Bangladesh Country Report
Bangladesh's election commission on 31 December announced that the ruling Awami League (AL)-led Grand Alliance had secured 288 of 300 directly elected seats in parliamentary elections held the previous day. Despite the opposition's rejection of the election result, opposition legal challenges or protests are unlikely to be able to force a re-election or to hinder government formation. Other triggers for violent protests include wage demands in the garment sector and various student demands. Irrespective of the election result, the government is likely to continue to encourage foreign investment, with a growing preference for Chinese involvement in the infrastructure, power, and manufacturing sectors. The likely eradication of an Islamic State cell that carried out attacks, includingagainst foreigners, in 2016 has reduced terrorism risks, but long-term drivers of Islamist radicalism remain.
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 and 2018, further attacks against local political leaders, religious minorities, secularists, security forces, and foreigners remain a high risk in the one-year outlook. Attacks will probably remain crude, using mostly machetes and easily available small-arms. Attacks are particularly probable in Dhaka, but previous incidents have also been concentrated in the Khulna, Rajshahi, and Rangpur 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's 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.
There is an increased risk of opposition parties holding protests against the December 2018 election result. Any violence will probably be focused in Chittagong and Dhaka, as well as in the Khulna and Rajshahi divisions. Protesters usually throw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police or government property, triggering fighting with security forces. However, unrest is unlikely to last more than a few weeks or to reach the scale of protests in 2015, in which 120 people were killed. Some projects, especially in the energy and power sectors, are subject to local opposition over environmental concerns and land compensation.
Vaccines Required to Enter the Country
Yellow fever: There is no risk of contracting yellow fever in Bangladesh. However, the government requires proof of vaccination for travelers arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease.
Vaccines Recommended for All Travelers
Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).
Vaccines Recommended for Most Travelers
Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.
Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).
Vaccines Recommended for Some Travelers
Cholera: A newly licensed cholera vaccine (Vaxchora) has just been made available and may be prescribed for adults traveling to areas with active cholera transmission. The vaccine prevents severe diarrhea caused by the most common type of cholera bacteria. As the vaccine is not fully effective, hygienic precautions should also be taken (e.g. drinking only bottled water, eating only thoroughly cooked foods, washing hands regularly, etc.).
Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.
Japanese encephalitis: Japanese encephalitis is typically only present in rural areas. Discuss travel plans with your doctor to decide if you need the JE vaccine, which is administered in two doses spaced over a month. The last dose should be administered at least ten days prior to departure for an at-risk area to be fully effective.
Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.
Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).
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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