Information for friends & family

Welcome! This page has information about how to stay in touch with volunteers & staff whilst they're living and working with Blue Ventures in Madagascar or Belize.

 

Andavadoaka, SouthWest Madagascar

As you know, there is poor telecommunications infrastructure in the region, and the project relies on mobile communications to stay in touch with the outside world. We have established an email forwarding system, and you can also find out what's going on at our site via our blog. Please remember that contact from the field in Madagascar is difficult, and you shouldn't worry if you haven't heard from your friend/family member.

Sarteneja, Belize

Mobile and email access available in Sarteneja village, contact at our remote dive site, Bacalar Chico Dive Camp is by mobile phone only, the signal can be intermittant.  You can also check our field site blog for accounts of what's happening at our site.

 

Recent news


25th February 2013, Madagascar - Tropical Storm Haruna has passed directly over our expedition site in Andavadoaka.  All staff and volunteers were moved to stone huts, and although there was some damage to our buildings and equipment, everyone is fine. 

18th Octboer 2012, Madagascar - The FCO travel advice for Madagascar has been updated with regards to a kidnap on 11 October. The overall level of the advice has not changed; the FCO advise against all but essential travel to Andohahela National Park and against all travel on road RN13 between Ambovombe and Ihosy. Please find an extract of the advice below.

Safety and Security - Crime
The weakening of government authority and rising unemployment, muggings and robberies are occurring with increasing frequency, not only in urban areas but in nature reserves and on beaches.

We advise against all but essential travel to Andohahela National Park and against all travel on road RN13 between Ambovombe and Ihosy. You should exercise extreme caution and follow local advice if travelling in the south east of the country. Since early May, armed groups (Dahalo) have increased illegal activity in the rural south east of the country Befotaka District (Atsimo-Atsinanana Region) resulting in numerous deaths. Whilst most incidents are limited to remote rural areas, some incidents have been close to the town of Fort Dauphin: Ifarantsa 20km away and Tsimilahy (nr Ambatoabo) 60km away.

You should be particularly cautious on beaches where there have been reports of attacks and robberies. You should avoid visiting them alone. Two French nationals were found murdered on Batterie beach in Tulear on 14 April 2012, which is considered to be a dangerous area. Nine suspects have been arrested and are awaiting trial for the incident.

Vehicle theft and theft from cars has become more frequent during recent months. Two foreign nationals were kidnapped when their vehicle was hijacked in Ambodivona on 7 May 2012 and one foreign businessman was kidnapped on 11 October 2012. They were all subsequently released.

There have also been increasing numbers of robberies from bush taxi passengers. On 13 June a criminal gang attacked three taxis travelling in convoy on the National Highway to the south of the capital and stole all of their possessions.

You should keep clear of any street disturbances. You should not leave your bags unattended, or go near unattended bags. You should keep large amounts of money, jewellery, cameras and cell phones out of sight when walking in town centres. Avoid walking in city centres after dark.

You should also take sensible precautions in crowded areas such as street markets and airports, where pick-pocketing is common.

Safeguard valuables, important documents and cash. Deposit them in hotel safes, where practical. Keep copies of important documents, including passports, in a separate place to the documents themselves.

12th October 2012 - there has been an incident in Andavadoaka, Madagascar. Blue Ventures staff are aware of the situation and our London office are working with staff in-country. If you have any concerns and wish to speak to a Blue Ventures staff member please call +44 (0)7909 525410 and speak to Richard Nimmo. 

7th August 2012, Belize:  Tropical Storm Ernesto is headed towards the north coast of Belize and due to hit the coast at around 2am local time, tomorrow morning.  As a safety procaution, volunteer are travelling to Orange Walk today to stay in a hurricane-proof hotel.  The Blue Ventures house in Sarteneja is hurricane-proof, however there are some concerns that volunteers may not make their international flights and so they have opted to make the 2 hour journey to Orange Walk.
The red dot indicates the location of Blue Ventures Belize

 

ernesto2

6th August 2012, Belize: Tropical Storm Ernesto has just passed the south coast of Jamaica and is due to pass our site in Belize early Wednesday morning.  The group are currently in the village of Sarteneja where we have hurricane bases.  If the storm looks like it is going to hit stronge than expected, everyone will be moved inland to Orange Walk.

The red dot below indicates Blue Ventures Belize base:

ernesto

 

 21st June 2012, Madagascar:  The FCO advice for Madagascar has been updated.  Please note however, Blue Ventures does not operate in th Southeast of Madagascar, but this is travel advice related to independent travel of volunteer before or after an expedition:

The FCO travel advice for Madagascar has been updated with an amendment to previous information given about reports of bus hijacks and attacks in the south east of Madagascar. Please find an extract of the advice below.

Travel Summary

Since early May, armed groups (Dahalo) have increased illegal activity in the south east of the country. British nationals are advised to exercise extreme caution whilst travelling in Atsimo-Atsinanana Region. See Safety and Security - Crime.

Safety and Security - Crime
The weakening of government authority and rising unemployment, muggings and robberies are occurring with increasing frequency, not only in urban areas but in nature reserves and on beaches.

Since early May, armed groups (Dahalo) have increased illegal activity in the south east of the country. On 11 and 12 June the group killed members of the local security forces in rural Befotaka District (Atsimo-Atsinanana Region). On 13 June a criminal gang attacked 3 taxis travelling in convoy on the National Highway to the south of the capital and stole all of their possessions. British nationals are advised to exercise extreme caution whilst travelling in the rural regions in the south east of the country (in particular the southern end of Atsimo-Atsinanana Region on the northern border of the Anosy Region).

