35 countries where the US State Department is warning Americans they could get kidnapped

  • The State Department this week announced a new risk indicator for its public travel advisories.
  • The new indicator, signalling a risk of kidnapping, has been added to the notices for 35 countries – Mexico, Haiti, and the Philippines among them.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

The US State Department announced this week it was adding a “K” indicator to its public travel advisories to let American travellers know where they could be at risk of getting kidnapped or taken hostage.

“The new ‘K’ indicator is part of our ongoing commitment to provide clear and comprehensive travel safety information to US citizens so they can make informed travel decisions,” the department said.

Read more: 3 big reasons it’s so hard to tell just how violent the world’s most violent cities are

Currently, 14 countries are designated “do not travel,” nearly all because of ongoing armed conflicts. The agency has four levels of travel that it uses to let Americans know what to expect in each country:

  1. Exercise normal precautions
  2. Exercise increased caution
  3. Reconsider travel
  4. Do not travel

The new “K” indicator comes days after the kidnapping of US tourist Kimberly Sue Endicott and her guide, Jean Paul, in Uganda by captors who demanded a $US500,000 ransom. The pair were rescued by Ugandan security forces over the weekend.

Endicott and Jean Paul were abducted near Uganda’s border with Congo. Since then, the State Department has added the “K” indicator to the travel advisories for those two countries and 33 others, all of which we’ve rounded up here.


Here’s a map of the 35 countries on the list:

While some countries on this list are classified level one or two overall, many have areas within them where there is a higher chance of risks like kidnapping, crime, civil unrest, and terrorism.


Afghanistan — Level 4: Do not travel

The State Department warns of crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict.


Algeria — Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The State Department warns of terrorism and kidnapping in the Sahara Desert.


Angola — Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

The State Department warns of crime and kidnapping in urban areas.


Bangladesh — Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The State Department warns of crime, terrorism, and kidnapping in Southeast Bangladesh, including the Chittagong Hill Tracts.


Burkina Faso — Level 3: Reconsider travel

The State Department warns of terrorism and kidnapping.

“Terrorist groups continue plotting attacks and kidnappings in Burkina Faso and may conduct attacks anywhere with no warning,”the advisory reads. “Targets could include hotels, restaurants, police stations, customs offices, areas at or near mining sites, military posts, and schools.”


Cameroon — Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The State Department warns of crime and kidnapping in the north, northwest, and southwest regions, and parts of east and Adamawa regions. The agency warns of terrorism in the far north region and armed conflict in the northwest and southwest regions.


Central African Republic — Level 4: Do not travel

The Central African Republic government and 14 armed groups reached a peace deal after their first-ever direct dialogue aimed at ending years of conflict, the UN and African Union announced on February 2, 2019.

Still, the State Department warns of crime, civil unrest, and kidnapping.


Colombia — Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The State Department warns of crime, terrorism, and kidnapping throughout the country, and says Americans should not travel to Arauca, Cauca (except Popayan), Chocó (except Nuquí), Nariño, and Norte de Santander (except Cucuta) due to crime and terrorism.


Democratic Republic of the Congo — Level 3: Reconsider travel

The State Department warns of crime and civil unrest throughout the country, and says Americans should not travel to North Kivu and Ituri provinces due to crime, Ebola, and kidnapping. The advisory also warns of armed conflict in eastern DRC and the three Kasai provinces.


Ethiopia — Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The State Department warns of civil unrest and communications disruptions, as well as civil unrest, terrorism, kidnapping, and landmines in the Somali Regional State.


Haiti — Level 4: Do not travel

The State Department warns of crime, civil unrest, and kidnapping.


Iran — Level 4: Do not travel

The State Department warns of kidnapping, arrest, detention of US citizens.


Iraq — Level 4: Do not travel

The State Department warns of terrorism, kidnapping, and armed conflict.


Kenya — Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The US State Department warns of crime, terrorism and kidnapping.


Lebanon — Level 3: Reconsider travel

The State Department warns of crime, terrorism, kidnapping, and armed conflict.


Libya — Level 4: Do not travel

Reuters stringer photoA boot stained with blood at the site of twin car bombs in Benghazi, Libya, January 2018.

The State Department warns of crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict.


Malaysia — Level 1: Exercise normal precautions

The State Department warns of kidnapping in the eastern area of Sabah State.


Mali — Level 4: Do not travel

The State Department warns of crime, terrorism, and kidnapping.


Mexico — Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The State Department warns of crime and kidnapping.

“Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread,” the advisory reads. “The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in many areas of Mexico as travel by US government employees to these areas is prohibited or significantly restricted.”

The government recommends Americans don’t travel to the states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas.

The advisory warns that Tamaulipas state is particularly dangerous:

“Violent crime, such as murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault, is common. Gang activity, including gun battles and blockades, is widespread. Armed criminal groups target public and private passenger buses as well as private automobiles travelling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments. Federal and state security forces have limited capability to respond to violence in many parts of the state.”


Niger — Level 3: Reconsider travel

The State Department warns of violent crime, terrorism, and kidnapping.


Nigeria — Level 3: Reconsider travel

The State Department warns of crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and piracy, throughout the country, with particular risk of terrorism in the Borno and Yobe states and the northern Adamawa state.


Pakistan — Level 3: Reconsider travel

The State Department warns of terrorism throughout the country, with particular risk of kidnapping in the Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, including the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The Azad Kashmir area also has the potential for armed conflict.


Papua New Guinea — Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The State Department warns of crime, civil unrest, a polio outbreak, the aftermath of an earthquake, and kidnapping.


Philippines — Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The State Department warns of crime, terrorism, civil unrest, a measles outbreak, and kidnapping, with higher risks in the Sulu Archipelago and Mindanao.


Russia — Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The State Department warns of terrorism, harassment, and the “arbitrary enforcement of local laws” throughout Russia. The government advises Americans to avoid the north Caucasus, including Chechnya and Mount Elbrus, due to terrorism, kidnapping, and risk of civil unrest, and Crimea “due to Russia’s occupation of the Ukrainian territory and abuses by its occupying authorities.”


Somalia — Level 4: Do not travel

The State Department warns of crime, terrorism, kidnapping and piracy.


South Sudan — Level 4: Do not travel

The State Department warns of crime, kidnapping, and armed conflict.


Sudan — Level 3: Reconsider travel

The State Department warns of crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict.


Syria — Level 4: do not travel

The State Department warns of terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict.


Trinidad and Tobago — Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The State Department warns of crime, terrorism, and kidnapping.


Turkey — Level 3: Reconsider travel

The State Department warns of terrorism and arbitrary detentions, with higher risk of kidnapping near the Syrian and Iraq borders.


Uganda — Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The State Department warns of crime and kidnapping.

“Violent crime, such as armed robbery, home invasion, kidnapping, and sexual assault, is common, especially in larger cities including Kampala and Entebbe,” the advisory reads. “Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious crime.”


Ukraine — Level 2: Exercise increased caution

The State Department warns of crime, civil unrest, and violence during national elections.

The government doesn’t recommend travel to Crimea “due to arbitrary detentions and other abuses by Russian occupation authorities,” or to the eastern parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, due to armed conflict and kidnapping.


Venezuela — Level 4: Do not travel

The State Department warns of crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, kidnapping, and the arbitrary arrest and detention of US citizens.


Yemen — Level 4: Do not travel

The State Department warns of terrorism, civil unrest, health risks, kidnapping, and armed conflict.

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