World War Three is an eventuality no one wants to come to pass but it’s undeniably a concern for many. Fears of war have rocketed after a US air strike ordered by US President Donald Trump killed Major General Qassem Soleimani in Iran. Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei has since unleashed a barrage of furious tweets in which he warned of “severe revenge”.
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With Iran proving an alarming threat on the world stage, which countries are considered the most dangerous of all?
Medical and travel security services company International SOS has revealed the top riskiest countries in the world for this year.
Although Iran itself is not high on the list, many of the dangerous countries are in the Middle East, as well as Africa.
International SOS looks at both medical risk and security risk for travel.
“The travel security risk rating evaluates the threat posed to travellers and international assignees by political violence (including terrorism, insurgency, politically motivated unrest and war), social unrest (including sectarian, communal and ethnic violence) as well as violent and petty crime,” explained the company.
“Other factors, such as the robustness of the transport infrastructure, the state of industrial relations, the effectiveness of the security and emergency services and the country’s susceptibility to natural disasters are also considered where they are of sufficient magnitude to impact the overall risk environment for travellers.
As for medical risk: “International SOS assigns travel medical risk ratings by assessing a range of health risks and mitigating factors, including but not limited to: infectious disease burden, environmental factors, medical evacuation data, road trauma data, standard of emergency medical services, outpatient and inpatient medical care, access to quality pharmaceutical supplies, and cultural, language or administrative barriers.”
The following countries are the riskiest destinations for 2020 with a “very high” travel medical risk.
This South American country is labelled a “high” travel security risk.
International SOS deems this as: “Protests are frequently violent and may target or disrupt foreigners; they may be exacerbated by governance issues, including security or law and order capacity.
“Violent crime and terrorism pose significant direct or incidental risks to travellers and international assignees. Communal, sectarian or racial violence is common and foreigners may be directly targeted. Certain parts of the country are inaccessible or off-limits to the traveller.”
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to within 80 km (50 miles) of the Colombian border; within 40 km (25 miles) of the Brazilian border and to Zulia State as a result of prolonged power cuts and an increase in civil disorder.
“Drug traffickers and illegal armed groups are active along the border area with Colombia and Brazil and there is a risk of kidnapping,” warned the FCO.
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the remaining areas of Venezuela, due to ongoing crime and instability.
This Caribbean country has a “high” travel security risk.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all but essential travel to Haiti due to the current unstable and dangerous security situation.
As with all countries in this list, North Korea is a “very high” travel medical risk. This category means: “Healthcare is almost non-existent or severely overtaxed,” according to International SOS.
“There may be very limited or no primary care, emergency care or dental services. Quality prescription drugs are frequently unavailable.
“Food and water-borne infections are common. Potentially life-threatening infectious diseases such as malaria and cholera may be persistently present and large outbreaks may occur.”
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to North Korea.
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to: the Enhanced Security Zone in Kabul
Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Panjshir province, and the city of Bamian in Bamian province.
They advise against all travel to all other areas of Kabul and the rest of Afghanistan.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Afghanistan. What’s more, the country is in a major earthquake zone and remains at risk from powerful earthquakes, aftershocks, landslides and flooding.
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Yemen is labelled as an “extreme” travel security risk. International SOS explains this means: “Government control and law and order may be minimal or non-existent across large areas.
“Serious threat of violent attacks by armed groups targeting travellers and international assignees. Government and transport services are barely functional. Large parts of the country are inaccessible to foreigners”.
The FCO advise against all travel to Yemen. This includes the mainland and all islands. If you’re in Yemen, you should leave immediately.
Iraq is also an “extreme” travel security risk. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to: Anbar province, Ninewah province, Salah-Al-Din province
Diyala province, Tam’mim (Kirkuk) province, in Erbil province, south of Road 80, and within 10km of the border with Ninewah province between Road 80 and Road 2.
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of Iraq, including the remainder of the Kurdistan region.
“The security situation throughout Iraq remains uncertain, and could deteriorate quickly,” said the FCO.
Syria is also an “extreme” travel security risk. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all travel to Syria.
British nationals in Syria should leave by any practical means. “The situation remains volatile and dangerous,” warns the FCO.
Similarly, Libya is an “extreme” travel security risk. The FCO advise against all travel to Libya, and for British nationals still in Libya to leave immediately by any practical means. This advice has been in place consistently since 2014.
“Local security situations are fragile and can quickly deteriorate into intense fighting and clashes without warning,” said the FCO.
Eritrea has a “medium “ travel security risk despite its high travel medical risk.
This category signifies: “Periodic political unrest, violent protests, insurgency and/or sporadic acts of terrorism occur,” explained International SOS. “Travellers and international assignees may face risk from communal, sectarian or racial violence and violent crime.
“Capacity of security and emergency services and infrastructure varies. Industrial action can disrupt travel.”
The FCO advise against all travel within 25km of Eritrea’s land borders, with a handful of exceptions. All border crossings between Ethiopia and Eritrea are currently closed.
Somalia is an “extreme” travel security risk. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all travel to Somalia, including Somaliland except for the cities of Hargeisa and Berbera to which the FCO advise against all but essential travel.
This is also an “extreme” travel security risk. The FCO advise against all travel to South Sudan. If you’re in South Sudan, you should leave if it’s safe to do so.
Central African Republic
Again, Central African Republic is in the “extreme” category. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to central Bangui between the Airport and the Oubangui river and all travel to the rest of Bangui and the Central African Republic.
Niger has a “high” travel security risk. The FCO advise against all travel to a majority of the African country.
“Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Niger, including kidnapping,’ said the FCO.
Burkina Faso also has a “high” travel security risk. The FCO advise against all travel to: all areas of the country north of the town of Boulsa, within 40km of the western border with Mali Sahel and Est regions (including the W and Arly National Parks and their contiguous reserves and hunting areas),Koulpélogo province in Centre-Est region.
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of Burkina Faso, including the capital Ouagadougou.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Burkina Faso, including Ouagadougou.
Sierra Leone has a “medium” travel security risk despite its high travel medical risk.
The FCO do not advise against going to the African country. They state: “Most visits to Sierra Leone are incident free, but a small number of incidents have been reported of British nationals being robbed, sometimes at knife-point.”
Neighbouring Liberia also has a “medium” travel security risk and no warning from the FCO.
Protests and demonstrations do take place in Monrovia on occasion and terrorists are “likely” to try to carry out attacks in Liberia, according to the FCO.
Guinea-Bissau has a “medium” travel security risk. The African country “suffers from political instability,” according to the FCO.
“You should exercise a high degree of caution should you decide to travel to Guinea-Bissau,” they added.
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