Protecting NGOs from Kidnap and Ransom 

The Guardian Global Development Professionals Network

NGO workers living and working in foreign locations may be targeted as kidnap and ransom targets based on their employer and daily routine

Aerial photograph of Mexico City. According to Vocativ, one of the most dangerous locations for kidnapping is Mexico. Photograph: Planetpix / Alamy

Kidnap and ransom victims across the world can be profiled and targeted for a number of reasons, including their income, employer, nationality or line of work. However, the goal behind nearly all kidnappings is cash – and expats living and working abroad with international organisations like NGOs are often targets. For NGO staff members currently operating in high-risk or volatile locations, ensuring that they are knowledgeable, prepared and protected for a potential kidnap and ransom situation is critical for their safety.

Above all else, the appropriate international kidnap and ransom insurance is ideal for NGO workers in dangerous locales across the globe to help ensure a safe, affordable, timely resolution to any possible incident.

Kidnapping hotspots across the world

Living and working in a large number of countries has the potential risk of kidnapping, even if it may not seem to be the case on the surface. While data is often hard to come by – many governments have broad and diverse definitions of kidnapping – news website Vocativ recently compiled a list of the top hotspots for this risk throughout the world.

According to Vocativ, one of the most dangerous locations for kidnapping is Mexico. This country has been battling kidnapping for years, and over the past decade the incident rate has been on the rise. The most common type of kidnapping in Mexico is the express variant. During these attacks, targets are held hostage and brought to the nearest cashpoint to withdraw the ransom amount. Violent attacks have also been reported, and a high number of deaths have been reported as a result of kidnapping.

In addition to Mexico, one of the other dangerous countries is India, Vocativ reported. This type of crime is growing at the fastest rate in the country, and most of the attacks are motivated by money.

Kidnapping is more prevalent in the poorer regions of the country, where criminal organisations use these attacks to supplement their incomes. Other countries that made the list include Venezuela, Lebanon and the Philippines.

Avoid routine to reduce risk

Fortunately, NGO employers and staff members can take steps to reduce the risk of kidnappings, even in volatile or unstable locations. According to BBC News, this goal is easier if you make sure to avoid routines and patterns, and reduce overall risk exposure while traveling.

"We don't realise how many patterns we get into – you get up, have your cereal, have a shower, leave the house at the same time, and before you know it your life is 90% the same," Mike Heron, a former UK Royal Marine who trains workers abroad on safe living, told the media outlet.

Another key step is to try to blend in with the surrounding people and culture, BBC News noted. For example, this can be accomplished through the use of vehicles that are originally manufactured or purchased in the region, without foreign plates. For staff members taking public transport, they should try to verify the legitimacy of the company beforehand. For instance, taxis are often one of the most common locations for a kidnapping to take place.

In general, the best line of defense for NGO workers operating in high-risk locations is to adopt a proactive approach by considering a comprehensive international kidnap and ransom insurance solution. This will ensure that NGO staff members and their employers are protected from unexpected financial costs of a kidnap and ransom incident.

Check out this article and other NGO risk management articles on The Guardian, click here 

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