The International Risk Podcast speaks with the world’s best risk managers, crisis experts, and personnel working on a variety of impactful projects in high risk locations. Kidnapping is a high profile, and often misunderstand risk. In this article we will unpack the reality of kidnappings in the first quarter of 2022.
In the first quarter of 2022, 50 percent of kidnapping and abductions occurred when the victims were either in transit or outside. The majority, 97 percent, of victims were nations in the country where the kidnapping occurred, and 85 percent of kidnapping and abductions were resolved within eight days. We see that the majority of kidnap and abductions occur in the Americas 34 percent, and Africa 44 percent, with only one percent of kidnappings occurring in Europe. Whilst the delineation between criminal groups, left and right wing groups, and religiously motivated groups is not always clear, it is reasonable to state that over 85 percent of kidnappings are conducted by criminal organisations who are seeking financial payment for the return of the victim.
The long term trend of endemic kidnapping in Mexico continued in Q1 of 2022, with a high rate of kidnappings occurring in the US/Mexico border regions, the Gulf States, and western and central regions of Mexico. Well-established criminal networks in Mexico continue to target a wide-variety of people including employees, business owners, and anyone suspected of having the capacity or being linked with someone with capacity to pay for a ransom. Ninety-percent of kidnappings are resolved within one week. Haiti continues to be highly unstable and a hotbed of violent crime and kidnapping. The lawlessness in many parts of Haiti, including the capital Port au Prince mean that criminal groups are able to conduct kidnapping activities with impunity and engage in longer term negotiations with the aim of securing larger kidnap payouts. Nearly half of all kidnaps in Haiti lasted longer than one week. Foreigners and Haitians are equally targeted for kidnapping, so too are business owners and their employees. Kidnapping trends in cities like Sao Paulo in Brail and rural areas of Colombia remain persistently high. Kidnappings are occurring in both areas with high crime rates, as well as relatively affluent locations.
In Africa, the majority of kidnapping events are occurring in Nigeria, accounting for nearly 90 percent of all kidnappings in Africa. Q1 of 2022 showed a significant increase in the number of attacks when compared to the same period in 2021, and this trend is likely to continue. As criminal groups continue to increase their capacity and professionalism, kidnapping rates in Nigeria are expected to rise. Criminal groups in South Africa are also increasing their capacity to conduct successful kidnapping operations. Small business owners remain the focus of kidnapping activities in South Africa. The majority of victims in South Africa have been kidnapped whilst in transit. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), kidnapping remains a serious risk in North and South Kivu and Ituri provinces. The DRC Government has extended the state of emergency in these areas 22 times and this is likely to continue as lawlessness is predicted for the foreseeable future. The majority of kidnappings in DRC are local agricultural workers who pose a low risk for the kidnappers, there is an increasing trend of targeting NGO workers who are perceived to more lucrative targets. Three NGO workers, including one foreigner, was kidnapped in DRC in January.