DECember Preview

December Timeline

What to look out for this month:

Selected Calendar Events

1 December

World AIDS Day

NEGLIGIBLE RISK
The day has been observed since 1988 to raise awareness about the HIV epidemic around the world. This year, with the theme of “End inequalities. End AIDS” is to focus on reaching people left behind and an oppor- tunity to show support for people living with HIV. The activities occur worldwide through events coordinated by international and local organizations to reach the targeted group.

3 December

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

NEGLIGIBLE RISK

10 December

Human Rights Day

NEGLIGIBLE RISK
Each year, the world commemorates the Human Rights Day to promote the concept of inalienable rights, which everyone is en- titled to as a human being. This date marks when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Hu- man Rights in 1948. However, rallies cannot be ruled out, especially in urban centers worldwide.

18 December

International Migrants Day

NEGLIGIBLE RISK

21 December

Winter Solstice

NEGLIGIBLE RISK

25 December

Christmas Day

NEGLIGIBLE RISK

26 December

Boxing Day

NEGLIGIBLE RISK

31 December

New Year's Eve

NEGLIGIBLE RISK
The last day of 2021. Major celebrations are likely to resume, especially in big cities like Dubai, London, and New York City. It is also expected to be grand as in the previous year, many major events were halted due to Covid-19. The world communities will celebrate the day in various styles and customs.

Elections & Independence Day

2 December

National Day in the United Arab Emirates

LOW RISK
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will celebrate the country’s Golden Jubilee National Day. The biggest celebration will be held in Hatta, Dubai, with a floating theatrical experience. Additionally, an action-packed long weekend can be expected during this period.

2 December

National Day in Laos

LOW RISK

4 December

Presedential election in Gambia

LOW RISK

6 December

Independence Day in Finland

LOW RISK

16 December

Independence Day in Bahrain

LOW RISK

18 December

Independence Day in Taiwan

LOW RISK

18 December

National Day in Qatar

LOW RISK

19 December

Legislative election in Hong Kong SAR

LOW RISK

24 December

Presidential election in Libya

MEDIUM RISK
Localized fighting between rival presiden- tial candidates’ supporters and confronta- tions are expected in the run-up to and after election day. It will be a highly contested presidential election amid Libya’s deterio- rating political and economic environment.
Risk Level Categories
NEGLIGIBLE RISK
LOW RISK
MEDIUM RISK
HIGH RISK
CRITICAL RISK
Energy crisis in europe, china and india
Risk Assessment Energy Crisis

Europe, China, and India face energy crisis as winter looms

After almost two years of pandemic restrictions, many countries across the world have slowly embarked on the idea of living with Covid-19 and thus beginning to restart their economies. Although this development is welcomed by many across the globe, several countries and regions are now facing a different set of problems.

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The energy crisis is set to have ripple effects ahead of the winter months. From Europe to Asia, governments have begun to sound the alarm over an impending energy crisis due to various factors, including economic and political ones.
In Europe, the rising demand amid a shortage of supply meant that prices have gone up tremendously since October. As a highly reliant continent on gas imports from Russia, the latest predicament has also been exacerbated by Moscow’s move to cut exports below their 2019 level. Furthermore, European gas production has also been on the decline. Several North Sea gas deposits are nearing depletion, while those in the Netherlands will close by mid-2022. The impact of the crisis has already been felt in many countries, with North Macedonia declaring a 30- day state of emergency over the shortages. On the other hand, the UK was thought to have approached Qatar to be the “supplier of last resort” should the crisis prolongs. For the people, the situation has also inevitably caused their electricity bill to soar, as with many other everyday purchases, including food items. Aside from the rising prices, the direct impact on travelers seemed to have been kept to a minimum for now.
As the European crisis unravels, the world’s biggest electricity consumer, China, ran into trouble with millions of homes and factories in multiple provinces suffering from blackouts since late September. The country has long been struggling to balance its domestic and industrial demands. As coal prices soared due to reduced production, the cost of producing electricity has also increased drastically. The decisive intervention by Beijing in regulating electricity prices also meant that most coal-fired power plants were operating at a loss, thus forcing them to lower their output. Although some steps have been taken to address the lack of coal and stabilize the situation, the upcoming winter months are still pushing demand to an all-time high. Leaving those in northeastern provinces such as Heilongjiang, Liaoning, and Shandong particularly vulnerable. Power rationing remains a possibility if the situation demands, raising the possibility of transport and business disruptions.
Power rationing in china
Figure 1: Power rationing in China has dramatically affected industrial-reliant provinces in the north-east of the country (Source: The Lantau Group)
In Asia, it is not only China facing such a crisis. India, another regional economic hub and a major consumer of electricity, was also on the brink of a crisis. The situation in India is also comparable with China, as most of its plants are fuelled by coal. Against the backdrop of rising prices, electricity production has been severely affected. Since October, the government has been ramping up coal stocks, and things appeared to have been turning around. The monsoon season that is coming to an end soon is also a slight relief as demand for power is also expected to fall. While there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel, situation remains precarious and as the mercury is expected to drop in the north, demand could spike again due to usage of heating equipment.

