World Risk by Region 2017-02-06T12:04:22+00:00

Regional Kidnapping, Extortion, and Marine Piracy Risks.

Using our proprietary algorithms and intelligence analysis, Hazelwood Street Consultants, LLC classifies world risk by country and region, scoring them 1-5 (please see table for clarification) according to their risk level. Above is our “heat map” which has been color coded according to our scores for each country. 

Our map is one of the many useful tools available to our clients and is regularly updated as the level of risk in many regions is constantly changing. We encourage all of our web visitors to come back and reference our map regularly in order to have an up-to-date look at global risk.

Subscribers with access to our Daily Intelligence Reports receive in-depth analysis covering  worldwide risk through the purview of Kidnap for Ransom, Extortion, Marine Piracy, and more. Having access to robust, comprehensive analysis and information is an invaluable asset in maintaining awareness and using caution when traveling, specifically to “Level 4 and 5” countries. 

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Color Risk Level
GREEN Level 1 – Safe Overall
BLUE Level 2
YELLOW Level 3 – Increasing Risk
ORANGE Level 4
RED Level 5 – High Risk

Below is the breakdown of countries on our “heat map” by region. We have included brief summaries on the higher leveled countries in order to provide further insight as to the risks affecting them. For more detailed analysis of global risk, please subscribe to our Intelligence Publications.

Level 1 = Lowest Risk, Level 5 = Highest Risk

Eastern Africa

Burundi Level 1

Comoros Level 1

Djibouti Level 1

Eritrea – Level 1

Ethiopia – Level 3

Ethiopia’s proximity to the instability and conflict in Somalia give the country an Elevated risk of kidnapping. Also, militant groups in Somalia upset with the Ethiopian military’s incursion into the country provide an extra motivation for the groups to commit kidnappings in the country. Rebel groups in the Afar region have also kidnapped tourists since 2012.

Kenya Level 4

Several kidnappings of foreigners in northern Kenya, as well as kidnappings of locals in the Nairobi area have led to the Elevated kidnapping risk level. Another factor in the risk level is the presence of Somali militant group Al Shabaab in the country and its actions in retaliation for the Kenyan military incursion into Somalia. Despite the fact that Al Shabaab has been limited in their capabilities over the past year, the threat of kidnapping in Kenya persists.

Madagascar  Level 3

Kidnapping cases are often reported including cases where foreign nationals have been abducted and held for ransom by violent criminals.

Malawi Level 3

Members of wealthy Asian business community have received threats of having their children kidnapped.

Mauritius Level 1

Mozambique Level 4

Kidnappings have become common in Mozambique over the past two years with gangs initially targeted wealthy foreign and local businessmen, but are now also kidnapping people from middle-class backgrounds. Many of the kidnap victims the last two years come from South Asian families but kidnappers have also targeted businessmen of Indian and Muslim origin and most recently Portuguese citizens.

Rwanda Level 1

Seychelles – Level 1

Somalia – Level 5

Somalia has been one of the most conflict-ridden countries in the world since the 1990s. The lack of a central government, rampant poverty, poor economic prospects and militant activity has made kidnapping as well as piracy an attractive option for many Somalis, especially in recent years. Aid workers, international shipping personnel and Westerners are frequently targeted in kidnappings with extended durations and exorbitant ransom demands, therefore the risk of kidnapping in the country remains Severe.

Tanzania Level 1

Uganda – Level 1

Zambia – 1

Zimbabwe Level 1

Middle Africa

Angola – Level 3

Kidnapping of Lebanese citizens in Angola have recently increased. Kidnappers are targeting wealthy Lebanese businessmen in the capital.

Cameroon – Level 3

Cameroon has not traditionally seen kidnappings for ransoms occur in the country. However, a recent kidnap of foreigners near the Nigerian border and the growing instability of Nigeria has increased the kidnapping risk both on land as well as in Cameroon’s territorial waters. Recent kidnapping of Catholic priest by Boko Haram underscores kidnapping threat in the north.

