Earlier in April, California resident Kimberly Sue Endicott traveled to Uganda on a bucket-list trip to see gorillas in their natural habitat. This traveler’s dream vacation soon turned into a nightmare. She and her safari guide were kidnapped on April 2, and their captors demanded a $500,000 ransom. For five days, the world watched and waited in horror. At last, Endicott and her guide were released, unharmed. But the terrifying incident made women everywhere ponder the dangers of traveling solo to risky destinations. The kidnapping also prompted the U.S. State Department to take action in an attempt to help warn travelers of the threat of going to some countries.
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 the kidnapping, the State Department announced that it was adding a new indicator to show which countries have the highest risk of kidnapping. Now, any country with a risk of kidnapping will have the letter “K” on its 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 have been called out for having a risk of kidnapping. From the list, 14 places are considered by the U.S. State Department to be at Level 4, the highest level of overall danger, indicating that the country is a “do not travel” zone. Level 3 suggests that travelers should “reconsider travel.” Level 2 means “exercise increased caution.” Level 1 means “exercise normal precautions.” Surprisingly, some countries said to have a risk of kidnapping — like Uganda and Mexico — are only classified as a Level 1 or 2 overall.
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 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 U.S. State Department. They are grouped by their overall level of danger and listed alphabetically.
This Advisory is updated regularly. Maybe by the time you check this out the list might have been updated as conditions change in each country. Make sure to check HERE on their travel advisory website before making any travel plans
LEVEL 4: Most Dangerous, Do Not Travel
- Central African Republic
- South Sudan
LEVEL 3: Reconsider Travel
- Burkina Faso
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
LEVEL 2: Exercise increased caution
- Papua New Guinea
- Trinidad and Tobago
LEVEL 1: Exercise normal precautions
Original Source: Forbes magazine