Kidnap and piracy map highlights global trouble spots

Jolly Roger

The world is a more dangerous place for the travelling business executive than it was 12 months ago, reports NYA International.

The global risk and crisis management consultancy has released its 2016 Kidnap and Piracy Map, accompanied by the ‘Global Kidnap Review’, a special report examining kidnap for ransom over 2015 and likely themes in 2016, to guide organisations on threats to their people and operations worldwide.

NYA reports that intensified civil conflicts in Africa, entrenched criminality in Latin America and the advance of Islamist militancy in spaces worldwide have pushed the number of “severe” kidnap ratings to 11 countries, from eight in 2015.

A further 11 countries, including India, Egypt, Lebanon, Cameroon and Kenya moved from “medium” to “high” – the latter four all facing significant threats from Islamist militancy. In 2016, global economic uncertainty and low oil prices threatens to exacerbate the kidnapping threat in countries such as Mexico, Nigeria, Venezuela and Libya, where threats are already high to severe.

One positive note is that peace talks in Colombia, once the world’s leading kidnap hotspot, showed mediation and concession can reduce threats, albeit over time.

Severe threat ratings for piracy remain in place for off Somalia, Nigeria, Singapore and Malaysia. While there have been no hijackings of large commercial vessels off Somalia since 2012, attacks, sightings and hijackings of smaller vessels in 2015 indicate the threat remains severe.

Extremely violent hijackings, crew kidnappings and a return to militancy in the Delta sees Nigeria retain its severe threat rating. Criminal boardings off Singapore and Malaysia remain constant, and periodic hijackings for cargo theft contribute to its severe rating

“We advise organisations to be fully informed about the threats, put appropriate mitigation measures in place, provide security training for their staff, and ensure that the organisation is prepared to response to incidents of this nature, if they occur,” says Alex Kemp, managing director of NYA.

“Good security risk and crisis management helps protect human lives, and safeguard the organisation’s operations and reputation.”

Kidnap and piracy leagues

Among the key findings from the 2016 report on kidnap for ransom:
• 11 countries face a severe kidnapping threat: Afghanistan, Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
• Egypt, Cameroon, Lebanon and Kenya were four of 11 countries to move from medium to high threat. Each faces domestic or neighbouring Islamist militancy.
• The Philippines is Southeast Asia’s top kidnapping hotspot, where Abu Sayyaf and the New People’s Army continue to pose a significant kidnap threat alongside criminal gangs.
• Colombia gives cause for optimism, as continuing peace talks with the revolutionary armed forces (FARC) demonstrate mediation can alleviate once severe kidnap threat.
• Although foreign nationals bear a disproportionate threat burden, domestic nationals are more likely to be kidnapped, with nine in 10 victims in 2015 kidnapped in their home country.
• Asia accounted for 40% of kidnap incidents, Africa 34%, the Americas 14%, the Middle East 10%. Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) accounted for 2%.

Among recent developments in piracy:

• Nigeria’s southern coast, from Ondo State to the Cameroon border is classified as a severe threat area due to frequent hijacking and attacks, characterised by crew kidnapping and often lethal violence.
• The area off Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden and Bab el Mandeb is classified severe. Although no large commercial vessels have been hijacked in recent years off Somalia, periodic incidents and sightings indicate a severe threat remains.
• Bangladesh and Venezuela have high threat areas in their waters due to repeated hijackings and attacks against typically smaller vessels.
• There is a severe threat in the Malacca Straits, off Singapore and in the waters of the South China Sea south of Brunei, reflecting high frequencies of hijack, extended duration cargo theft and criminal boarding.

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