What should I do in the event of a sudden power outage?

  1. Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment, or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
  2. Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out, and roads will be congested.
  3. Check with utility providers for regular updates.
  4. Equip yourself with a travel flashlight if heading to a country known to have frequent blackouts. Otherwise, most smartphones are also equipped with a torchlight function.
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La Nina
Risk assessment Ezza La Nina

Holiday season woes: Travellers to brace for La Nina, industrial actions, and planned maintenance works

December is here, which means travel would peak despite the uncertain outlook of the Covid-19 situation around the world. This month, people will rejoice for multiple religious, communal festivities to visit families and friends or just to enjoy the holiday. However, traveling during one of the busiest months of the year is not necessarily a breeze, and here are some of the issues that one should take note of:

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The return of La Niña

The weather phenomenon La Niña has cooler-than- average sea temperatures. This might sound like a piece of positive news, as it is the opposite of El Niño, which brings hotter weather elsewhere. However, climate change has made the cooler weather colder. The grim weather forecast began to unfold in late July from the United States to eSwatini to Australia that surely complicates travel. La Niña mostly has affected countries in the tropical Pacific Ocean. This year, however, the impact would be more violent on all regions worldwide than it has ever been recorded as La Niña increases the potential for more storms and wet weather. In the United States, its northern parts will be colder, while southern parts will be drier, drawing out droughts. Europe will also not be left out to feel the extremely cold weather conditions. Countries in Asia are likely to experience prolonged monsoons with patches of extreme winter for some.
The adverse weather conditions could lead to potentially devastating hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and landslides. Therefore, these natural disasters could interrupt travel plans due to possible transport disruptions, including delays and cancellations. Transport authorities worldwide may issue a notice of disruption to services based on weather conditions. For instance, in India, Indian Railways has given an early announcement stating the suspension of multiple train services between December and February 2022 due to the effect of dense fog and climatic conditions in winter.

Watch our for strikes!

Besides weather, travelers may encounter disruptions to ground travel services as transport workers are gearing up for strike action. Troubles may take days and weeks throughout the month as actions, especially around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, could alter travelers’ plans and itineraries for the holidays. At Safeture, we monitor the strike action from time to time, giving out alerts ahead of the planned walkouts. Here is a snippet of disruptions that are expected to take place:

United Kingdom

The UK Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) has announced strike actions on several dates. London: Drivers on Jubilee, Central, Piccadilly, Victoria, and Northern lines are due to take part in several walkouts between 26 November and 18 December. Wales: In addition, severe disruptions are expected as bus drivers in Wales will commence a five-week industrial action through 19 December. However, the strike may be called off if there is a significant improvement in discussion with authorities.

Essential planned engineering works

To add to travel misery, travelers can expect planned engineering works on train routes that lead to changes in train timetables.

United Kingdom

For at least ten days, delays and cancellations are expected on mainline routes between London and the South, South-West, Wales, and Glasgow. The shutdowns have yet to be added to any timetables. Network Rail provides regular updates on maintenance works on its page.

New Zeeland

KiwiRail indicated that Rail passengers in Auckland will be hit with the closure of the metro rail network amid upgrading works between 26 December and 23 January.

Australia

The Mandurah Line in Western Australia will be shut down between 26 December and 14 January 2022 amid the preparation of new tracks.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IN CASE OF A NATURAL DISASTER WHILE TRAVELLING?

  • Find out what type of natural disasters happen in the area you are traveling to.
  • Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow, or dense fog. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
  • Listen to a weather radio broadcast, this safety service, or other local news channels for critical information on cold event updates.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas prone to flash flooding, which can occur with or without typical warnings, such as rain clouds or heavy rain.
  • Follow advice and orders from the local authorities in case of evacuation.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IN CASE OF PLANNED STRIKES AND ENGINEERING WORKS?

  • Confirm all public transport reservations.
    • Avoid checking out of accommodations until onward travel is confirmed.
  • Check local media sources for up-to-date information on the status of public transport.
  • Consider alternative transportation to mitigate disruptions.

