June Preview

June timeline

What to look out for this month:

1-30 June

LGBTQ Pride month

LOW RISK

LGBTQ (“Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer”) Pride month is celebrated each year in the month of June to hone the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, NY, which was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBTQ Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world.

2 June

Republic Day in Italy

LOW RISK

4 June

32nd anniversary of 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing

LOW RISK

Tiananmen Square massacre was a series of pro-democracy protests and demonstrations in China in the spring of 1989 that culminated on the night of June 3-4 with a government crackdown on the demonstrations in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The crackdown remains an official taboo in China, and any attempts to discuss or commemorate it would be forcefully curbed.

5 June

World Environment Day 2021

LOW RISK

10 June

National Day in Portugal

LOW RISK

6 June

National Day in Sweden

NEGLIGIBLE RISK

6 June

Legislative election in Mexico

LOW RISK

12 June

Legislative election in Algeria

MEDIUM RISK

There is a possibility for protests, particularly in the capital opposing the election, which may result in clashes between protesters and police.

12 June

Independence Day in the Philippines

LOW RISK

20 June

Parliamentary election in Armenia

MEDIUM RISK

Protests may occur, particularly in the capital with a risk of clashes between supporters of opposing sides.

25 June

National Independence Day in Mozambique

LOW RISK

30 June

Independence Day in the Democratic Republic of Congo

LOW RISK
Risk Level Categories
NEGLIGIBLE RISK
LOW RISK
MEDIUM RISK
HIGH RISK
CRITICAL RISK
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World Environment Day: how can the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration shape our lives? 

On 15 December 1972, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 5 June as World Environment Day, a result of deliberations at the Stockholm Conference. While this was a decision made among the authorities, it is necessary to credit several civil society activist groups across the world for raising awareness of environmental issues during the 60s and 70s. Since then, civil society continues to organize and demand attention to climate issues. Now, in 2021, World Environment Day will be hosted in Pakistan to launch the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. What does that mean for our everyday lives?

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First, it means environmental issues are still very much ongoing – and the risk for events such as storms causing more devastating consequences rises every day. Scientists are still studying whether and how climate change can intensify weather events, but recent papers indicate the link is probable. Starting from June, the Atlantic Hurricane season is predicted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to present above-normal activity. The season runs through November, and strong storms can trigger travel not only disruptions but also affect the personal safety of staff in risk areas. Northern and Central American countries are usually affected.  
Climate change also enhances wildfire probability by creating opportune conditions for blazes to break out and spread to larger areas. The possibility of an extended wildfire season in Australia starting again in June should not be ruled out. Furthermore, South American countries have also registered an increase in wildfires, which continue to happen sporadically across the continent.  

On a second note, it is important to notice although the international community has taken steps to recognize the need to act with regards to environmental issues, activist groups claim the response is still not enough. Hence, climate change-related protests and strikes can be expected to continue across the globe. Special attention should be given to the possibility of civil disobedience acts, which might generate persistent, localized disruptions due to activist tactics adopted during the Covid-19 pandemic. Although details of these events are somewhat unpredictable, Safeture provides real-time alerts about civil unrest. 

Ultimately, we can expect our lives to be more and more shaped by the theme of this year’s World Environment Day after its release in June, be it with respect to public policies altering infrastructure or environmental hazards. As the Ecosystem Restoration campaign calls for adhesion from civil society members, activism is also expected to grow and create new local dynamics. Employers can rest assured that Safeture will provide all necessary information to keep their staff safe. 
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Pashinyan seeks second chance amid snap election in Armenia 

All blame was pinned on Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan over Armenia’s defeat in the war with Azerbaijan in 2020, leading him to resign for a snap parliamentary election to calm an unsettled country through democratic means. The result of the war was humiliating, forcing Yerevan to cede most of the Azerbaijani territory it has occupied since the 1990s, including parts of the mostly Armenian populated Nagorno-Karabakh. This was also a slap in the face for Onik Gasparyan, the army’s chief of the General Staff, who then pressured the prime minister to step down. In return, Gasparyan was accused of attempting a coup alongside other top military leaders.

