This month's security bulletin focuses on:
- COVID-19 Coronavirus
- South Sudan
In my last update I discussed areas that might be a concern from a security perspective as we start to think about what a return to the workplace could look like. We are now seeing more relaxation of restrictions across the globe, as countries start to see infection rates drop after weeks and months of lockdown and quarantine. However, this is not the case everywhere and some areas that hadn’t been too badly hit are seeing large increases (e.g. Brazil) and even some of the countries that thought they were past the worst are experiencing secondary infection clusters (China’s Shulan, for example).
Whilst it is clear that business travel as we knew it is going to take some time to return to “normal” - if it ever does- there is certainly talk about how international trips could resume. One example is the UK discussing and possibly abandoning the idea of air bridges to allow holiday makers to avoid mandatory 14-day quarantine. To that end, there are a few situations that I think are worth continuing to bear in mind as we move closer to a more normal travel state again.
Chile, pre-COVID-19, had been suffering from unrest that began in October last year. Initially, as I have previously written, this was triggered by a price rise on the Santiago metro system but soon developed into wider protests about the cost of living and general inequality. Like a number of South American countries, Chile has been affected by COVID-19 and has introduced a number of measures to contain the spread of the virus. However, the lockdown has not been well received by the poor in major urban centres who struggle with no work and therefore no means to buy food. The government has announced emergency aid to help the most vulnerable but anti-lockdown protests have been taking place and the ongoing virus situation will continue to highlight inequalities, which may mean that further problems are likely once through the current situation. As the global situation normalises and restrictions with regards to COVID-19 are lifted, particular attention should be paid to how Chile continues to deal with feelings of inequality and cost of living complaints.
In March I wrote about the treaty signed in February which was designed to end hostilities that had existed between the two main ethnic groups in the country. However, there has been sporadic on-going communal violence with up to 300 hundred being reported killed in Jonglei state in the most recent wave. This number includes three aid workers, one of whom was confirmed as working for Médecins Sans Frontières. It does appear that politically motivated violence has decreased, however the intercommunal attacks shows that the tensions are still very much present and threaten the already fragile peace.
Whilst most of us remain locked down and wondering when we will be able to travel again, this is a timely reminder that pre-existing issues remain and will continue to need careful thought and attention when travelling to areas with security concerns.