Top Global Conflict Zones
Business travelers can find themselves in just about any part of the world. This can be exciting, as it brings people to places they never imagined, and allows them to see things tourists don’t normally visit.
However, it also comes with risks, such as those connected with terrorism and political unrest. In the modern world, you don’t always have to travel to dangerous countries to encounter these issues, and the effects of terrorism and unrest are seen throughout the world.
Terrorist Attacks of ISIS
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is the most feared terrorist group in the world, with the organization either executing or inspiring attacks throughout the world in 2015:
- Paris: The shootings at the offices of the satirical newspaper “Charlie Hebdo” in January, and the November attacks in Paris and suburb Saint-Denis
- U.S: The shooting by two ISIS supporters at a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif., killing 14 people
- Turkey: A bombing a peace rally in October
- Egypt: The bombing of the Italian consulate in Cairo in July; and the downing of a Russian jet in Egypt in October, killing 224 people
- Tunisia: A shooting at a museum in March, and an attack at a beach resort in June
- Yemen: A bombing a mosque in March
- Libya: A shooting a hotel in January
One of the biggest concerns is that while ISIS becomes more effective, the world’s response to it is criticized as ineffective because of various countries’ competing interests. While it is difficult, if not impossible, to know where ISIS will strike next, a report by NBC news cited sources who said are potential targets are European allies of the U.S., Russia, and Hezbollah, the terrorist, the Shi’a terrorist group in Lebanon.
The political scene is becoming more unpredictable and in some cases, more dangerous every day. Social media gives people the ability to share information and plan terrorist activity quickly and effectively, and that can make political hotspots particularly risky.
In Saudi Arabia, the New Year saw the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a Shia cleric. He was among 47 people who were executed for terrorism, and was a leader of the country’s Shia majority, which believes it is marginalized in the country. In addition to Shias in Saudi Arabia, Iran has claimed Saudi Arabia would pay a high price for al-Nimr’s execution. Saudi Arabia reacted by ending diplomatic ties with Iran.
Political unrest in Brazil stems from the situation involving President Dilma Rousseff as she faces impeachment proceedings and a country in crisis, both politically and economically. The impeachment process involves accusations of illegal activity with government funds to hide budget gaps. For her part, the President is supporting a corruption probe that is investigating bribery and embezzlement, which reportedly involves powerful people in business and politics. Regardless of what happens with these political battles, Brazil has a growing fiscal deficit and is in need of financial reforms, which aren’t likely to happen regardless of who is president.
Turkey has long been a stable destination between Europe and the Middle East, and a travel destination for Europeans. But with the country fighting the Kurds in the East, violence at its border with Syria, and terrorists targeting the country, European countries are declaring travel warnings for Turkey. The U.K. is urging travelers central Ankara (Turkey’s capital), and France is urging caution, even in tourist areas. To find out more information about safety and security, check out Turkey Country Risk Assessment Guide.
Elections in Emerging Markets
Violence and looting have been reported in the Central African Republic since the overthrow of the government in March of 2013. Despite the presence of a U.N. stabilization force, security remains fragile. The potential for violence related to political unrest exists as the country is in the midst of its long-delayed election, which finally began in late December. The second round is set to begin January 31.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, armed groups, bandits and elements of the armed forces are known to have murdered, raped and kidnapped individuals. With national elections scheduled for November 2016, there is potential for protests and demonstrations that could turn violent. The country’s 2011 election saw violence in the form of attacks on polling stations, and a truck that was transporting ballots. At some stations, voting materials arrived late or didn’t arrive at all. President Joseph Kabila won re-election, amid accusations of vote-rigging and intimidation, and is running again this year.
Taiwan has been competing with China on the global stage for years, and gained the world’s attention in January when it elected Tsai Ing-wen as its first female president. While China has not recognized Taiwan’s independence, claiming it must be reunited with the mainland, Taiwan economic impact is felt in its being a player in computer technology and e-commerce.
Pandemic – Outbreak of the Zika Virus
One of the biggest news stories in early 2016 is the outbreak of the Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitoes, and poses dangers to unborn babies, risking brain damage and unusually small heads in newborns. For most people, infection does not result in symptoms, and does not lead to lasting harm. The World Health Organization’s warning that Zika is “spreading explosively” in the Americas (where it was extremely rare) was made mostly out of concern for pregnant women.
Evidence of Zika has been found in Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, U.S. Virgin Islands, Colombia, Barbados, and other countries in Central and South America. The Centers for Disease Control have issued a list of popular tourist destinations pregnant women should not travel to: Barbados, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, and the U.S. Virgin Island.
There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, travelers are recommended to prevent mosquito bites by covering skin with long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and by using insect repellent.
Safety Tips for Travelers
- Monitor the news from reliable sources for any reports of terrorism, violence or demonstrations. Some of the best sites for world news are the New York Times, BBC, and the Institute for Wars and Peace reporting (www.iwpr.net).
Avoid going to any places where violence is occurring, or where there is a threat of violence. The U.S. State Department has instituted travel warnings advising against all travel to Syria, Afghanistan, and the Central African Republic. It also recommends against all non-essential travel to Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- When traveling in dangerous countries, make sure the right paperwork is valid and handy with you, which includes passport, driver’s license, student I.D., and visa.
- Update family and friends as to where you are going, and have the location and phone numbers for the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and contact them in the event of an emergency.
Important Insurance to Explore
For multinational organizations, it is necessary to pay attention to current and future terrorist attacks, political elections, and pandemic that might lead to violence and civil unrest. The following types of insurance can help prevent economic damage to businesses if political turmoil occurs:
- Political Violence & Terrorism
- Business Interruption
- Kidnap & Ransom
- Medical Evacuation and Repatriation
Clements Worldwide encourages companies with international interests to be aware of political elections as a possible source of civil unrest. Planning ahead for potential problems can save your company a great deal of time, money, and stress. For the latest information on safety and security, visit Clements’ country risk assessment guides.