Bangladesh Country Report
The Awami League government has consolidated power since winning the 2014 election. It has become increasingly authoritarian, with power concentrated around Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's family. The government actively encourages foreign investment in the energy infrastructure, IT, and pharmaceuticals sectors, and plans to establish a series of special economic zones in the country to streamline the investment process. The economy continues to grow, but the government has been confrontational with the private sector and has coerced foreign-owned companies to suppress dissent. The opposition's anti-government protests are increasingly ineffective, but violent unrest, particularly affecting Dhaka and Chittagong, is likely to increase ahead of elections in 2019.
Demands for wage increases are likely to drive industrial unrest in Bangladesh's vital garment manufacturing sector over the next year. Strikes are likely in Ashulia, Gazipur, and Savar and can last up to several days, with workers often blocking major highways connecting Dhaka to the rest of the country. Chittagong and Mongla ports also face sustained operational disruption during intermittent strikes by port and truck workers. Corruption under the current government appears to have increased – local companies associated with the ruling party are likely to be able to influence government policy to their advantage.
The July 2016 attack on a cafe popular with expatriates in Dhaka's diplomatic area was a significant intensification of intent by Islamic State-associated militants. Although the frequency of attacks slowed during 2017, further attacks against local political leaders, religious minorities, secularists, security forces, and foreigners remain a high risk in the one-year outlook. Attacks are likely to remain crude, using mostly machetes and easily available small-arms. Attacks are particularly likely in Dhaka, but previous incidents have also been concentrated in Rangpur, Rajshahi, and Khulna divisions.
Full military confrontation between Bangladesh and its two neighbours, India and Myanmar, is unlikely. The Awami League government has historically enjoyed good relations with India – culminating in the resolution of a long-standing border dispute between the two countries in August 2015. The emergence of Rohingya militants operating in Bangladesh and Myanmar military operations against such groups increases the risk of localised skirmishes; however, these would be unlikely to affect any commercial operations. Bangladesh has also largely resolved its maritime disputes with India and Myanmar, reducing the risk to potential commercial activity in the Bay of Bengal.
The willingness of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to organise mass unrest has receded. Nevertheless, a political compromise allowing the BNP to participate in the next election is unlikely, increasing the likelihood of the opposition party resuming protests ahead of elections in 2019. Any violence is likely to be focused in Chittagong and Dhaka, as well as in Khulna and Rajshahi divisions. Protesters usually throw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police or government property. Some projects, especially in the energy and power sectors, are subject to local opposition over environmental concerns and land compensation.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and over one year of age.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Japanese Encephalitis: For stays of longer than one month in a rural zone during the rainy season (for children over the age of one).
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Bangladesh is vulnerable to natural disasters. Every year, one-third of the country is affected by floods. Over three days in July 2017, heavy rains affected over 900,000 people in northeastern Bangladesh, forcing large-scale evacuations. Deadly landslides and mudslides occur regularly after torrential rains; at least 140 people were killed in mudslides in the south in June 2017.
Cyclones and tropical storms regularly hit coastal regions. The worst occurrence dates to 2007 with Cyclone Sdir, which left 1500 people dead in its wake. Most recently, Cyclone Mora killed seven people after making landfall between the cities of Chittagong and Cox's Bazar, areas regularly affected by rains and floods.
Thunderstorms are very dangerous in Bangladesh; for example, 22 people were killed by lightning strikes within a two-day period in June 2017.
Foreign visitors should note that Bangladesh is a developing country and that infrastructure - particularly roads - is in poor condition. Furthermore, public transportation is not very reliable or safe and is best avoided.
Prolonged power outages are common in the summer, a period of intense heat on the subcontinent. Outages often provoke violent protests by angry residents.
The climate in Bangladesh ranges from subtropical to tropical, with a dry and relatively cool season (lows of 21°C) extending from November to February and a rainy season from April to October. The monsoon affects the country between June and September and causes numerous floods. There is a risk of cyclones between May and June and again from October until November. From March to May, the country experiences very high temperatures (35°C) and high levels of humidity, as well as frequent violent thunderstorms.
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