Central African Republic – Level 3

Foreigners, including aid workers have been the target of kidnappings.

Chad – Level 3

Chad does not have a long history of kidnappings occurring in the country, but with escalating conflicts nearby in Nigeria and the Sahel region as a whole, an Elevated risk rating is warranted. Kidnappings are most likely to occur in border areas near Nigeria, northern Cameroon and southern Niger.

Congo (Brazaville) – Level 1

Democratic Republic of the Congo – Level 4

General insecurity due to ongoing tribal conflict and factional warlords in the country provide for an environment in which kidnappings can, and have occurred. Although kidnapping has traditionally been in the form of forced recruitment for armed groups, there have also been several incidents of traditional kidnapping for ransom in the country. In 2016 mass kidnappings began to occur in an expansion from the traditional “hot spot” of North Kivu province, into southern provinces. With the current president refusing to step down in accordance with his constitutionally mandated term limit and postponing elections until early 2018, there is increased political tension that will negatively affect the already strained security apparatus of the country.

Equatorial Guinea – Level 1

Gabon – Level 1

Northern Africa

Algeria – Level 3

While the Algerian government does have a firm grip on power in the country, increasing levels of violence in the Sahel region and the emergence of several new militant groups active in the country denotes a severe kidnapping risk. The country is not without a history of kidnapping, and there have also been several high-profile abductions of Westerners recently.

Egypt – Level 3

Following the Arab Spring protests there have been numerous incidents of kidnapping for ransom, both financial and political, in Cairo as well as the Sinai Peninsula. With the country still unstable and experiencing high levels of crime and unrest, the kidnapping risk will continue to be Elevated in the near-term.

Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (Libya) – Level 5

Following the Arab Spring protests and western intervention in the Libyan conflict, as of the beginning of 2017 there remains no centralized government or group exerting control over the country.  Swathes of territory are controlled by warring factions and terrorist affiliated groups, each governing and interpreting the law as they see fit. As a result, there is no law enforcement or reliable security apparatus to speak of, leaving anyone traveling to Libya at extremely high risk.

Morroco – Level 1

South Sudan – Level 5

Although South Sudan claims that there have been no kidnappings since independence was declared, there have been numerous reports to the contrary, including mass kidnappings and other abductions by rebel groups. The political turmoil and poor economic situation in South Sudan indicate that violence and instability will continue for the foreseeable future.

Sudan – Level 4

Sudan has a recent history of conflict and insecurity that has resulted in numerous high-profile kidnappings, with aid workers particularly at risk. The prospects for the improvement of the security situation in the country, along with the presence of many attractive targets for kidnappers are indicators that the kidnapping risk will remain Severe for the near future.

Tunisia – Level 3

The relative instability that has followed the overthrow of the Tunisian government, which kicked off the Arab Spring, combined with the Sahel conflict and the presence of militant groups with a history of kidnapping in the region are all factors that contribute to an Elevated kidnapping risk in Tunisia. Although Tunisian intelligence agencies are able to mitigate some risk, the potential influx of radicalized militants from Libya remains a concern.

Western Sahara – Level 3

The presence of militant groups looking to target Westerners in the Sahel region to raise operational funds and the lack of an effective law enforcement apparatus are the primary factors in the Elevated kidnapping risk. Several high-profile kidnappings have occurred near Western Sahara in recent years, and there are more militant groups operating in the Sahel than ever before.

Southern Africa

Botswana – Level 1

Lesotho – Level 1

Namibia – Level 1

South Africa – Level 4

Rampant crime in South Africa and incidents of kidnapping for ransom as well as “express” kidnapping in recent years are the factors contributing to the country’s Elevated kidnapping risk.  The current trend for criminal groups is to target both foreign and domestic businessmen and women. The economy taking a sharp dive as well as the scandals and corruption allegations faced by the governing African National Congress may lead to an increase in both kidnapping and violent crime.

