I just spent some time on the Aid Worker database researching the number of reported kidnappings of NGO aid workers kidnapped in 2018. Surprisingly 31 aid workers were kidnapped, 28 of which survived. Two were kidnapped and killed. I have not found a reputable database for missionary incidents but know from my research that the number of missionaries kidnapped is exponentially higher than that of aid workers. Every year, good-hearted people set out on journeys to do good things for humanity. In so many cases these young people are filled with the belief that nothing will happen to them because they are setting out to do good. In many cases, humanitarian NGO’s and missionary organizations also foster this mindset and send their people out without any prevention training. This dissonance often leads to good-hearted people falling prey to opportunists, sociopaths, criminal organizations, cartels, and terrorist groups.
In the past twelve months we have spoken to over one hundred missionaries and aid workers from a variety of small organizations. We have also talked to members of the press, and people who travel frequently. In almost every case, while speaking to the organizations themselves, we have been told “We have our own people who provide that kind of training.” That may be true, but the individuals we have spoken to have indicated that they have not received any travel security or anti kidnapping training. In the case of one person traveling to Africa I was told “I just don’t see the need for that kind of training.” As a parent, this bothers me. I want to see our young people head out into the world to do good, armed with the skill sets and knowledge base to protect themselves.
A one-day seminar could provide Aid Workers, Missionaries, Press, and Travelers with enough situational awareness to avoid trouble. A three-day seminar could do even more to provide the same group with the ability to recognize and avoid trouble, defend themselves, and escape from captivity if required. A small investment in people could prevent a lot of problems. Crisis management training for the managers should also be pursued. The time to think about what to do is not after an incident happens. Prevention is the best cure, but if you are one of those who believes that you don’t need to be armed with knowledge, I need to let you know that we also provide crisis support. Please check out opportunities to attend our Anti Kidnapping and Hostage Survival training on March 6th. It will be worth your time.