Laos Intelligence Summary – September 2018
Date: 16 September 2018
Monitoring Period: 00:00 hours, 01 AUG 2018 to 23:59 hours, 15 SEP 2018 (GMT+8)
This Intelligence Summary Report (INTSUM) on Laos is intended to analyse what has been happening within the country in terms of threats which are tracked by Intelligence Fusion; those being threats of Direct Weapons, Suicide/Complex Attacks, Indirect Weapons, Air, Maritime, Grenades, Protests, Criminality, Hazards and Other. This report aims to provide an overview of what has been happening in Laos overall, outline the significant activities which have been occurring and provide analysis in terms of the following Intelligence Requirements:
- What threats exist in Laos?
- How do these threats continue to exist?
- What are the issues behind these threats?
- What significant events will affect the country’s situation and threats?
As this report is the first on Laos, this INTSUM will aim to provide a starting point for analysing future developments.
With the certainty of floods posing the most significant threat at this time; all kinds of travel throughout Laos will PROBABLY carry increased risks. With the cyclones approaching, this situation will continue for a considerable amount of time. The Tropical Cyclones – BARIJAT-18 and MANGKHUT-18 – currently tracking towards Laos will PROBABLY mean that all travel into and through Laos will not be possible.
A communist state since 1975, Laos has been run under a socialist regime closely aligned with neighbouring Vietnam. Overall, the country is safe to travel in except for Xaisomboun province, east of Vang Vieng, because of potential for armed attacks. There have been several shootings and detonations of improvised explosive devices, resulting in deaths and injuries. Additionally, there is a threat of unexploded ordnance in rural areas (Central Intelligence Agency 2018; Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 2018; UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2018).
Initial research on Laos indicates the following threats exist within the country:
- Human Trafficking – Laos is a source and transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Laos is listed has a Tier 2 rating from the United States when it comes to human trafficking; Laos does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Lao economic migrants are subject to conditions of forced labour or sexual exploitation in destination countries – most often Thailand – Lao women and girls are exploited in Thailand’s commercial sex trade, domestic service, factories, and agriculture (Central Intelligence Agency 2018).
- Illicit drugs: Laos is a country which cultivates opium poppy and methamphetamine. Estimated opium poppy cultivation in 2015 was estimated to be 5,700 hectares, compared with 6,200 hectares in 2014 (Central Intelligence Agency 2018).
COMMENT. Drug trafficking has been a recurring incident in Thailand; particularly in its Northern regions that border Laos as shown below. There have been frequent seizures of Methamphetamine and several other drugs. COMMENT ENDS.
Monitoring of open sources in Laos for information relating to incidents tracked by Intelligence Fusion has proven to be difficult. Media reporting within Laos appears to be heavily regulated. Consequently, trying to establish what threats are occurring within Laos regularly cannot be accurately determined at this time, not even the nature of either the previously mentioned Drug or Human Trafficking.
From 01 AUG 2018 to the time of this report, only 39 incidents have been able to be logged through monitoring open sources. Having said that, what can be accurately determined at this time is the threat from natural hazards in Laos is widespread.
From 01 AUG 2018 to 15 SEP 2018, incidents logged for Laos have shown there are widespread threats from Floods. The current monsoon conditions seen within the country are similar to those which have been reported on in Thailand and Myanmar; heavy rains have been causing rivers to overflow – particularly the Mekong River – dams have had to increase the rate they discharge water and the subsequent flooding has been affecting access and damaging infrastructure (Pratten et al. 2018a, 2018b).
While there had been reports of some areas within Vientiane province beginning to see water levels reduce; separate reporting and a cyclone warning issued on 12 SEP 2018 indicate that most of Laos will be affected by two tropical cyclones currently travelling towards the country. Tropical Cyclones BARIJAT-18 and MANGKHUT-18 are assessed to pose major threats to several countries across South East Asia (Pratten et al. 2018c).
COMMENT. The recurring floods in Laos have been the most frequent mention in available Open Source reports. These two approaching cyclones and their assessed severity will thus enable that focus to continue albeit at the expense of monitoring other threats. COMMENT ENDS.
Nothing Significant to Report at this time.
DIRECT WEAPONS, CRIMINALITY, SUICIDE/COMPLEX ATTACKS, INDIRECT WEAPONS, AIR, MARITIME, GRENADES, PROTESTS & OTHER
Nothing Significant to Report at this time.
|Less than 50%||50% or greater||75% or greater||95% or greater|
It is difficult to verify the majority of threats in Laos – with the exception of Hazards – at this time. Open Source reporting for Laos will PROBABLY continue to focus on the threats from Floods and Cyclones. Until the monsoon season passes, there will only be POTENTIAL to gain information on threats apart from Hazards.
With the certainty of floods posing the most significant threat at this time; all kinds of travel throughout Laos will PROBABLY carry increased risks. With the cyclones approaching, this situation will continue for a considerable amount of time.
The Tropical Cyclones – BARIJAT-18 and MANGKHUT-18 – currently tracking towards Laos will PROBABLY mean that all travel into and through Laos will not be possible.
Central Intelligence Agency 2018, ‘The World Factbook : Laos’, The World Factbook, retrieved August 19, 2018, from <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/la.html>.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 2018, ‘Laos Travel Advice’, Smart Traveller, retrieved September 16, 2018, from <https://smartraveller.gov.au/Countries/asia/south-east/Pages/laos.aspx>.
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2018, ‘Laos Travel Advice’, Foreign Travel Advice, retrieved September 16, 2018, from <https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/laos>.
PRATTEN M, McCabe, M, Harrington, D & Brown, L 2018a, ‘Thailand Intelligence Report August 2018’, Intelligence Fusion, retrieved July 16, 2018, from <file:///Users/mattpratten/Desktop/Intelligence%20Report%20-%20Thailand%20(August%202018).pdf>.
PRATTEN M, McCabe, M, Harrington, D & Brown, L 2018b, ‘Flooding in Myanmar: Is it safe to travel?’, Intelligence Fusion, retrieved September 8, 2018, from <https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/blog/flooding-in-myanmar-is-it-safe-to-travel>.
PRATTEN M, McCabe, M, Harrington, D & Brown, L 2018c, ‘Threat Warning For Cyclones BARIJAT-18 and MANGKHUT-18’, Intelligence Fusion, retrieved September 16, 2018, from <https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/blog/threat-warning-for-cyclones-braijat-18-and-mangkhut-18>.