Swaziland – Level 1

Western Africa

Benin – Level 1

Burkina Faso – Level 2

Avoid travel to all areas north of the line connecting Djibu and Dari due to the risk of kidnapping. The border area with Mali is extremely dangerous and should absolutely be avoided.

Cape Verde – Level 1

Cote d’lvoire (Ivory Coast) – Level 1

Ghana – Level 2

Recent upsurge in kidnapping in Accra.

Liberia – Level 1

Mali – Level 4

Numerous high-profile abductions of foreigners in recent years, combined with a multi-faceted insurgency in the country’s north result in a Severe kidnapping risk level. Western military intervention will only serve to inspire the insurgent groups to target more foreigners in kidnappings as both a retaliatory response as well as a method of raising funding for operations.

Mauritania – Level 1

Niger – Level 4

Nigeria – Level 5

Kidnapping has been a serious concern in Nigeria for years, and has spread from the Niger Delta area to all areas of the country and out into the Gulf of Guinea with the added dimensions of militant groups in northern Nigeria carrying out kidnappings as both a means to raise funds as well as expression of anti-Western sentiment and maritime pirate activity off Nigeria’s coast. Nigeria is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, and easily warrants a Severe kidnapping risk level.

Senegal – Level 1

Sierra Leone – Level 1

Togo – Level 3

Togo’s risk of kidnapping is Elevated due to rampant kidnapping in nearby Nigeria and the fact that criminal elements from Nigeria have already demonstrated their willingness to target ships in Togo’s territorial waters in recent years. While it is not highly likely that kidnapping will become a common practice in Togo, it is already a threat offshore and could easily become a concern on land.

Anguilla – Level 1

Antigua and Barbuda –Level 1

Aruba – Level 1

Bahamas – Level 1

Barbados – Level 1

Cayman Islands – Level 1

Cuba – Level 1

Dominican Republic – Level 3

The main form of kidnapping comprising the risk to travelers is “express” kidnapping, but there have also been several incidents of traditional kidnapping in recent years. However, the main threat in the Dominican Republic is extremely violent robberies where the trend is to attack foreigners. In 2016 a string of assaults and robberies resulted in the deaths of several foreign nationals, both expatriate residents of the Domincan Republic and tourists. High inflation has contributed to the increase in violent crime toward foreigners and shows no signs of slowing down.

Grenada – Level 1

Guadeloupe – Level 1

Haiti – Level 4

The lack of an effective government or law enforcement capacity in the country as well as a history of kidnapping in the country are the main factors in the Severe risk level for Haiti. Most kidnappings occur in the Port-au-Prince area, targeting wealthy locals. However, there have been numerous incidents involving foreigners in recent years. As the country continues to recover from the devastating earthquake that crippled its infrastructure, it is unlikely that the security situation will improve any time soon.

Jamaica – Level 1

Martinique – Level 1

St. Kitts and Nevis – Level 1

Trinidad and Tobago – Level 3

Numerous kidnappings have occurred in Trinidad & Tobago in recent years, and security has not improved enough to downgrade the kidnapping risk from Elevated. The oil and gas industry in the country provides many attractive targets in an environment with serious crime issues.

North America

Canada – Level 1

The United States – Level 1

Mexico – Level 5

Mexico is home to some of the largest, most powerful and dangerous drug-trafficking organizations in the world, and the government’s efforts to combat the cartels since 2006 has led to a massive increase in violent crime, kidnapping included. Whereas the phenomenon once only affected very wealthy locals, kidnappers now target victims from all levels of society. The gangs responsible for the kidnappings vary in level of organization, from highly sophisticated to extremely amateurish and are spread throughout the entire country. These factors combined with the lack of progress in securing the country have led to Mexico being home to perhaps the largest volume of kidnappings in the world, resulting in a Severe kidnapping risk level.

Central America

Belize – Level 2

The presence of drug-trafficking organizations in the country, general impunity for violent crime and an inefficient police force are the main factors that contribute to an Elevated risk rating. Kidnappings are most likely to occur in urban areas, and “express” kidnappings are more of a threat than kidnappings for ransom.