On the Radar

Elevated terror threat in Uganda

On 16 November, multiple suicide bombers detonated explosives in Kampala, killing and injuring dozens of people. These attacks come in the wake of similar incidents in October that saw blasts at a bar in Kampala and a bus 30km west of the capital that claimed multiple lives. These attacks highlight a worrying increase in terrorist activity that has been spearheaded by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). This Islamic State-affiliated militant group has waged a bloody insurgency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda. In the wake of these attacks, both France and the United Kingdom have warned of a heightened terror threat in Uganda, and neighboring countries, including Kenya, have bolstered security at border regions. For decades, the ADF has primarily operated out of the North Kivu and Ituri provinces of the DRC. Still, recent years have seen more frequent and deadlier attacks targeting civilian populations in the region. These new developments can suggest that the groups’ scope and ambitions have evolved that could see further attacks being perpetrated across the border in Uganda in the coming months.
Risk assessment tension in Jammu

Tension brews in Jammu and Kashmir amid a spate of violent incidents

Violence has escalated in the Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir region. One of the most severe clashes between Indian armed forces and militants occurred in Poonch in October, and a string of killings suspected to have been perpetrated by separatist militants have taken place since. The increased insecurity has led to large-scale detentions in the region. In the first part of November, there have been reports of large public venues in Srinagar being converted into military barracks, indicating increased military deployments. Construction of a new network of checkpoints along Srinagar roads has also been reported, leading to speculation of restrictions that could impede daily life in the city. The combination of increased militarisation and encroachment elevated animosity among communities, and continued militant provocations could lead to outbursts of violent incidents and rapid deterioration of the security situation in the region.

Zero breakthroughs: UK and France squabble over post-Brexit fishing license

Tensions have escalated again after French authorities seized a British trawler in its territorial waters. The deepening fishing row between the United Kingdom (UK) and France remains unsettled even after 11 months since Brexit. The strained ties worsened when France alleged Britain of failing to grant fishing licenses to dozens of French fishers. The latest post-Brexit fishing row has caused a stir and revived French threats to impose several sanctions if the UK fails to fulfill post-Brexit fishing agreements. Some of them include increasing the energy tariff, especially for Jersey, and banning British fishing vessels from entering selected French ports. Moreover, France plans to tighten controls on lorries to and from the UK, which may raise a new crisis ahead of the Christmas season. Nevertheless, the UK has vowed to retaliate in an “appropriate and calibrated” manner. In short, despite the ongoing dialogue between both representatives, there is still no solid breakthrough, and more talks are likely in the future to reach a solution.
Risk assessment Gambia presidential election

The Gambia's presidential election: Between hope and tension

The Gambia will be holding an election on 4 December to elect a new president for another five-year term. According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), a total of six candidates will be vying for the post. Including Adama Barrow, the current president running with his newly founded party, the National People’s Party (NPP); Ousainou Darboe with the United Democratic Party, the main opponent of Adama Barrow; Mama Kandeh, founder of the Gambia Democratic Congress group, among others. The voting will be the first since 2016 that saw the exile of former President Yahya Jammeh in its aftermath. More importantly, it is also set to be a litmus test for Gambia’s democratic transition in the post-Jammeh era, especially when Barrow’s government has been accused of numerous human-rights violations for the past several years. Amid such concern, the European Union (EU) will send 70 election observers to assist the IEC in monitoring the election and risk of tension running high is possible should the voting process be found to be fraudulent.

Disease watch: Ebola

Disease watch ebola

DR Congo’s 13th Ebola outbreak highlights persistent viral threat

A new Ebola outbreak in Beni, North Kivu province, has scrambled health workers to try to contain the spread of the virus again.

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Between 8 and 30 October, at least 11 cases, including six fatalities, were confirmed in parts of the city. Beni is also a commercial hub with links to the neighboring countries of Uganda and Rwanda. New cases could spring up well beyond the city’s limits. As with previous outbreaks, containment efforts in the province will likely be hampered by poor health infrastructure,
already strained due to Covid-19, and security instability. Presently, all cases have been reported in three health areas of Beni, with no further infections reported since 30 October. However, authorities are concerned about the risk of silent transmission as many possible contacts have been lost to follow up. With the recent discovery that Ebola can lay dormant in the human body longer than previously expected, further monitoring of the situation will be required.

Disease watch: covid-19

Risk assessment covid19
Disease watch covid19

Lagging Covid-19 vaccination rate leaves healthcare systems in Eastern Europe vulnerable

After experiencing a downtrend of Covid-19 cases during the summer, the outbreak situation in several Eastern European countries and Russia took a turn for the worse since late October, with hospitals starting to fill up once again.

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Cases and deaths climbed to a record level in these countries as vaccination rates remained relatively low compared to their western European peers, experiencing an uptick in infections. For instance, the vaccination rate in Russia only managed to reach 35 percent as of late
November, with similar trends also occurring in Bulgaria (24 percent), Romania (31 percent), and Ukraine (20 percent). The resistance against vaccines has been high in these nations, as with the cost of not taking them. Authorities imposed lockdowns and restrictive measures in a bid to contain the spread of the virus, and they seem likely to last into the Christmas holidays and New Year. Although opinions have started to shift, many hospitals in these countries will continue to be at risk of being overwhelmed as winter approaches.
Source(s): Associated Press, Our World in Data, BBC
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