Kenya – A general election will take place in Kenya on 9th August, with the main issues being the economy, cost of living, anti-corruption and affordable health care. There are four main candidates, Raila Odinga, who has run unsuccessfully for the office of President four times previously, 55-year-old Deputy President William Ruto, George Wajackoyah, who is proposing the legalisation of marijuana cultivation and David Mwaure Waihiga, who is running on an anti-corruption ticket.
Outside of the political issues, there are underlying ethnic issues and this is why there are concerns the elections could become violent. Many votes in Kenya are cast along ethnic beliefs and previous elections have seen this spill over to widespread violence, which has included people being attacked and killed merely because of the community they come from. International observers are concerned that the police are not sufficiently equipped or prepared to deal with the predicted demonstrations and this could further inflame the situation.
Many foreign organisations based in Kenya are encouraging their staff to work from home, where possible, during and immediately after the elections. Tensions are expected to be running high and foreign nationals are advised to avoid large crowds and demonstrations. Any organisations with staff or clients in Kenya should review their safety and security plans and brief their personnel accordingly.
Argentina – The Argentine economy is in rapid decline once more and there are concerns from the international monetary community that with a troubled peso, a failing economy and a lack of funds in the Central Bank’s reserves, this could lead to a desperate situation in the country. Argentina has a poor record when it comes to managing its finances, but the knock-on effect could impact safety and security across the country.
The demise of the economy is likely to see a rise in crime in the South American country and foreign travellers have been the target of criminals in the past. In 2019 two British travellers were shot, one fatally, after being targeted on their route from the airport to their hotel in the Puerto Madero district of Buenos Aires.
Those visiting, or working in Argentina should monitor the situation carefully and keep an eye on the wider international context, where disruption in global supply chains will undoubtedly increase inflationary pressures. This in turn will add to socio-economic issues within Argentina and increase the security risk.
Iran/Sweden – The official IRNA news agency reported on 30th July that Iran had arrested a Swedish citizen on espionage charges. The arrest comes after a court in Stockholm sentenced a former Iranian official for war crimes earlier this month. Iran has arrested dozens of foreigners and dual nationals in recent years, mostly on espionage and security-related accusations. Human rights groups have described it as a tactic to win concessions from foreign governments by inventing charges, a claim which Tehran denies.
Iranian officials did not give a name or say when the arrest was made, but added that the suspect had a history of going to the Palestinian territories and went to non-tourist destinations in Iran. They also claim the arrested individual contacted people, including Europeans, under surveillance. The intelligence ministry statement accused Sweden of “proxy spying” on behalf of Israel, which it said would draw a “proportional reaction” from Iran.
While many governments advise against travel to Iran, especially for dual-nationals, the number of foreigners in custody highlights the potential risks involved in travelling to Iran. Any organisation operating in Iran should adopt enhanced safety and security procedures for their travellers, including regular briefings and updates on events which could impact the safety of their personnel.
China/Taiwan – China has held live-fire drills near Taiwan as US-China tensions rise. In the past China has been unequivocal in its stance on US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi visiting Taiwan, warning there will be “consequences”. In a statement, China implied that it might use military force if the visit goes ahead.
Pelosi, who would be the highest-ranking American elected official to visit Taiwan since 1997, has yet to confirm whether she will go, but the stand-off is doing little to ease US-China relations. The impact will likely unsettle travel to China for those from Western countries.
Caution should be taken when travelling to China and special attention should be given to cyber security threats, before, during and after travel to the country. Security briefings should be provided prior to travel and debriefings upon return.
Mike Bisley, Chief Security Analyst
The TRIP Group