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Apart from the continued pressure from top military leaders that led to his resignation, the country was also swamped by mass protests across the country, with the biggest demonstration in Yerevan that ended up with protesters storming the government building in March. Pashinyan, who was once hailed for his liberal outlook as well as his role during the 2018 Velvet Revolution, is now facing constant backlash due to little progress for fundamental changes amid Armenia’s weak state institutions, polarised political culture, and corruption. His lackluster performance in negotiating for an end to last autumn’s conflict also became a source of anger among the populace. All these, among others, trusted Armenia into a deep political crisis amid a substantial loss of trust in the government and the opposition, on top of declining public confidence in all political factions.  

With Covid-19 pandemic coming into the picture in 2020, Pashinyan handling of the situation had also left him more vulnerable politically. Critics opined that he has not prioritized this major crisis, accusing him of focusing more on the upcoming referendum. Although Armenia has rolled out a vaccination campaign that sought to improve the pandemic situation, the government has instead been forced to counter widespread conspiracy theories that are fuelling vaccine skepticism among its citizens. Besides that, many are now worried about the slow economic recovery that has devastated many sectors in the country. In recent weeks, acting PM Pashinyan was also tested again with yet another escalation as reports emerged that Azerbaijani troops had crossed the southern border to capture Lake Sev Lich. The incursion, however, was quickly repelled. 

Despite being under immense pressure, the call for a snap poll set for 20th June signals optimism that Pashinyan will gain another mandate from the people of Armenia. While his approval rating has fallen to only about 30 percent in April, his “My Step” faction has remained the most popular political party. The real test should Pashinyan retains power is whether he can once again fulfill the expectations he brought about since his Velvet Revolution days, especially critical changes that can overturn the political crisis that has tainted Armenia for decades. 

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What to expect during the gradual lifting process of its latest lockdown in the UK?  

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On 17 May, the government of the United Kingdom relaxed further Covid-19 restrictions in England, Wales and most parts of Scotland on its economy and social domains. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had announced he hoped to provide by the end of May an update of the planned lifting of all the remaining containment rules on 21 June. However, with the loosening of lockdown measures, the resuming of international travel, and the spread of the Indian Covid variant, No. 10 has now claimed to be too soon for a definite strategy.

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Covid-19 restrictions remain in place, and people are being advised to continue working from home if they can, but now millions can socialize indoors at pubs, bars, and restaurants in limited numbers (up to six people or two households indoors and gatherings of up to 30 people outside), hug loved ones, visit museums, cinemas, theatres, and gyms - as exercise classes and indoor sports are allowed to resume.

As a consequence of the devolution, the Covid-19 responses differ in the four constituent nations, meaning that Northern Ireland only relaxed its restrictions to indoor hospitality one week later, on 24 May. Nonetheless, international travel has resumed across the UK, with countries being put on a “green,” “amber,” or “red” list - with varying quarantining rules when returning to the country - based on their infection rate. 

Notwithstanding the reopening being a sigh of relief for the economy and people’s mental health, the lifting of restrictions has been accompanied by a rise in Covid cases linked with the surge of the Indian coronavirus variant in the UK, which has already become the dominant strain in parts of North West England. According to the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), there is a high possibility that the Indian coronavirus variant could be as much as 50 percent more transmissible than the Kent or B117 strain - the Kent strain was already 50 percent or 70 percent more transmissible than previous strains - however, negligibly more resistant to the vaccines.

This new scenario has generated a range of fresh measures to tackle the spread of the Indian variant, including a change in the vaccination strategy, accelerating second doses of vaccines (eight weeks rather than 12 weeks) for those over-50s and clinically vulnerable. Localized lockdowns also appear to be on the table.

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To date, almost 70 percent of the British adult population have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while just over 38 percent have received two doses (data as of 21 May). According to UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, regarding going ahead with the final lifting of restrictions, the government will decide on 14 June. Still, it is impossible to rule out that there might be a delay or even a toughening of the rules. In the meantime, officials will be monitoring the consequences of 17 and 24 May’s easing of restrictions - the biggest step so far -, and the impact on hospital numbers in communities most affected by the new variant of the virus.
Meanwhile, people in the UK are being asked to keep wearing a face mask where social distance is impossible, such as on public transport and in shops. Also, people traveling abroad will be able to use the NHS app - which is different from the NHS Covid-19 app - to prove they have had the vaccine.

Additionally, the UK government says regular testing could be an important widget for easing restrictions. In England, anyone without symptoms can get free lateral flow tests, which give results in 30 minutes, from testing sites, pharmacies, or through the post. In Scotland, anyone can also order lateral flow test kits online or collect them from local testing centres in the afternoon or early evening. Some people without symptoms can now get lateral flow tests in Wales and Northern Ireland, including volunteers and those who cannot work from home. If you get a positive result from a lateral flow test anywhere in the country, you and your household must self-isolate immediately and get a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test to confirm the result. This can be booked online or by phone - 119 in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland, or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland.

Sources: John Hopkins University and Medicine; World Health Organisation; NHS, Gov.Uk; BBC World News

On the radar

A litmus test for controversial Mexican president?

Every president or chief of the state tends to concentrate opinions, favorable or not when it comes to the political life of a country. Andres Manual Lopez Obrador, known by his acronym AMLO, is no different. The upcoming legislative elections on 6 June will not only choose the Congress members for the next mandate but also determine whether AMLO will have the majority of the house to conduct his administration, and how many concessions and negotiations his party, MORENA (National Regeneration Movement), will have to endure. Recent election polls point out that MORENA is likely to lose its majority in the elections. They currently have 256 of the 250 needed seats in the house to guarantee the smooth sailing of the government’s projects and budget allocations. If this situation is confirmed, MORENA will face the challenge of dealing with supposed allies such as the PVEM (Green Party) and the PT (Work Party). The same poll does not indicate the need to compromise with what AMLO calls the “conservative party,” different opposition parties guided by conservative views, such as the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) and PAN (National Action Party). The flowing congressional transition of house mandates is probably anchored in AMLO’s 66 percent approval rate. With less than two weeks for the elections, only a radical movement could change the tide for AMLO supporters.

The fight for civilian rule in Chad

The unexpected demise of Chad’s long-time strongman, Idriss Déby, has cast the country into a period of political, security, and social uncertainty. The rare death of a head of state in battle could also have wider implications for a region strategically important for the French and American-led fight against jihadism. Despite these concerns, Chadians are more likely interested in shaking off the shackles of Déby’s ruthless and kleptocratic 30-plus years in office. A struggle for power has already gripped the country. Soon after Déby’s death, a Transitional Military Council (TMC) was established, and it subsequently suspended the constitution and declared an 18-month transition period. A coalition of civil society organizations and opposition parties have led the main push against the TMC. Anti-government protests have spread across major cities, including Moundou and N’Djamena. Our own reporting has highlighted the often violent nature of these gatherings, as police and security forces have regularly resorted to force to quell the protests. The TMC must also contend with an open rebellion led by the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), who operate in the north of the country. Furthermore, ongoing conflicts continue to plague the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin region. Deby’s legacy has left a fractured country that will be difficult to mend. Growing discontent is likely to lead to further protests and calls for the military to step aside and make a civil transition. Unfortunately, the TMC will undoubtedly use ever greater repression to maintain power. 

Venezuela targets armed groups in Apure 

With the decline of state institutions in Venezuela, militant groups operating in remote areas have assumed the governance of territories and become increasingly enrooted. Border regions, particularly with Colombia, are of high interest for criminal and militant groups to conduct smuggling activities and insurgency operations. Previously, Venezuelan authorities disregarded the threat posed by these groups and maintained informal ties with its members. Since March 2021 however, major military operations have been conducted in the state of Apure to regain control of the territories. The confrontations have mainly occurred with dissident members of the guerrillas of FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) and ELN (Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional), who have long operated in the border with Colombia. Although the Venezuelan military mobilized an increased number of forces, guerrilla groups have been able to cause multiple casualties and undermine the military control of the territory. Armed forces may regroup and reassess the strategy to follow. However, due to the complexity of the terrain, armed groups, transit routes for illegal goods, and the absence of functional state institutions, the conflict is expected to last in the upcoming months. Major military operations are expected to be alternated with low-key confrontations. Overall, the security situation will remain unstable.  