Costa Rica – Level 1

El Salvador – Level 3

Although El Salvador has not seen the prevalence of kidnapping that the other Northern Triangle countries (Guatemala and Honduras), the presence of criminal organizations in the country, as well as rampant corruption and criminal impunity warrants an Elevated risk level.

Guatemala – Level 4

Rampant crime, corruption and impunity for criminals in Guatemala have led to an increase in kidnapping in recent years that warrants a Severe risk level. The presence of Mexican cartels in the country also contributes to the risk level. Extortion is a major problem as well in the country, with many small and large criminal organizations targeting business and land owners with threat extortions as a major source of revenue.

Honduras – Level 4

Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, with rampant crime of all sorts prevalent throughout the country, particularly so in urban areas. Similar to Guatemala and El Salvador, impunity for criminals, a corrupt police force and poor economic conditions do not discourage criminals from kidnapping for ransom. As there are no signs that the security situation in the country is improving whatsoever, the kidnapping risk level in the country will remain Severe for the foreseeable future.

Nicaragua – Level 1

Panama – Level 1

South America

Argentina – Level 4

The primary kidnapping threat in Argentina is that of “express” and “virtual” kidnapping, and typically affects wealthy locals in the Greater Buenos Aires area, particularly late at night. However, kidnapping for ransom does occasionally occur. According to reported statistics, Argentina is now the world leader in “virtual kidnappings”; however, this type of kidnapping does not tend to target foreigners.

Bolivia – Level 4

Brazil – Level 4

Although Brazil has seen a significant decline in traditional kidnappings for ransom over the past several years, an increase in “express” kidnapping has occurred in urban areas and the high crime rates leave open an opportunity for a return to more kidnapping for ransom.

Chile – Level 1

Kidnappings for ransom are rarely reported in Chile, however, “express” kidnapping incidents have increased since 2010. These incidents primarily occur in urban areas, particularly Santiago and Puente Alto.

Colombia – Level 5

While the security situation has vastly improved in Colombia since 2000, guerrilla groups still maintain a presence in the country, as do drug-trafficking organizations and other criminal groups, known as BACRIMs. All of these groups have been known to kidnap victims for ransom, holding them for long periods of time and demanding exorbitant ransoms. The government have not been able to incapacitate criminal elements to the point that the kidnapping risk is not still Severe in the country. The threat is most prevalent in rural areas near the Venezuelan and Ecuadorian borders, as well as the greater Bogota area.

Ecuador – Level 3

Due to the presence of Colombian guerrillas in areas near the Colombian border and several recent kidnappings for ransom, the risk level for kidnapping is Elevated in Ecuador. Also, there has been an increase in “express” kidnappings over recent years in urban areas, particularly Guayaquil.

French Guiana – Level 1

Guyana – Level 4

Kidnappings for ransom do not occur often in Guyana, but inefficient security forces and a significant criminal element in the country are enough to warrant an Elevated risk level.

Paraguay – Level 1

Peru – Level 3

Both criminal and guerrilla elements have carried out kidnappings for ransom in recent years. Criminal kidnappings primarily occur in urban areas such as Lima and Callao, while the risk of kidnapping by the Shining Path rebels is limited to the Apurimac and Ene River Valley (VRAE) region. However, kidnapping is not as prevalent as in other regional countries such as Colombia and Venezuela, therefore the kidnapping risk level is only Elevated.

Suriname – Level 1

Uruguay – Level 1

Venezuela – Level 5

Venezuela has one of the worst crime problems in the world, with rampant corruption proving to be a major obstacle in combatting insecurity. It has one of the highest rates of kidnapping worldwide in terms of volume or per capita, and the problem is spread throughout the country. Similar to Colombia, both kidnapping for ransom and “express” kidnappings occur frequently and target mostly middle- and upper-class locals, although foreigners are targeted as well. The government has shown no ability to reign in crime or insecurity in the country, and is facing instability, therefore the kidnapping risk in the country will remain serious for the foreseeable future.

