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Top ten kidnap for ransom countries named ‎
International Adviser
Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Red24, the AIM-listed international security advice and management company, has named the world’s ten countries in which it says the threat of being kidnapped for ransom is the greatest.

Conflict-ravaged Afghanistan tops the list, with around 950 kidnappings for ransom being recorded per year, according to Red24’s latest data, even though travel restrictions are in place for foreigners.

Few of the other countries on the list are any more surprising. No. 2, for example, is Somalia, where the action is concentrated offshore, with some 24 vessels having been seized from its waters in 2011, from which more than 400 hostages were taken, of whom 265 are still held captive, Red24 reports.

Iraq sits in third place, even though no official figures for last year are available. Red24 says, however, that its anecdotal evidence “suggests the [kidnap for ransom risks there] remain high”.

It adds: “The country provides a complex kidnapping risk environment, with criminal, terrorist and politically- motivated parties all carrying out kidnappings.”

Data difficult to come by

As reported here in February, experts note that data on kidnappings are difficult to compile, for reasons that include differing incident classifications between countries and the reluctance of relatives to report incidents, for fear of retaliation by the kidnappers or because of concerns about police corruption and ineptitude.

However, Red24 reports that what official data is available – covering Nigeria, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia as well as piracy incidents off the Somali  coast and non-governmental organisation-staff  kidnappings in Afghanistan – reveals that there was a 9% increase in kidnapping incidents in 2011, compared to 2010. And red24 chief executive Maldwyn Worsley-Tonks says the figures show how kidnap for ransom has become “a growing, global threat”.

“The crime, which was once synonymous with Colombia and the wider Latin America region, has spread to more locations across the world, making it a risk that both businesses sending employees abroad and individual travellers cannot afford to ignore,” he adds.

“Companies and individuals operating and travelling in these regions need to be fully aware of the risks and ensure they take the necessary security precautions. They also need to have an emergency response programme in place in case they should fall victim to this fast-growing crime.”

Below, in declining order, are the remaining seven top kidnap hot-spots, according to the Red24 data:

4. Nigeria: The country records "well in excess of 1,000 kidnappings for ransom a year"

5. Pakistan: Official statistics reveal that more than 15,000 kidnappings a year take place here, "and the true number is likely to be higher due to underreporting", Red24 says. It adds that "only 10 to 20% of abductions are for ransom"

6. Yemen: Has seen more than 200 foreign nationals  kidnapped over the past 20 years

7. Venezuela: Official statistics show that more than 1,000 kidnappings for ransom took place here in the first ten months of 2011, contributing, Red25 says, to "one of the highest per capita rates of abduction in the world"

8. Mexico: Official statistics for 2011 are likely to reveal more than 2,000 kidnappings for ransom, Red24 says, but it notes that the actual number "is far higher", and a Mexican NGO, Consejo para la Ley y los Derechos Humanos, has reported that its own statistics point to some 17,889 kidnappings

9. Haiti: Incident numbers are now "in the low hundreds", which according to Red24, "is a significant decline on 2006, when some 720 incidents were recorded". However, it adds, "a significant threat persists, and per capita abduction rates are second only to Venezuela"

10. Colombia: "Despite a significant reduction in incidents over the past ten years, incident numbers in recent years are still high, with 258 kidnappings recorded by the authorities in 2011"


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