Somalia is a hot spot for kidnapping, as the rescue Wednesday of two hostages by U.S. Navy SEALs has spotlighted. But Mexico, Afghanistan and Venezuela are even worse, according to a company that tracks threats across the world.
Somalia and Kenya together ranked ninth in the world for kidnapping foreigners from October to December of last year, with two kidnappings a month, the Britain-based company AKE found. (Somali waters, where piracy has been a persistent problem, ranked fifth, with 13 crew members taken a month.)
It may seem surprising that a private company is gathering these statistics. Taryn Evans, an analyst at AKE, said that governments do release data on kidnapping, but they are often skewed for political reasons. Even if governments don’t fudge the numbers, many kidnappings are never reported.
The results from official sources aren't so believable: Canada had the highest kidnapping rate in the world as of 2009, according to the most recent United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime data. So to get better information, the British company uses on-the-ground experts to track kidnappings.
Here are its most recent rankings for the worst kidnapping spots in the world:
- Somali waters
- Gulf of Guinea waters
- Sahel region
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Sudan/South Sudan
-- Emily Alpert
Photo: A woman hides her face behind a screen door where she lives in secret far from her ancestral home. She and her family fled their remote ranch near the U.S.-Mexico border after members of the Beltran-Leyva drug cartel kidnapped her brother and took over her house. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times