Afganistan – Level 5

An extremely active insurgency combined with a recent history of abductions of both Westerners and locals results in a severe risk rating for Afghanistan. The lack of an effective centralized government, defense force or law enforcement capable of securing the country is not likely to change in the near future, particularly after the withdrawal of international troops.

Armenia – Level 1

Azerbaijan – Level 1

Bangladesh – Level 3

Abductions in Bangladesh primarily affect wealthy locals in urban areas, although the presence of militant groups in areas near the Indian border presents an abduction risk. Also, pirates active off the coast of Bangladesh have a history of abducting fishermen or hijacking their boats for ransom.

Bhutan – Level 1

Brunei Darussalam – Level 1

Cambodia – Level 1

China – Level 1

Georgia – Level 1

India – Level 5

Kidnapping for ransom in India falls primarily into two separate categories: those committed by amateur criminals targeting a victim of perceived affluence they are typically acquainted with in an effort to secure a small ransom, and those committed by militant groups in eastern India in an effort to raise funds for their operations. Foreigners are typically only affected in the latter of the two.

Indonesia – Level 1

Japan – Level 1

Kazakhstan – Level 1

Korea (North) – Level 1

Korea (South) – Level 1

Kyrgyzstan – Level 1

Laos – Level 1

Malaysia – Level 4

Kidnapping in the Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru metropolitan areas has been a concern for years. These kidnappings are typically carried out by criminal gangs of moderate organization, featuring short-medium term holding of hostages for moderate to large ransoms. Also, a recent kidnapping in the eastern Sabah area may be an indicator that Filipino groups have expanded their kidnapping operations to the area. These factors lead to an Elevated kidnapping risk level.

Maldives – Level 1

Mongolia – Level 1

Myanmar (ex-Burma) – Level 1

Nepal – Level 4

Similar to India’s urban areas, kidnappings in Nepal primarily affect locals of perceived affluence and are carried out by amateur or moderately organized criminal groups in metropolitan areas such as Kathmandu, resulting in an Elevated kidnapping risk level.

Pakistan – Level 5

Similar to the situation in Afghanistan, the presence of numerous militant groups and an ongoing insurgency provides the circumstances in which kidnapping is a significant security concern. Criminal elements and militant groups target locals and Westerners, respectively, in kidnappings for ransom. Numerous high-profile incidents in recent years and the lack of an effective security or law enforcement apparatus lead to the Severe kidnapping risk level.

Philippines – Level 5

Kidnappings have occurred for years in both the Manila metropolitan area as well as in the southern Philippines, particularly Mindanao Island and the Sulu archipelago. Foreigners of both Asian and Western origin are frequently targeted by criminal elements as well as militant groups in the southern Philippines, especially Abu Sayyaf. Ransoms are lower in the Manila area than in Mindanao and Sulu, and victims are typically held longer in the south. Numerous high-profile kidnapping victims are currently being held in the southern Philippines, and there are no indications that the active groups will not continue to kidnap victims for ransom as a source of revenue. These factors result in a Severe kidnapping risk for the country.

Singapore – Level 1

Sri Lanka – Level 1

Tajikistan – Level 1

Thailand – Level 1

Timor (East) – Level 1

Turkmenistan – Level 1

Uzbekistan – Level 1

Vietnam – Level 1

NOTE: Although the European continent remains at a level “1” risk for kidnapping, the threat of terrorism is increasingly and exceedingly high. The major influx of un-vetted, possibly radicalized migrants from the Middle East and Africa has already resulted in security issues and major attacks throughout the European Union. As a result, there has been a further fueling of right-wing nationalism throughout the bloc, increasing ethnic and religious tensions. Although Europe is safe for travel and business alike, it is recommended to be vigilant and to alert the appropriate authorities of suspicious activity.

