I thought that a bi-monthly security assessment by an expert will be a good addition to this blog. So, I intend to have a bi-monthly security assessment, and The Reneric Group has given me the permission to post the following Regional Security assessment. Please, I am looking forward to your feedback and comments. – Sany
By Byron Brown, MSA
CEO/President The Reneric Group
December 18, 2013
The following report is the current security issues occurring in Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda. All organizations and businesses operating in these areas should pay particular attention to the safety and security they are providing their customers and employees.
Central Africa Republic (CAR) – Extreme conditions The ongoing violence and displaced persons crises worsens throughout the CAR, more than 240,000 displaced persons are being affected by the violence. Christian militias massacred 27 Muslims in a village in the west of the Central African Republic (CAR) on Thursday, UN officials said Friday. The French government has deployed more soldiers to the country and continues to support the efforts to stabilize the worsening security situation in CAR.
The United Nations Children’s Fund is reporting more than 2.3 million children are being affected by the violence in CAR, as many as 6,000 are believed to have been recruited as child soldiers and being killed for being Muslim or Christians.
Chad – Continued Travel Alert: U.S. citizens are warned of the risks of travel to Chad and recommends citizens avoid all travel to eastern Chad and border regions. Because of security concerns, the U.S. Embassy in Chad reviews all proposed travel by official U.S. government personnel to areas outside the capital, N’Djamena, and its immediate surroundings before approving such arrangements.
U.S. citizens affiliated with humanitarian relief efforts similarly should review security precautions and consider measures to mitigate exposure to violent crime and other threats. U.S. citizens residing in Chad should exercise caution throughout the country.
The frequency of violent crime in rural Chad is highly variable. Incidents of robbery, carjacking at gunpoint, and murder have been reported throughout the country. While there have been no kidnapping for ransom incidents in Chad since 2010, regional trends suggest this still could be a potential threat in the future. Violence is occasionally associated with car accidents and other events causing injury to Chadian nationals.
Robbery victims have been beaten and killed, surgeons conducting unsuccessful medical interventions have been threatened with bodily harm, and law enforcement/military officials have been implicated in violent crime. In addition, although the last active rebel group was recently disarmed, armed groups might reemerge with little warning. The Government of Chad has few resources to guarantee the safety of visitors in rural Chad.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – The United Nations mission in the DRC sent soldiers conducting foot patrols and attack helicopters to North Kivu following the discovery of 21 brutally slaughtered civilians, including babies, children and women, some mutilated and raped. The bodies were discovered on Friday and Saturday in Musuku village in the Rwenzori area of Beni sector. The killers are yet to be identified, but villagers questioned believe they could be the work of the Allied Democratic Forces or the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda.
Continued travel alert: U.S. citizens should be aware of the risks of traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) (DRC). Security officials strongly recommend you avoid all travel to the city of Goma and the province of North Kivu, and all but essential travel to the province of South Kivu and the Ituri region in the province of Oriental. Because of ongoing instability and violence, the Department of State ability to provide consular services to U.S. citizens in these regions of the DRC is extremely limited.
Armed groups, bandits, and elements of the Congolese military remain security concerns in eastern and northeastern DRC. These armed groups, primarily located in the North Kivu, South Kivu, and Orientale provinces, as well as the northern part of Katanga province, and the eastern part of Maniema province, are known to pillage, steal vehicles, kidnap, rape, kill, and carry out military or paramilitary operations in which civilians are indiscriminately targeted. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is present near the border with Uganda, Central African Republic, and the Republic of South Sudan.
The UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) continues to assist the Congolese government with the protection of civilians and efforts to combat armed groups.
Travelers are frequently detained and questioned by poorly disciplined security forces at numerous official and unofficial roadblocks and border crossings throughout the country. Requests for bribes in such instances are extremely common, and security forces have occasionally injured or killed people who refused to pay. In the past year, several U.S. citizens were illegally detained by government forces, or were robbed of their valuables while being searched. Very poor infrastructure (road and air) makes the provision of consular services difficult outside of Kinshasa.
Kinshasa has a critical crime threat level, and U.S. citizens continue to be the victims of serious crimes, including armed robbery by groups posing as law enforcement officials in both urban and rural areas, especially after nightfall. Avoid walking alone and displaying cash and other personal property of value. Avoid taking photos in public, especially of government buildings and the airport (which are viewed as places of national security), police stations, the presidential palace, border crossings, and along the river, since doing so may lead to arrest
Ghana – Continued alert: West Africa is a major hub for drugs smuggled from Latin America and Asia to Europe and the US. The local criminal organizations operating within Ghana have unlimited funds from drug sales/trafficking and have the ability to purchase weapons and intimidate the communities at will. All organizations operating in Ghana should have security; policies and procedures in place to make sure their personnel are operating and living in a safe and secure environment.
Gulf of Guinea – Local officials are concerned as efforts begin to deliver results in combating piracy near Somalia, the Gulf of Guinea is beginning to experience an increase in piracy. All organizations operating in this area should be on heightened alert for pirate activity.
Kenya – Nairobi: There is police search for the man believed to be responsible for a grenade attack which killed six people in a mini-bus taxi in Pangani in Nairobi. The country director, Justus Nyang’aya for Amnesty International was shot three times during a robbery while he was in his home, Mr. Nyang’aya is reported to be in stable condition following the attack.
Continued Alert: The continued alert is still in effect for the most populated cities of Nairobi and possibly outlying areas of the country. The warning includes Al-Shabaab (“the youth”), which have reportedly threatened to continue attacking countries participating in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Peace Support Operations (PSO). Kenya, Uganda and Burundi all send Peace Support Troop contingencies to assist with PSO operations under the AMISOM mandate. The mandate supports stabilizing the current situations in Somalia in order to create a non-hostile, peaceful country.
Niger – Niamey — there is still a credible threat for violence comparable to those of Mali, from jihadist militants still operating in Sahel’s remote wilderness. The rebel leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a prominent and long-time Sahel jihadist along with the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), which had operated in northern Mali before being dislodged by the French military, is still operating in the wilderness areas of the country and can cause serious trouble.
The Maghreb terror group vowed “further operations” in Niger, which shares borders with several countries, including Algeria, Libya and Mali. The instability in Libya provided an opening for Islamist militants driven out of Mali, Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou has warned.
Terrorist groups have called for and executed attacks against countries that have supported intervention against terrorist groups in northern Mali, including Niger. The areas bordering Mali and Libya, and the northern region of Niger continue to be of specific concern.
Nigeria – The Nigerian Federal government announced and displayed their unmanned aircraft (drone), designed and built by the Nigerian Air Force. The drone is already in use flying missions over Nigeria.
Continued warning: Abubakar Shekau, The leader of the Islamist militant group called for increased attacks on schools teaching Western style classes. All but essential travel to the following states due to the risk of kidnappings, robberies, and other armed attacks: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara. Also, travel to the Gulf of Guinea should only be considered for extreme emergencies, because of the threat of piracy.
Sudan / South Sudan – Heavy fighting occurred in Juba involving presidential guards, some sources indicate a possible coup was taking place, resulting in heavy gunfire. The city was placed on curfew after the clash begun and is still in effect until the officials can restore law and order in the city. Kenya airways have suspended all flights to Juba until the security situation is under control.
Anyone traveling in either country should be extra careful and have a security escorts due to numerous reports of ethnic violence and the constant threat of kidnapping of foreign workers (EXPATS), NGO’s and tourist.
Somalia – Mogadishu — The recent failed attempt by the U.S. Special Forces to extract high level rebels from Somalia show they still have the support of many people, necessary fire power and intelligence to thwart a specialized assault by the elite U.S. Special Forces. Al-Shabab is reported to have been removed from the capital area, but have taken root in several other East African countries, vowing to fight all enemies of their movement and any country participating in the Peace Support Operations in Somalia. The attack on the West Gate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya prove they have the will, resources, and ability to plan a coordinated attack in broad day light and hold off law enforcement agencies for days if not longer. They also have the ability to recruit assistance from countries outside of Africa to fight with their cause.
Continued alert: The security situation inside Somalia remains unstable and dangerous. Terrorist operatives and armed groups in Somalia have demonstrated their intent to attack the Somali authorities, African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and other non-military targets. Kidnapping, bombings, murder, illegal roadblocks, banditry, and other violent incidents and threats to U.S. citizens and other foreigners can occur in any region.
Al-Shabab has vowed to keep attacking the westerners in the style they used at the West Gate Mall in Kenya and their supporters until they leave Mogadishu and Somalia.
Uganda – there are unverified reports of possible terrorist attacks against public meeting areas, shopping malls, restaurants and schools in the city of Kampala or other major tourist areas. The unverified reports indicate Al-Shabab may be planning on carrying out an attack like they did recently in Nairobi earlier this summer. They have proven they have the personnel, funding and will to carry out the attacks.
I invite you to contact me for ways we can assist you with protecting your personnel and assets abroad. We now offer our International Security Course, which will prepare your personnel for their travel and work abroad. We also offer specialized training for law enforcement organizations and military assigned with protecting the civilian population.
Byron Brown, MSA