Travel Risk Management: The Kidnappings Risk

The need for strategies to Travel Risk Management is becoming increasingly evident in a globalized environment in which companies operate in areas at risk (MENA, Africa, Asia) and have to send workers and employees on site for shorter or longer periods. Knowledge of the territory, crime and gangs operating in a specific area, known trusted contacts and evacuation strategies become vital for companies that have business in areas such as Libya, Nigeria, Congo, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, etc…

In Libya yesterday would have disappeared two construction workers of an Italian company, engaged in the region of Cyrenaica, the area known as extremely risky given the strong presence of insurgents who would like the independence of the region and beyond. A multitude of rival gangs creates chaos in the region, the richest in a country that has not yet succeeded to find some sort of stability after the fall of Gaddafi.

According to preliminary information the two workers were in the country for about five months to carry out the work on behalf of a company that deals with large public works. After leaving on board their van to carry out their work, the two workers are no longer returned to the yard and their van was found abandoned in an area isolated from some colleagues.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed that since yesterday “are untraceable” two Italian construction workers working in Libya. “The unit ‘of crisis, according to the embassy in Tripoli is exploring every possibility.”

There are many Italian and European companies that have chosen to operate in Libya thanks to the cooperation policies that have been promoted by the European Union in this direction to contribute to economic growth and a political and social stability of the country. However, it is important not to ignore the warnings and alerts for high-risk area that is now in fact Cyrenaica (as unfortunately array of other).

In November last year it was released a 64 years old engineer employed by a French company in the renewable energy sector that was working in Nigeria and had been kidnapped by a commando of 30 men affiliated with the Islamic extremist Boko Haram in the city of Rimi, in the north of the country on December 20, 2012. And many other examples could be.

Although it is always very difficult to create statistics on abductions to the limited information available, a 2011 study relating to the Travel Risk Management, revealed that the country with the most kidnappings is Mexico, with about 2,000 kidnappings for extortion, followed by Pakistan 15,000 total kidnappings in a year, of which only 15% for extortion, Venezuela with more than 1,000 kidnappings, Afghanistan with about 950. Do not miss Nigeria with a similar number, Haiti, Colombia, Somalia (which of course suffers from the problem of maritime piracy), and Yemen.

Some rules of conduct to be adopted to mitigate the risks while traveling

It certainly is not easy to avoid this type of risk in certain areas. It is very important therefore to rely on companies that offer this type of support, usually under the terms of the Travel Risk Management, both informative (Geopolitical Intelligence Services) and in practice on site (Evacuation Strategy, Security Services, etc.)

Some behaviour would always recommend when you travel to high risk areas:

• Locate the police stations, embassies, hospitals and the nearest airports.

• Avoid sensitive areas and keep a low profile.

• Do not divulge information about their intentions or personal data.

• Always have the cash in the event of having to move quickly by public transport or another, passport, visa and number of your embassy.

• Consult the local media for the latest information.

• If you do not feel safe leaving the place where there is no running quickly but not to attract attention and bring in a safe place and avoid poorly lit or deserted areas.

However, if you were to fall victim of a kidnapping is very important to adopt certain behaviors:

• First of all, stay calm, especially if the assailant is armed. Do not try to be heroes.

• Remember that in kidnappings for ransom generally the victim is released uninjured once they got the ransom.

• In a discreet way, try to store as much information as possible. How many are the aggressor, that they look like and what language they speak, details about the car they use, and their state of mind could prove vital information.

• Always be positive and patient. Avoid aggressive behaviour against the kidnappers.

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