Albania – Level 1

Andorra – Level 1

Belarus – Level 1

Bosnia and Herzegovina – Level 1

Croatia – Level 1

Iceland – Level 1

Kosovo – Level 1

Macedonia – Level 1

Moldova – Level 1

Montenegro – Level 1

Norway – Level 1

Russia – Level 3

Kidnapping in Russia is not as prevalent as it has been in the past, but still occurs enough to warrant an Elevated kidnapping risk level. The typical targets in Russian kidnappings are very wealthy locals, often with ties to organized crime.

Serbia – Level 1

Switzerland – Level 1

Turkey – Level 4

Traditional kidnapping for ransom has decreased recently in Turkey. However, an ongoing Kurdish rebellion in the country’s southeast has involved frequent kidnappings for both financial and political motivations. A failed coup in July 2016 was followed by thousands of arrests in a government curtail of free speech and dissidence. As the Turkish military increased its role in the Syrian conflict, Turkey has seen an increase of bombings and in December 2016 the Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated.

Ukraine – Level 3

Similar to Russia, while kidnappings for ransom are infrequent, they do occur and typically kidnappers target wealthy Ukrainians or foreign nationals from the region, indicating an Elevated kidnapping risk.

United Kingdom – Level 1

European Union

Austria – Level 1

Belgium – Level 1

Bulgaria – Level 1

Cyprus – Level 1

Czech Republic – Level 1

Denmark – Level 1

Estonia – Level 1

France – Level 1

Finland – Level 1

Germany – Level 1

Greece – Level 1

Hungary – Level 1

Ireland – Level 1

Italy – Level 1

Latvia – Level 1

Lithuania – Level 1

Luxembourg – Level 1

Malta – Level 1

Netherlands (Antilles) – Level 1

Netherlands – Level 1

Poland – Level 1

Portugal – Level 1

Romania – Level 1

Slovakia – Level 1

Slovenia – Level 1

Spain – Level 1

Sweden – Level 1

Bahrain – Level 1

Iraq – Level 5

Since the U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation of the country, kidnapping has been a major concern for both locals and foreign contractors. Although kidnappings do not occur as frequently as they did in recent years, an ongoing insurgency and poor security conditions are the factors in the Severe kidnapping risk level.

Iran – Level 1

Israel – Level 1

Jordan – Level 1

Kuwait – Level 1

Lebanon – Level 5

Not only are criminal groups’ abductions of wealthy locals in the Beirut and Bekaa valleys a concern, but the ongoing conflict in Syria and its spillover into Lebanese territory warrant a Severe kidnapping risk level.

Oman – Level 1

Palestine (Palestinian Territory) –  Level 4

The ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israelis and Palestinians creates an insecure environment in which kidnapping can thrive. While the majority of abductions in the Palestinian Territory have involved militant personnel or settlers, there is a risk that foreigners or locals may be kidnapped for ransom, hence the Elevated kidnapping risk level.

Qatar – Level 1

Saudi Arabia – Level 1

Syria – Level 5

Kidnapping in Syria primarily involved either rebels or government forces abducting each other for political hostage purposes rather than for ransom. However, the rampant insecurity and the fact that abductions are now so commonplace create the opportunity for kidnappers to begin demanding ransom for their captives. Given the chaotic circumstances in the country and the aforementioned factors, the risk of kidnapping in Syria is Severe.

United Arab Emirates – Level 1

Yemen – Level 5

The presence of militant and tribal groups of anti-Western persuasion throughout the country has led to kidnapping becoming a widespread phenomenon. Victims are not always ransomed for financial compensations, sometimes only concessions from the government or the release of fellow tribesman. Given that kidnapping has proved an effective means to an end for the militant and tribal groups in the country, the risk for kidnapping is Severe and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.

Australia – Level 1

Fiji – Level 1

New Zealand – Level 1

Papua New Guinea – Level 1

Papua New Guinea has not seen any reports of kidnapping in 2016; however, the border area with Indonesia saw reports of kidnapping in the past, some of which were so high profile that protests followed the abductions.

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