US Adds Kidnapping Risk to State Department Travel Advisories
One week after an American tourist and a safari field guide were kidnapped and held for ransom in Uganda, the US State Department has decided to add a new risk indicator to its list of travel advisories.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the department said a new kidnapping indicator, marked by the letter "K" has been introduced "in order to communicate more clearly to US citizens the risks of kidnapping and hostage taking by criminal and terrorist actors around the world." The State Department went on to say that it, "has no greater responsibility than the safety and welfare of Americans overseas."
Risk indicators already established include "crime, terrorism, civil unrest, natural disasters, health, and other potential risks."
The "K" risk indicator has been applied to 35 countries so far: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russian Federation, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine (in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine), Venezuela and Yemen.
Kimberly Sue Endicott was on a game drive in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park, near the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo, along with an elderly couple when four armed men kidnapped the California woman as well as the driver of the vehicle. Both Endicott and tour guide Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo were released and returned to safety, unharmed, after being held hostage for five days. According to ABC News, a ransom was paid to the kidnappers, but it is unclear who made the payment and what the amount was.