Living as an expat exposes the individual to many more dangers than a simple holidaymaker. While the traveller may go the same places as the expat as a visitor, they are more likely to be on their guard, wary of the unusual and more likely to take more precautions. An expat in the same situation is liable to become blasé and to take a more laissez-faire attitude to their surroundings and safety. The unusual becomes the norm and it becomes much easier to be tricked or fooled, as you become lulled into a false sense of security.
The typical places that people choose to relocate to as an expat tend not to be danger zones, however workers who choose to live as expats, rather than flit between their chosen place of work and their home country, can find themselves at risk. Kidnap danger zones include the oil and gas producing countries around the Middle and Far East, ‘the Stans’ and parts of Russia, areas of Africa including Nigeria, Somalia and parts of South America.
A common mistake made by westerners is to assume that they are not sufficiently wealthy to become the target of kidnapping. The fact is that, while we may not consider ourselves to be particularly well off compared with our more affluent fellow countrymen, ANY westerner can appear to be wealthy when viewed from abject poverty. There is a belief that every westerner has access to untold wealth, not just their own, but their family too.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office website contains good advice for travellers outside the UK and includes information about threat levels as well as recent outrages. It is a good guide to the safe areas of a country and provides information about when not to travel or frequent some areas, which may be perfectly acceptable during the day.
If you are living in a risky location, give some thought to what a kidnapping might entail and how you would react. If a kidnapping occurs in a public place, making the maximum amount of fuss at the point of abduction is sensible (although don't do anything silly that might risk your life or the lives of people with you). Ideally, you want others to be aware that you have been kidnapped as quickly as possible and so, even though you may not be able to summon help by making a fuss, at least you might alert the authorities more quickly by making others aware that you are being taken forcibly.
When in captivity, keep calm and become docile. Try to remember things that might help rescuers trace you or if you are able to escape later - sounds, smells as well as distances travelled - time periods etc. Concentrating on these things will help you remain calm, which will be essential if you have nervous or trigger happy kidnappers.
If you are an expat living in an area where kidnapping is a risk, a robust kidnap and ransom policy will be as essential as medical cover.
K&R Expert can help advise and arrange this for you: call 01825 745410
By Jenny Carter-Vaughan, K&R Expert