Colombia’s tax reform proposal spurs nationwide protests 

 Colombia was battered by weeks of unrest through May amid anger over a proposed tax reform. What started as a protest against a specific measure soon manifested into a national movement against the government of President Ivan Duque, whom critics accused of mismanagement of the economy, human rights violations as well as a botched Covid-19 vaccine rollout. Protests became a daily occurrence in major cities such as Bogota, Cali, and Barranquilla with deadly force occasionally being applied against the demonstrators. Although the government backed down from the proposal, it failed to quell the violence as protesters sought for more changes, bucking regional trend that rattled the governments of Chile, Bolivia, and Ecuador. The embattled government has promised to look at the protesters’ demands on free education, universal basic income and dismantling of the riot police force, among others, but until concrete measures are being laid out, expect the protests to continue right into June and beyond. 

Disease Watch: Heat exhaustion

Knowing when heat exhaustion strikes

As the northern hemisphere gears up for the summer season, individuals must bear in mind that the temperature can be extreme at times, thus leading to heat-related illnesses. We often hear cases of heatstroke that developed from uncontrolled heat exhaustion, often overlooked as a common occurrence when the temperature soars. It is important to know the symptoms as they can develop suddenly over time. Being in the sun for too long may expose one to heavy sweating and rapid heart rate, indicating that the body is overheating. Other symptoms include dizziness, feeling cold, and having pale and clammy skin. The symptoms can typically last for 30 minutes or less when treated promptly. Safeture has covered incidents of a heatwave across the world in the past and provided brief advice for users to avoid heat exhaustion. They include:

  • Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.  
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.  
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.  
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.  
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.  
  • Listen to a Weather Radio and this safety service for critical updates.  
  • Monitor for symptoms of heatstroke or heat exhaustion, such as high body temperature, lack of sweat, cramping, dizziness, confusion, fainting, and unconsciousness. If you start to feel any of those symptoms, seek medical attention.  

Disease Watch: Covid-19

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Rate of eight-day rolling average on the number of active cases of COVID-19 per state (13-20 May 2021). Northern and southwestern India have been the worst-affected by the latest Covid-19 surge (Source: India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare). In general, an area is at extremely high risk for unvaccinated people if it reported an average daily rate of more than 45 cases per 100,000 people over the past eight days. 

India ponders next step amid soaring Covid-19 cases

The Covid-19 outbreak has shown little signs of abating through May despite lockdown and curfew measures imposed by various state governments. At least 20 states recorded a positivity rate of more than 15 percent through early May, indicating that strong intervention measures are likely to continue till June. While preventing further deterioration of the outbreak is the central government’s priority, it is also wary of the impacts of a prolonged lockdown. The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has also ruled out a national lockdown similar to that in 2020, citing the impact on the economy. Instead, state governments were given the freedom to determine the type of restrictions based on the severity of the local outbreak. Some experts said such a move makes sense as a similar move last year pushed more Indians into the abyss of poverty. As vaccination efforts remain underwhelming and the infection rate continues to be stubbornly high, a gradual easing of measures that could last for several months seems likely as Modi seeks to strike a balance between the economy and public health.

Sources: CNN; Indian Express

Contributors

Chan Hoi Cheong
Senior Analyst and Office Manager Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Deborah Sheps
Senior Analyst, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Ezza Omar
Analyst Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Farith Ariffin
Analyst Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Frederico Caprari
Analyst, Madrid, Spain

Gabriela Ribeiro de Araujo
Analyst Sao Paulo, Brazil

Johan Emilsson
Senior Analyst Lund, Sweden

Misha Desai
Analyst Lund, Sweden

Patricia Baruffi
Analyst Lisbon, Portugal

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