35 Countries Where Americans Are Most Likely to Get Kidnapped
By Laura Begley Bloom
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.
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 announced that 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
- Reconsider travel
- Do not travel
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.
LEVEL 4: Most Dangerous, Do Not Travel
Central African Republic
LEVEL 3: Reconsider Travel
Democratic Republic of the Congo
LEVEL 2: Exercise increased caution
Papua New Guinea
Trinidad and Tobago
LEVEL 1: Exercise normal precautions
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