expire on December 31, 2014.

"The U.S. government currently has no information concerning active armed clashes inside Russia or that there are any threats specific to U.S. citizens. However, all U.S. citizens located in or considering travel to the border region of the Russian Federation, specifically the districts immediately bordering Ukraine in parts of Bryansk, Kursk, Belgorod, Voronezh, and Rostov Oblasts and Krasnodar Krai, should be aware that the tensions described in the State Department’s Travel Warning for Ukraine have the potential to jeopardize the safety and security of U.S. citizens traveling or living in those regions.

"A state of emergency, declared by the Russian government, continues to be in effect in the Rostov Oblast bordering Ukraine. The situation along the border is unpredictable and could change quickly. Armed, pro-Russian groups are reportedly traveling illegally across the border into Ukraine and could increase the potential for clashes in Russia near the border, and pose a heightened risk for kidnapping and hostage taking. Negotiations and discussions between Ukraine and Russia are on-going regarding the integrity and control of the international border between the two countries. A formal, permanent mechanism to guarantee security on the border has not yet been established. Given the on-going volatility of the situation, U.S. citizens are strongly advised against traveling by land from Russia to Ukraine through this region.

"U.S. citizens considering travel to the border region in Russia should evaluate their personal security situation in light of these political tensions, and the possibility of violence or anti-U.S. actions directed against U.S. citizens or U.S. interests. U.S. citizens who choose to remain in areas where Russia has declared a state of emergency or other border regions should maintain a low profile and avoid large crowds and gatherings.

"The Department of State advises U.S. citizens in Russia to avoid all public demonstrations, whether properly authorized by local officials or not, and avoid any large crowds and public gatherings that lack enhanced security measures. U.S. diplomatic facilities in Russia have been the target of frequent demonstrations. Demonstrations related to the conflict may appear anywhere throughout Russia, at any time. These demonstrations may increase the possibility of confrontation and violence. Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.”


SIGNIFICANT DATES

24 October

Botswana: General election
Egypt: Suez Liberation Day
Haiti: United Nations Day
Islam: Islamic New Year (aka Al-Hijrah or Awal Muharram)
Italy: Planned strike in transportation sector
Maldives: Victory Day
Zambia: Independence Day

25 October

Islam: Islamic New Year (aka Al-Hijrah or Awal Muharram)
Seychelles: Festival Kreol parade and street party in Victoria. Traffic restrictions will likely be in place.

26 October

Austria: National Day (Public holiday; government and business offices closed.)
Benin: Armed Forces Day
Seychelles: Festival Kreol parade and street party in Victoria. Traffic restrictions will likely be in place.
Tunisia: Parliamentary Election
Worldwide: Daylight savings time ends in Europe and various other countries in the Middle East and Africa

27 October

Lesser Antilles / St. Vincent & the Grenadines: Independence Day
New Zealand: Labour Day
New Zealand: Labour Day (Public holiday)
Seychelles: Festival Kreol parade and street party in Victoria. Traffic restrictions will likely be in place.
Turkmenistan: Independence Day (Public holiday)

28 October

Cyprus: Okhi Day
Czech Republic: Independence Day
Greece: Okhi Day
Seychelles: Festival Kreol parade and street party in Victoria. Traffic restrictions will likely be in place.

29 October

Liberia: National Youth Day
Seychelles: Festival Kreol parade and street party in Victoria. Traffic restrictions will likely be in place.
Turkey: Turkish Independence Day

30 October

Seychelles: Festival Kreol parade and street party in Victoria. Traffic restrictions will likely be in place.

31 October

Seychelles: Festival Kreol parade and street party in Victoria. Traffic restrictions will likely be in place.

1 November

Algeria: Revolution Day (Most offices/businesses closed.)
Antigua & Barbuda / Lesser Antilles: Independence Day
Bhutan: Coronation of Druk Gyalpo
Bulgaria: Day of Bulgarian Enlighteners (Only observed by educational institutions)
Christianity: All Saints' Day
Liberia: Thanksgiving Day
Mexico: Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
U.S. Virgin Islands: D. Hamilton Jackson Day (Liberty Day)

2 November

Christianity: All Souls' Day
Mauritius: Arrival of Indentured Laborers Day
Mexico: Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
Shia Islam: Ashura

3 November

Ecuador: Foundation of Cuenca (Public holiday)
Mongolia: Genghis Khan's Birthday
Panama: Independence Day (Businesses, schools close)
Shia Islam: Ashura

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