You should be particularly cautious on those beaches where there have been reports of attacks and robberies. You should avoid visiting them alone. Two French nationals were found murdered on Batterie beach in Tulear on 14 April 2012, which is considered to be a dangerous area. Nine suspects have been arrested and are awaiting trial for the incident.

Vehicle theft and theft from cars has become more frequent during recent months. Two foreign nationals were kidnapped when their vehicle was hijacked in Ambodivona on 7 May 2012. They were subsequently released.

There have also been increasing numbers of robberies from bush taxi passengers. You should keep clear of any street disturbances. You should not leave your bags unattended, or go near unattended bags. You should keep large amounts of money, jewellery, cameras and cell phones out of sight when walking in town centres. Avoid walking in city centres after dark.

You should also take sensible precautions in crowded areas such as street markets and airports, where pick-pocketing is common.

Safeguard valuables, important documents and cash. Deposit them in hotel safes, where practical. Keep copies of important documents, including passports, in a separate place to the documents themselves.

3rd May 2012, Antananarivo, Madagascar:  

The FCO advice for Madagascar has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Travel Summary (bomb explosion in Analakely on 2 May 2012). The overall level of the advice has not changed; there are no travel restrictions in place for Madagascar.

Please see below an extract from the FCO.

“The situation in the centre of Antananarivo remains unstable and potentially volatile. Visitors should avoid any crowds or political gatherings which may occur. The Ambohijatovo, Lac Anosy, Antaninarenina and Analakely areas, as well as military barracks, are potential flash points and have been subject to such gatherings and outbreaks of violence. Most recently there were demonstrations in Ambohijatovo on 28 April 2012, and a bomb explosion in Analakely on 2 May 2012 (we are not aware of any injuries).”

To see the article in full, please click on the link below:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/madagascar

 14th February 2012, Andavadoaka, Madagascar:  There is a tropical storm currently passing through Madagascar.  Tropical Storm Giovanna has passed through the middle of he country and is not on track to hit Andavadoaka.  We are however, keeping a close eye on the situation and stayingin regualr conact with our team on site.

 

Giovanna

8th February 2012, Andavadoaka, Madagascar:  Please be aware that internet is currently down in Andavadoaka and so if you have sent or are expecting emails these may no have got through.  Mobile phone signal is still working (although intermittent as always!).

 

28th October 2011, Sarteneja, Belize:  Hurricane Rina is forcast to be heading south again, however it is quickly subsiding and looks like it will cause nothing but a bit of bad weather for the expedition group.

 

26th October 2011, Sarteneja, Belize:  THe whole team are now back in Sarteneja and getting on with some community projects and data entry.  They've not had great weather as you can imagine, but are all fine and looking forward to heading back to th dive camp to finish their surveying.

 

25th October 2011, Sarteneja, Belize:  The team are now heading back to Sarteneja now to stay in homestay accommodation.  We will all be keeping a close eye on weather updates and if it does look like the storm will hit Sarteneja all volunteers will be moved to the Blue Ventures house in Sarteneja which is hurricane-proof.

 

25th October 2011, Sarteneja, Belize:  Hurricane Rina is currently headed North off the coast of Honduras.  The team in Belize receive storm updates from the Belizean Fishing Authorities, who are stationed close to them out at Bacalar Chico Dive Camp and we are keeping a close eye on things from here in london.  The team are back in San Pedro today, so we are going to discuss things further with them.

Hurricane Path

Rina

 

22nd August 2011, Sarteneja, Belize:  Tropical Storm Harvey has passed through Belize without any disruption to our site and instead hit about 30 miles south of Belize City at a town called Dangriga. Our expedition manager reports that the weather seems to have settled over there already and they're departing for Bacalar Chico dive camp today. Our team in London and Belize are contunining to keep an eye on other tropical depressions/storms around the perimeter of the Carribean.

Tropical Storm Path

 

 

16th February 2011, Morondava, Madagascar: Tropical Storm Bingiza is currently travelling down the west coast of Madagascar and will hit land a few kilometres south of Morondava, very close to our second research site in Belo-sur-Mer and 230km north of our volunteer expedition research site in Andavadoaka.  The team in Belo are reporting that the weather is still clear and calm but have secured all of our equipment and accommodation and are preparing for the storm.  Details of Tropical Storm Bingiza can be found at;

Tropical Storm Risk

 

bingiza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15th February 2011, Mahajanga, Madagascar: Tropical Storm Bingiza has today passed Mahajanga in the north of Madagascar and is continuing to the west coast.  Over the next 72 hours it is expected to reach the Mozambique Channel and change direction, returning to the southwest coast at Morombe.  Blue Ventures' research site at Andavadoaka is 40km south of Morombe.  As a precaution the research site has been secured.  Volunteers are currently arriving into Toliara, 200km further south from Andavadoaka, and are not due to travel to site until Thursday 17th February.  This journey will be delayed until 18th or 19th in response to information given by ground staff in Andavadoaka.  Details of Tropical Storm Bingiza can be found at;

Tropical Storm Risk

trop_storm_risk_15feb

 

 

19th November 2010, Antananarivo, Madagascar: reports continue to shed light on the attempted coup instigated by Malagasy military leader,Col Charles Andrianasoavina, a key officer in the current administration's transfer to power in early 2009.  The attempt was made as the country prepared to take part in a long-awaited referendum essentially on the position of the country's self-appointed leader Andry Rajoelina.  There have been several protests in the city centre this week, although not on the scale seen in the capital throughout the first quarter of 2009.  Yesterday a demonstration was broken up with tear gas.  Residents in the Ivato area have been advised to move out of the area temporarily, however disruption to Ivato airport has been minimal, with a short period of road closure on Wednesday.  Please find below links to related news articles on this latest development;

BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11776570

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11795146

New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/19/world/africa/19madagascar.html

Global Voices (citizen journalism)

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/11/19/madagascar-coup-attempt-as-referendum-takes-place/

 

26th June 2010, Belize: a tropical storm warning has been issued for northern Belize and the expedition team are preparing to evacuate our site at first light in good time to avoid tropical storm Alex.  The team will initially evacuate to the Belize Fisheries Department base in northern Belize and will be taking telecom equipment with them.  Details of tropical storm Alex can be found at

Tropical Storm Risk

http://www.tropicalstormrisk.com/

 

20th May 2010, Madagascar: British Honorary Consul, Mr Richard Hyde has issued advice to all British nationals to avoid the Duchesne & Mausolee areas of the capital due to early reports of clashes between armed forces and protesters.  Blue Ventures staff members, based in the capital, Antananarivo, will monitor the situation and will update Blue Ventures' London office of any developments.  Blue Ventures' research site, Andavadoaka, is based in the very south west of the country, over 1000km by road from the capital.

 

15th December 2009, Fiji: the current expedition has been curtailed due to the destruction of infrastructure on Leleuvia Island by cyclone Mick and ongoing gale force wind warnings in SE Fiji. The restaurant facility has been destroyed, as has some accommodation. This is due for the safety of our volunteers and our inability to provide the normal facilities and services at our project site due to force majeur. We are doing all we can to provide assistance to volunteers in contacting their insurers and advise on alternative accommodation and transport options. We will have at least one staff member with the remainder of the group until each volunteer has successfully contacted their insurer. For any further information, please feel free to call Howard, our Expedition Manager, on: +679 733 7270, bearing in mind that Fiji is GMT +12hrs.

 

14th December 2009: To friends and family of Fiji volunteers. At 5am UK time on Sunday 13th December, our Expedition Manager in Fiji, Howard Foster, made the decision to evacuate all volunteers from Leleuvia island to the mainland after a cyclone warning was issued by the meteorological office. The group are all safe and sound and are currently (2.15am UK time on 14th December) staying together at the Raintree Lodge in Suva. Cyclone Mick is travelling S-SE through Fiji's main Island of Viti Levu from the Western Division and is expected to reach the vicinity of Suva at approximately 8am UK time on Monday 14th December. The predicted path then lies through the Lomaiviti group, where Leleuvia is situated. The volunteers will remain with our expedition staff until the cyclone has passed. At that time, the expedition manager will make a decision whether or not to return to the island for the final few days of the expedition.

For any further information, please feel free to call our expedition manager on: +679 733 7270, bearing in mind that Fiji is GMT +12hrs. Also, see www.fijitimes.com. for further cyclone updates. Blue Ventures staff in London are also being regularly updated and can be contacted on +44 (0)20 3176 0548.

 

23rd November 2009: Reports of a tropical storm travelling from the Seychelles affected the very north of Madagascar have been received.  The projection shows that this should pass over the very north of the country and head towards Mozambique.  Andavadoaka, which is in the south west of Madagascar and out of the range of the map shown below, is not expected to be directly affected.  For more information please check www.tropicalstormrisk.com.

trop_storm_091123

www.tropicalstormrisk.com

8th October 2009:

(0140 GMT+1) The Fiji team have contacted London to report that the warning has been cancelled and they have been given the 'all clear' to return to Leleuvia island.

(0130 GMT+1) The BBC have announced the tsunami warning has been cancelled for Fiji.

(0115 GMT+1) The Fiji team have received news from the warning centre in Hawaii that the tsunami is due to hit North West Fiji in the next 20-30 minutes.  If any impact is felt in the Lomai Viti group it will be down the eastern channel of the islands.  The team are at the highest point on Moturiki island and are waiting out the warning.  They expect to lose mobile/cell contact soon but have arranged radio contact from the village when they come back down.

(0030 GMT+1) A tsunami alert has been issued for Fiji in the wake of the earthquake experienced in Vanuatu a few hours ago. All the team are on higher ground on the neighbouring island of Moturiki and have been in contact with the London office to report that they are all safe and well.

BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/8296080.stm

 

30th September 2009: Some large waves, a secondary effect of the tsunami which hit Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga were experienced in the outer islands of Fiji in the early hours of 30th September (local time).  No damage was reported in the island group on which Blue Ventures are based and the group arrived safely on the island.  The Fijian governmental alert to citizens was downgraded at 10am local time.  Blue Ventures are monitoring the situation.  All volunteers and staff are being registered with their national diplomatic office in the South Pacific this morning (GMT).  Please find below links to local Fijian news and world news on the tsunami;

Fiji TV

http://www.fijitv.com.fj/index.cfm?si=main.resources&cmd=forumview&cbegin=0&uid=newsnational&cid=19070

BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/8281616.stm

 

25th September 2009: After the postponement of his speech the current President of Madagascar will address the UN Summit this afternoon (local time) in New York.  The ICG (International Contact Group) will be in Madagascar on 06 October 2009 for a high level meeting on the current political situation. Attendees will be ambassadors and key figures representing their respective countries and organizations.  The three opposition groups will hold a rally tomorrow at Mahamasina stadium, Antananarivo.  Advice to foreign nationals is to avoid this area of town.

 

24th September 2009: Please find below a short overview of travel advice issued by Anglophone governments, please follow links for more specific details.  Blue Ventures will continue to monitor the internal Foreign and Commonwealth information sharing site, which we have access to, and information issued by Mr Richard Hyde, Honorary Consul.

 

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office - no travel warning issued

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/madagascar

US Department of State - no travel warning issued

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_957.html

Canadian Foreign Affairs and International Trade - avoid non-essential travel

http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/report_rapport-eng.asp?id=168000

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - reconsider your need to travel

http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Madagascar

 

14th September 2009: A planned protest in the centre of capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo, on Saturday by supporters of the opposition coalition was eventually broken up by security forces.  There were no reported casualties, however tear gas was apparently used to move protesters away from the area.  Over the weekend former presidents Marc Ravolomanana, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy, who signed a key agreement to enter into a power-sharing government with current country leader Andry Rajoelina last month in Mozambique, publicly announced their joint opposition to the current government.  The African Union also condemned Rajoelina's plans to remain as the countries president and retain the post of prime minister for his party.  Travel advice from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not changed and Richard Hyde, British Honorary Consul still advises that UK nationals avoid attending any planned demonstrations in the country.

Please find below link to a short news article on the weekends events;

Reuters

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LD92009.htm

 

11th September 2009: There are today reports of small-scale demonstrations and street barricades in Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo.  Political negotiations for Madagascar's future have stalled over the past fortnight and look set to continue for some weeks.  Last month leaders of the political factions at the centre of the change of government earlier this year agreed, in principle, to form a joint military-civilian power-sharing government.  In this agreement, reached at a summit in Maputo, Mozambique, leaders of four factions, Marc Ravolomanana, Andry Rajoelina and former presidents Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy, would each nominate delegations for the power-sharing body.  However, the process stalled last week when ousted President Ravolomanana rejected Rajoelina's nominated delegations and his claims to retain both the Presidency and office of Prime Minister for his party.  The claims were also widely rejected by members of the African Union.

Today's activity has been witnessed in a small area of the capital, over 1000km from Blue Ventures' field site in the very South West of the country.  During the period of disturbance earlier this year Blue Ventures' site was not at all affected by events in the capital and staff members travelling around the country did not witness any problems.  British Honorary Consul to Madagascar, Mr Richard Hyde, advised that there was no need to be alarmed with today's events but to exercise reasonable caution when in central Antananarivo.  Blue Ventures are monitoring the situation closely and will consider registering volunteers with their national consulates  if the situation does not cease, as expected, over the next few days.

Please find below links for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (the travel advice is unchanged) and analysis on recent political negotiations in Maputo;

FCO

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/madagascar

Reuters

http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKLB542151

 

23 April 2009: The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has removed its travel advice against all but essential travel to Madagascar.  Please find below the advice to visitors to Madagascar published on their internal information page and a link to the main page for Madagascar.  Blue Ventures staff in both London and Fiji are also monitoring the political situation in Fiji, where the courts have ruled that the current government administration, which took power during the 2006 military coup d'etat, are in office illegally.  Recent discussion with UK diplomatic officials in Suva have confirmed that the risk of violence or major disruption to services is currently low but that they are closely following developments.  Blue Ventures are currently contacting all the relevant embassies and consulates with details of the group as a precaution.  Please find below links to recent news articles on the situation;

FCO statement on Madagascar;

The Foreign Office today downgraded its travel advice for Madagascar and no longer advises against all but essential travel. We have, however, retained a number of cautions:

We advise against travel to the centre of Antananarivo unless absolutely necessary, as it is still subject to continuing demonstrations and outbreaks of violence. Visitors should avoid any political rallies, demonstrations or large public gatherings, particularly around the Ambohijatovo, Lac Anosy and the Mahamasima areas.  We advise visitors to Madagascar to travel with established organisations or travel firms who have the capacity to monitor the local media and warn of possible trouble. If travelling independently we advise that visitors monitor the local media closely and keep abreast of the situation for the duration of their visit. Business travellers should take similar precautions.

We advise that travellers remain vigilant and maintain a low profile while moving around. You should remain alert to the possibility of acts of disorder by elements of the security forces and avoid any actions that might antagonise them, e.g. taking photographs.  We encourage all British citizens visiting Madagascar to register on LOCATE (http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/Locate/) so that our High Commission staff in Port Louis can provide assistance if needed.

This advice will continue to be reviewed on a daily basis and will change again if the situation permits it.

Link to FCO Madagascar page;

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/madagascar

Articles on Fiji;

BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7996581.stm

Voice of America article on Fiji

http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-04-21-voa20.cfm

BBC Country profile - Fiji

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/country_profiles/1300477.stm

 

17 March 2009: President Marc Ravalomanana remains in Lavoloha Palace.  Opposition military have blocked 2 convoys of bank notes in the grounds of Ambohitsirohitra Palace.

****unconfirmed reports that President Marc Ravalomanana has resigned and abdicated authority to Vice-Admiral Ramaroson Rarison Appolite - 1200 GMT****

BBC Report on resignation - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7948196.stm

Rajoelina and his immediate aides have occupied Ambohitsirohitra Palace.  Rumours that junior officers loyal to Rajoelina have arrested Vice-Admiral Ramaroson Rarison Appolite and 3 other senior officials are not yet confirmed.

 

Please find links to the news articles from this morning;

Voice of America

http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-03-16-voa65.cfm

BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7947381.stm

CNN

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/africa/03/17/madagascar/index.html?eref=rss_world

 

16 March 2009: The National Conference of 12th, apparently to be funded by the US government, was postponed.  Demonstrations by both factions ended peacefully on 12th.  President Ravalomanana met churches cooalition FFKM to prepare for the postponed National Conference on 13th as calls were made on national radio for supporters of the President to protect his Palace and other key buildings from opposition sypathisers within the military.  Some members of the military brought tanks into the city centre on Friday morning however these were not used in any capacity.  Saturday 14th saw Rajoelina issue a 4 hour deadline for the President and his Chief of Staff to leave office.  This deadline passed without action by the President who was reported to be in Lavoloha Palace, which was being protected by several thousand supporters.  Reports of the opposition 'Prime Minister' having successfully occupied the Prime Ministerial office seem to be confirmed when he gives a press conference from this office.  Yesterday calm had descended on the capital and and supporters continued to gather outside Presidential and other key governmental buildings.  The Constitutional Courts also heard a petition to impeach the President made by opposition party.  Today President Ravalomanana proposed a referendum on the question "Do you accept that the president of the Republic continue and finish its mandate until its term?", this proposal was quickly rejected by Andry Rajoelina but supported by representatives of the African Union meeting with the President today.  There is the possibility that the scheduled AU summit due to take place this year in Madagascar may be moved to an alternative venue.  Please find below links to news articles on the ongoing situation;

BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7943820.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7944606.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7944476.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7945681.stm

 

Voice of America

http://www.voanews.com/english/Africa/2009-03-16-voa3.cfm

http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-03-16-voa26.cfm

 

11 March 2009: Rallies for both Presidential and opposition supporters are planned for today, whilst opposition ministers have stated that they will not take part in the FFKM 'national conference' set to take place between 12-14th March.  A declaration has been made on Radio France Internationale that Andry Rajoelina is no longer at the French Embassy.  The US Ambassador, Niels Marquardt, has met Rajoelina this morning. urging his party to take part in the churches coalition national conference and echoing the hopes that this will put a halt to the violence seen in the last week.  This afternoon there have been reports of the resignation of army chief Edmond Rasolofomahandry and that Rajoelina has been sworn in to the position.  Please find below links to news articles on the efforts to bring about talks and late news on the army chief on the BBC website;

BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7936835.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7937264.stm

topMADA.com

http://www.topmada.com/2009/03/11/andry-rajoelina-boycotte-les-assises-et-met-lonu-et-la-france-dans-une-position-delicate/

 

10 March 2009: After some confusion last night the UN have denied earlier statements apparently made jointly by the cooalition of churches, FFKM, and UN envoy, Tiebile Drame, that opposition leader, Andry Rajoelina, is under the protection of the UN.  In an interview with the BBC spokesman for the UN, Yves Sorokobi, clarified the role of the UN in Madagascar at this time.  It is now apparent that Rajoelina is under the protection of the French Embassy.  Today supporters of both leaders organised rallies and shows of support at 13 May Square and Mahamasina Stadium.  The opposition rally at 13 May Square does not appear to have taken place and Presidential supporters were focused on dismantling unmanned opposition barriers, no violence has been reported at either of these sites.  There are unconfirmed reports that Presidential supporters are planning a sit-in at the French Embassy.   Minister of Defence, Vice-Amiral Mamy Ranaivoniarivo, has claimed on radio that he was forced to sign a letter of resignation by armed opposition supporters from within the military.  This afternoon President Ravalomanana was interviewed on a private radio station and appealed for order and calm to be restored.  He also apologised if the Malagasy people feel he has made any mistakes, stating he is 'only human'.  In a statement today the army chief of staff, General Edmond Rasolomahandry, has warned that, if no moves are made in the next 72 hours by the opposing leaders to resolve the current crisis, the military will assume responsibility for government administration.  Please find below links to news articles about the events of the last 24 hours;

BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7933226.stm

Le Point

http://www.lepoint.fr/actualites-monde/madagascar-rajoelina-refugie-a-la-residence-de-l-ambassadeur-de/924/0/324087

Reuters

http://uk.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUKTRE52943020090310

 

9 March 2009: The weekend has been volatile with reports of  opposition factions in the military and hostages being taken by a breakaway division at the, now barricaded barracks near Soanierana.  There are also reports that opposition leader, Rajoelina, has gone into hiding after attempts tp arrest him.  There was no Military presence at Place de 13 Mai this morning and an opposition rally was planned for 7am GMT.  There have been calls on the radio station, Radio Mada, for Presidential supporters to join together today at Mahamasina Stadium to find a way to calm the situation.  Please find below links to news reports on the events of the weekend:

BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7931293.stm

Voice of America

http://www.voanews.com/english/Africa/2009-03-09-voa1.cfm

http://www.voanews.com/english/Africa/2009-03-08-voa22.cfm

Press TV

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=87880&sectionid=351020506

 

6 March 2009: The general strike continued on 3rd March but this was not well observed and the Groupement des Entreprises de Madagascar, a business coalition, stated that their members would not be supporting the strike.  Demonstrations took place at Place de 13 Mai and were broken up with teargas.  Students at the Ambohipo campus of L’Université d’Antananarivo erected barricades and called for the release of a student arrested during demonstrations, threatening the kidnap of military family members if the demand was not met.  4th March saw further demonstrations at Place de 13 Mai where opposition leader Andry Rajoelina called for the dismissal of foreign chiefs of Air Madagascar and JIRAMA.  Numbers attending TGV demonstrations were reported to be down and, in a radio interview, President Ravalomanana warned that armed forces would take all reasonable measures to restore order and calm to the capital.  The main demonstration on 4th March was broken up with teargas and gunfire.  Yesterday armed forces were evident in high numbers in the capital, concentrated at Place de 13 Mai. Smaller groups were dispersed with teargas at Analakely, Antanimena and Ankazomanga.  Looting in the capital has continued with some shops being set alight.  Supporters of Andry Rajoelina are blockading his house in response to rumours that he will be arrested today.

 

2 March 2009: Demonstrations in Antananarivo on Thursday were broken up with teargas.  There were also reports of skirmishes with security forces which have been put in place in Toliara and a death in an incident in the southern town of Fiananrantsoa.  On Friday UN chief Ban Ki-moon assured that a mediator has been appointed, after UN envoy Haile Menkerios announced that both leaders had agreed to resume talks.  Although not yet publicly named, the appointee will arrive in the country soon.  However, on Saturday the government declared the area around Place 13 May, the focus of many of the opposition demonstrations, a 'zone rouge', essentially a no-go area and demonstrators were reported to be on the streets in response to a call by opposition leaders.  Today Andry Rajoelina is meeting with civil society representatives.  The meeting is to discuss the civil society organisations' 4 point agenda to establish security and end violence and demonstrations, restore normal governmental administrative functions, establish support for poor families affected by the troubles and establish a respect for 'good and clear' government.  President Ravalomanana is supporting the meeting, although is not involved directly in these talks yet, and is urging that the various civil society organisations do not become partisan.  Rajoelina has today also called for a rally at 13 May Square and requested support from the private business community in Madgascar.  The former Mayor has also declared today a national strike although activity on the streets of the capital suggests that this has been largely ignored.  Please see below news articles relating to the latest progress of the situation;

Focus Information Agency

http://www.focus-fen.net/index.php?id=n172409

BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7915000.stm

Reuters

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LS334035.htm

26 February 2009: Yesterday's talks were not attended by the President, who was visiting Toamasina and Mahajanga.  Instead he sent representatives and an assurance of his attendance at the next meeting.  After his calls for a suspension to the talks the day before, Rajoelina declared late yesterday afternoon that he would no longer meet with President Ravalomanana.  President of the FFKM and facilitator of the talks, Monsignor Odon Razanakolona, also withdrew from the talks, calling for the UN to become involved once again.  Despite agreements that no further demonstrations would be conducted there is an opposition rally planned outside the Municipality's office at Mahamasina today. A road block has been set up by opposition demonstrators on the RN1 south to Ansirabe. Please find news article on the breakdown of talks below;

International Herald Tribune

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2009/02/25/africa/AF-Madagascar.php

 

25 February 2009: The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office last night lowered their travel warning for Madagascar, now advising against all but essential travel.  Blue Ventures new Fiji project was featured on Fijian national television this week.  A crew from the 1 National News programme filmed the group when they visited the chiefly island of Bau to seek traditional approval for the research being conducted by volunteers.

 

24 February 2009: Considerable progress has been made over the weekend and talks between Rajoelina and Ravalomanana, mediated by the churches coalition FFKM,  have begun in earnest.  At their initial meeting on Saturday the leaders agreed to 5 conditions pledging to end politically motivated vandalism, violence, demonstrations, political arrests and incitement to violence.  A second meeting was held yesterday for 1 hour.  Yesterday the curfew in the capital was extended for another 10 days, however the time period was reduced and will now start at 10pm.  The Honorary British Consul is advising that foreign nationals can resume normal activities, but should continue to respect the curfew.  Please find below news articles on the start of the talks;

BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7903425.stm

allAfrica.com

http://allafrica.com/stories/200902231480.html

IRIN

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=83099

 

19 February 2009: Yesterday saw another sit-in demonstration centred around government buildings at Anosy in Antananarivo.  These buildings were once again protected by government security forces and no protesters were able to gain entry.  The sit-in finished relatively peacefully although there have been some unconfirmed reports that teargas was used to disperse the crowd.  There were also demonstrations in Fianarantsoa which were also dispersed with teargas.  Today President Ravalomanana received a party of FFKM (churches coalition) representatives and thanked them for the role they had so far played in mediation.  Two opposition marches were organised this morning and met at government buildings at Anosy.  Again entry to government buildings was blocked by security forces.  There have been unconfirmed reports that during this demonstration a delegation of senior opposition representatives were received into the Ministry of Interior Affairs.  There have been peaceful demonstrations in the town of Toamasina today.  Since the escalated travel warnings of many European governments, international flights have continued running.

 

17 February 2009: Opposition demonstrations yesterday ending in confusion and with crowds being dispersed by tear gas and shots fired into the the air by government troops.  The demonstration started at 13 May Square, however crowds ignored opposition leaders' requests that only the leaders and newly appointed 'transitional government ministers' move on to government buildings and a procession of protesters are lead for around 1km.  Attempts by protesters to occupy government buildings were blocked and the crowd eventually dispersed.  Please find below news articles on the events;

AFP

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hMTHvH3HsykS8L5d32MQtmmeLEqA

topMada.com

http://www.topmada.com/2009/02/16/echec-de-la-prise-des-ministeres-la-manifestation-pro-tgv-degenere/

 

16 February 2009: Demonstrations for both the opposition and the President held in the capital over the weekend passed off with only minor incidents being reported.  Andry Rajoelina has today called for a demonstration and 'sit-in' at 13 May Square until his newly named transitional ministers are installed.  The Presidential supporters will hold a rally at Mahamasina Stadium. The British Consul has advised that it is safe to travel around the capital, however, foreign nationals should avoid the areas where political protests are being held.  Please find below news articles on the weekend's events and todays planned activity;

le Courrier International

http://www.courrierinternational.com/article.asp?obj_id=94626

TopMada.com

http://www.topmada.com/2009/02/15/les-2-camps-manifestent-journee-a-risque-lundi/

IRIN

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=82922

 

12 February 2009: There is little news on the level of participation in the general strike and transport strike of the past 2 days.  The 'counter demonstrations' held yesterday in support of President Ravalomanana at the Mamahasina Sports Arena, Antananarivo, attracted in the region of 40,000 participants.  Opposition leader Andry Rajoelina and his 'prime minister' continued to appoint 'ministers' to his transitional government yesterday.  Talks have now begun between the opposing sides, brokered by the US government, the UN and other diplomatic channels.  The Foreign and Commonwealth offices have stated on their internal website that travel advice will be reviewed should these talks continue.  An opposition rally was scheduled to take place this afternoon at 13 May Square.

BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7884179.stm

Reuters

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/66a95986a7638259166f0e66f0891f23.htm

Voice of America

http://www.voanews.com/english/Africa/2009-02-12-voa7.cfm

 

10 February 2009: The vigil, held yesterday in Antananarivo, was conducted peacefully and there have been no reports of violence since Saturday although the mood in the capital remains tense.  Opposition leader Andry Rajoelina has called for a general strike today and there are plans for a transport strike tomorrow.  The Honorary British Consul is calling for caution by foreign nationals but is no longer advising that foreigners should stay indoors.  Yesterday UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Haile Menkerios, held talks with key players in the crisis.

Reuters pictures on vigil and review of weekend

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/pictures/AFR15.htm

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/541eeeeac811e23631d2e6d824c96fbf.htm

BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7859093.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7878439.stm

 

9 February 2009: The capital remains calm but tense today.  Andry Rajoelina has called a vigil for the dead this afternoon and a small procession is heading to 13 May Square with some of the coffins of the deceased.  Madagascar's Defence Minister, Cecile Manorohanta, has resigned after the events of the weekend.  The airport remains open however some international flights have been affected by the weekends events.  Tropical storm Gael has headed away from Madagascar.  Please find below links to news articles on the current situation;

Reuters events after Saturday and Cecile Manorohanta

http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE5170C820090208

http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL9260933

BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7878441.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7877918.stm

le Courrier International

http://www.courrierinternational.com/article.asp?obj_id=94382

 

7 February 2009: Planned demonstrations in the the capital have gone ahead today and opposition leaders gathered outside the Presidential Palace.  Despite a peaceful start to the rally violent clashes have been reported throughout the day.  Unconfirmed reports set the death toll at 25.  In an FCO update at 1640 GMT the mood in the city was described as tense but calm.  No violence has been reported in Tulear (Toliara) and the team called from Andavadoaka at 1630 GMT to confirm all is well at site.  Please find below links to new articles on the days events;

Topmada.com

http://www.topmada.com/2009/02/08/fil-des-evenements-du-samedi-7-fevrier/

BBC News

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7876543.stm

Reuters

http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE51614920090207

Reuter: Key Facts on Madagascar

http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE5161B220090207

Voice of America

http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-02-07-voa24.cfm

 

6 February 2009: Demonstrations planned to take place in the capital yesterday did not go ahead and the situation is still calm.  The curfew has been relaxed in the town of Toamasina from 8pm to 10pm.  Opposition leader, Andry Rajoelina, has announced that a popular anti-government singer will be performing at his main rally tomorrow.  It is rumoured he will announce his 'cabinet' after declaring last week he would run a transition government from tomorrow.  Meanwhile President Marc Ravalomanana is touring coastal towns before welcoming Haile Menkerios, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs to Madagascar.  Peaceful demonstrations have been reported in the South West city of Tulear (Toliara).

A tropical cyclone warning has been issued for cyclone Gael, which is approaching Madagascar from the east.  It is currently thought that the eye of the storm will not pass over land, however, the effects will be felt in North East Madagascar.  This predicted bad weather may disrupt the rally on Saturday.  Please see tropical storm information and news links on UN visit to Madagascar below;

Tropical storm information

http://www.tropicalstormrisk.com/

allAfrica.com article

http://allafrica.com/stories/200902050881.html

 

5 February 2009: Despite another opposition rally in the capital yesterday all has remained calm and there is the possibility of the curfew hours being reduced.  The rally, called by the removed Mayor Andry Rajoelina, was reported to attract hundreds rather than the thousands that had attended similar events last week.  Demonstrations are also planned for today at the Municiple Stadium and Botanic Gardens. Kenyan Airways have now confirmed that they will no longer be suspending flights to and from Madagascar but have indicated they may refund or move flights at no extra cost, please check with your travel agent.  Please see news item link below;

Reuters Article

http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL4752953

 

3 February 2009: All has remained calm in the capital today and banks, schools, businesses and government offices have reopened.  Reports today have centred around a meeting called by Mayor Rajoelina this afternoon and the later removal of Rajoelina from his post.  In a meeting this afternoon Mayor Rajoelina indicated that he would take power of Madagascar this weekend.  The response by the central government has been to remove Rajoelina from his position as Mayor of Antananarivo.  The African Union continue to oppose Rajoelina's actions as unlawful under their coup d'etat rules.  Kenyan Airways have also suspended flights to and from Madagascar, a statement on their website regarding flight reallocations and refunds is imminent.  If your loved one has booked a Kenyan Airways flight through Wexas Travel you can contact Alex Crosby at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on +44 207 589 3315 for more information.  Please see Kenyan Airways web site address and news items links below;

Kenyan Airways;

www.kenya-airways.com

Reuters Article on Mayor Rajoelina's declaration

http://in.reuters.com/article/rbssIndustryMaterialsUtilitiesNews/idINL34457520090203

BBC and Voice of America articles on sacking of Mayor of Tana

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7867512.stm

http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-02-03-voa29.cfm

 

2 February 2009: In an update issued at 1340 GMT by the Honorary British Consul, further planned demonstrations in Antananarivo and some outlying provinces have passed peacefully or did not go ahead at all.  These have not been as well attended as other recent demonstrations.

 

31 January 2009: Planned demonstrations on the streets of Antananarivo this morning have ended peacefully and, in an update issued at 1315 GMT, the Honorary British Consul has advised that it is safe for EU citizens to engage in their usual activities in the capital.

 

30 January 2009: The last 24 hours have seen the situation calm considerably in the capital.  The curfew remains in place and members of the public who did not join the opposition 'ville morte' ('ghost town' or general strike called in protest) were not prevented from attending work.  Following a meeting with leaders of the Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran and Anglican churches yesterday President Marc Ravalomanana agreed to entering talks with opposition leader Mayor Andry Rajoelina.  National television and radio stations on both sides of the political divide have resumed broadcasting.

Blue Ventures have been given access to the UK governments Foreign and Commonwealth information sharing site, used by FCO staff and associated organisations for up to date information and will continue to monitor the situation.  A briefing has been sent through to the group in Andavadoaka and the staff will call the London office daily to share information.  Purely as a precautionary measure details of all International staff and volunteers have been forwarded to their respective nations' embassies and consulates in Madagascar and Mauritius.  A Malagasy member of the Blue Ventures staff has been able to fly to Paris from the Antananarivo (as planned for a number of months) without incident.  Please find below a link to a Voice of America article on the Ville Morte;

http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-01-29-voa35.cfm?rss=africa

 

29 January 2009: Blue Ventures are continuing to closely monitor the political situation in Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo and following advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the UK. The latest information from the FCO to Blue Ventures at 1215 GMT is that banks and offices have re-opened in the capital, no international flights have been cancelled and there are no recommendations to evacuate.  Please be advised that Blue Ventures' site, Andavadaoka, is 1000km from the capital.  Please see the links below for further new reports from the region;

le Courrier International

http://www.courrierinternational.com/gabarits/html/default_online.asp

Reuters

 

TopMada.com

http://www.topmada.com/

Malagasy aho

http://malagasyaho.blogspot.com/
 

Communiqués des malgaches aux Etats Unis

http://www.sobika.com/madagascar-informations/news_1114.php

 

26 January 2009: there are reports of isolated clashes between supporters of opposition leader Andry Rajoelina and state police during a protest which had been banned by the government in Madagascar's capital Antananarivo.  These clashes are localised to the area around the national television station in Antananarivo and no violence has been reported elsewhere in the city or the country.  Blue Ventures founder and Director of Research Alasdair Harris, who is based in the capital, has been monitoring the situation.  Blue Ventures' field site is based in the southwest of the country approximately 1,000km from the capital. We recommend you keep up-to-date with news on the Foreign & Commonwealth website: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/madagascar

 

23 January 2009: recent tropical cyclones, FANELE and ERIC struck Madagascar over the last couple of days. FANELE hit Madagascar from the southwest, coming in via the Mozambique Channel. FANELE made landfall at Morondava, 200km north of our research site. Both cyclones have now passed. All our volunteers and staff on site are doing well - safety procedures were all in place, but the site only experienced moderately increased wind and rain, feeling little effect of the cyclone, and expect to have only missed one day of diving from increased underwater turbidity. We recommend that all friends and family subscribe to the weather tracker at www.tropicalstormrisk.com.

  • To send an email to a staff member or a volunteer in Andavadoaka, please visit our messaging page, the usual web email services are accessible to volunteers in Leleuvia and Tioman.

  • To receive emails from Andavadoaka, please make sure that you add {email}@blueventures.org to your Safe Senders List to make sure that any replies you receive don't go into your junk email
  • To stay up-to-date with what's going on at our site, please subscribe to our blog, online at http://blog.blueventures.org

  • See a satellite image of our site at Andavadoaka via Google Maps. The volunteer huts and Halfmoon Beach are at the top of the image (north); staff huts face west; Coco Beach (the restaurant) is the round, red building at the bottom. If you scroll further north along the coast, you will come to Andavadoaka village. If you go west from our site, you will come to the islands of Nosy Hao and Nosy Fasy, around which a lot of our dive training and science monitoring takes place. Please note these images aren't real time!

  • To contact the London office, please ring +44 (0)20 7697 8598

 

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Emergency contact details

In case of an emergency only, you can contact our field site in Andavadoaka or Sarteneja via the UK team by ringing:

  • +44 (0)7909 525 410
  • +44 (0)7810 375 319

 

A message will be relayed to the camp via satellite telephone.

 

Blue Ventures