This month's security bulletin focuses on:
- Returning to travel
Returning to Travel
Travel seems to be continuing to increase slowly as governments around the world weigh the cost of potentially going back into total lockdown and in a lot of cases deciding the cons may well outweigh the pros. However long it takes it is clear that we are going to be operating under different circumstances for a while yet and it is probably the right time to consider what your Travel Risk Management programme looks like and the changes you may need to adopt to address the key challenges faced. I am very excited to be taking part in a webinar looking at exactly that on 23 September, hosted by the Travel Risk Incident Prevention (TRIP) Group. Registration is free so please do book your place.
On 9 August presidential elections were held in Belarus. The incumbent, Alexander Lukashenko, was re-elected for a sixth term. Official results showed him gaining 80% of the vote, however the results were not widely agreed with. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the opposition candidate, claimed she had won in the first round with 60% of the vote and said that Lukashenko should start discussing the transfer of power.
That evening, state television released details of exit polls suggesting a landslide victory for Lukashenko. Almost immediately clashes between protesters and police broke out in Minsk with the authorities allegedly using stun grenades and rubber bullets, injuries were reported. As polling stations closed, communications started to be shut down with many ISPs losing connection, Minsk was closed down.
Protests and demonstrations continued in the following days – the Riga market was barricaded by protesters, leading to the use of tear gas by the authorities. Over the following weeks, reports of violent tactics by the security forces continued as did large scale marches reportedly up to 500,000 people at times. There have been a number of deaths over this period.
Tsikhanouskaya left the country for Lithuania, joining her family who had been sent ahead in reaction to threats made against them. The authorities continue to crack down on opposition members with homes being raided and leaders arrested.
On 19 August it was announced that Lukashenko would be inaugurated in the following two months.
This is one to continue to watch, especially if you have interests in the country. Unfortunately, this type of situation is not going to go away anytime soon, I anticipate that the additional pressures of COVID will lead to a rise in discontent with governments and in those states with weak institutions more trouble around elections.
On 18 August disgruntled soldiers staged a coup d’etat in Mali. Starting at a military base in Kati a little under 10 miles from Bamako, those involved quickly moved to the capital arresting a number of politicians and leaders including the President, Ibrahim Buubacar Keita and the Prime Minister, Boubou Cisse. Hundreds of protesters gathered in Bamako demanding Keita’s resignation as the coup became common knowledge. Around midnight, Keita resigned.
Protests in Mali have been occurring since around 5 June. Complaints include accusations of corruption, dismay at the way the ongoing insurgency in the north of the country is being handled and the state of the economy.
In the following days, a panel of five military Colonels appeared on national television inviting political groups for dialogue around fresh elections. On 19 August all external borders were closed and whilst the Modibo Keita International Airport in Bamako reopened the week following the coup, regional borders remain closed as at 1 September.
This is another reminder that life continues and there are changes going on across the world. As travel starts to pick up, we shouldn’t take it for granted that things have remained the same. Along with being clear on what COVID measures you should have in place and what restrictions are in effect in particular destinations, we should also be checking more broadly to ensure we are aware of other changes to the operational, infrastructural and security environment.
I wrote about hurricane’s last month and as it’s the season I suppose it is not a surprise to see the topic again – Hurricane Laura made landfall in Louisiana early on 27 August with an estimated 4 million people in its path. Emergency evacuation orders are in place and most people have complied, but of course they have to contend with a possible increase in the risk of COVID infection when arriving at crowded shelters. Of course, basic hygiene like washing your hands frequently does help to mitigate this, but it is not a nice position to be in. For some quick tips on what to do if caught in a hurricane, please watch below: