•State Department categorises 35 countries where Americans are most likely to be kidnapped Jude Johnson and Laura Begley Bloom The US State Department has released a list of 35 countries with the highest risk for kidnapping including Nigeria. Nigeria was listed in the second to the worst categories, where Americans citizens and allies were advised…
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•State Department categorises 35 countries where Americans are most likely to be kidnapped
Jude Johnson and Laura Begley Bloom
The US State Department has released a list of 35 countries with the highest risk for kidnapping including Nigeria.
Nigeria was listed in the second to the worst categories, where Americans citizens and allies were advised to “Exercise increased caution” from travelling to.
Earlier this month, California resident Kimberly Sue Endicott traveled to Uganda on a bucket-list trip to see gorillas in their natural habitat. But her dream vacation soon turned into a nightmare when she and her safari guide were kidnapped on April 2.
Their captors demanded a $500,000 ransom, and the world watched and waited in horror. Five days later, Endicott and her guide were released, unharmed. Not only did the terrifying incident make women everywhere ponder the dangers of traveling solo to risky destinations, Endicott’s kidnapping also prompted the U.S. State Department to take action in an attempt to help warn travelers of the dangers of going to some countries.
American tourist Kimberly Sue Endicott was kidnapped while traveling to Uganda to view gorillas.
The State Department already issues travel advisories for every country around the world, with advice on crime, terrorism, civil unrest, natural disasters, health and other potential dangers. In the wake of Endicott’s kidnapping, the State Department announcedthat it was adding a new indicator to show which countries have the highest risk of kidnapping. Now, countries with a risk of kidnapping will have a letter ”K” indicator on their travel advisory. The goal, according to the State Department? “To communicate more clearly to U.S. citizens the risks of kidnapping and hostage taking by criminal and terrorist actors around the world.”
In total, 35 countries were called out for having a risk of kidnapping. From the list, 14 places are considered to be at the highest level of danger overall (level 4) and are designated “do not travel” zones. Surprisingly, some countries said to have a high rate of kidnapping — like Mexico — are only classified level one or two overall. The levels are as follows:
Exercise normal precautions
Exercise increased caution
Do not travel
A 2014 file photo of a memorial for 43 students who disappeared from Iguala, Guerrero in Mexico, which is on the list for having a high risk of kidnapping.
According to the State Department, the Bureau of Consular Affairs “works closely with the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs and the entire U.S. interagency to serve and protect Americans overseas and to prevent and resolve cases of kidnapping and hostage taking.” However, in the most dangerous, level-4 places, the State Department warns of its ability to help Americans in distress. “In many high-risk areas, we cannot help you. This may be because of a lack of a functioning government, the ineffectiveness or policies of local authorities, armed conflict, or poor governance.”
Here’s the list of 35 countries where you’re most likely to get kidnapped, according to the State Department. They are grouped by their overall level of danger.
A 2016 file photo of Judith D’Souza, an Indian charity worker who was kidnapped in Kabul. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
LEVEL 4: Most Dangerous, Do Not Travel
Afghanistan Central African Republic Haiti Iran Iraq Libya Mali Somalia South Sudan Syria Venezuela Yemen
In this 2012 file photo, a vehicle carries villagers back to Bermo, roughly 25km from Dakoro in central Niger. Six aid group employees were abducted from the guesthouse where they were sleeping in Dakoro. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)
LEVEL 3: Reconsider Travel
Burkina Faso Democratic Republic of the Congo Lebanon Niger Nigeria Pakistan Sudan Turkey
In this photo, Maria Gonzalez, weeps next to a portrait of her son Cesar, a 33-year-old architect and engineer, who was kidnapped as he drove through Cuernavaca to visit his family in Yautepec. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
LEVEL 2: Exercise increased caution
Algeria Bangladesh Cameroon Colombia Ethiopia Kenya Mexico Papua New Guinea Philippines Russia Trinidad and Tobago Uganda Ukraine
In this 2014 file photo, a Malaysian armed policeman stands guard at Singmata Adventures and Reef resort, where suspected Filipino insurgents kidnapped a Chinese tourist and a hotel receptionist. (AP Photo)
Tanwa Ashiru is the founder of Bulwark Intelligence and is a U.S Air Force veteran with over 12 years of experience in All-Source Intelligence and counter improvised explosive device (CIED) Analysis. She has a Masters of Arts in Intelligence Analysis with American Military University and has been involved in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in support of Multi-National Forces in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa.