In front of the Maldivian island of Girifushi, a German tourist was hit by a bullet during a boat trip. A ricochet of a military exercise hurt the 41-year-old fortunately not life-threatening. In Greece, two vacationers died when their camper was thrown in a hurricane over the beach at Sozopoli. And in Kenya, a twin-engined tourist plane collided with two wildebeests landing – the inmates were terrified.
All the accidents of the past few weeks, far from home, which may be unusual but happen. What is the risk of being injured while traveling by road, in the event of natural disasters or political turmoil, or to contract Ebola? And what does the medical care look like then?
These are issues that security service providers like Control Risks and International SOS are concerned with. With them companies secure their employees – with consultations, tracking and emergency evacuations.
"In 2019, the world has not become more insecure or safer," said Martin Bauer, Regional Security Manager of the two companies, which released the new version of the "Travel Risk Map" on Monday. Deep red and with extremely high security risks are marked on it countries like Yemen, Syria or Libya. The risk is high in Venezuela and parts of India, medium in Brazil and South Africa, low in Morocco and Germany, and insignificant in Slovenia or Denmark. (Click here for the interactive world map.)
14 Changes in the valuation on the Travel Risk Map would have been the same as in the previous year, says Bauer to SPIEGEL:
Nine upgrades in Africa alone: regions or cities in Libya, the Congo, Mozambique, Burkina Faso and border areas are now considered to be more risky, as are Honduras and Belize in Central America.
Nicaragua and parts of Mexico, on the other hand, have been downgraded. "In Guanajuato, for instance, the Mexican government has clearly opposed the drug mafia," says Bauer. "However, there are still corners in Mexico, where the gangs are very strongly represented, and protests by the militia against gangs are spreading rapidly."
In 2019, the protests in Hong Kong in particular caused many inquiries from corporate clients, says Bauer. In the city financial industry is located in many countries, accordingly many foreigners live there.
The tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran also remained in view: Will there be a major conflict? Are there any further attacks on oil plants? The situation "gives us a lot of work because many business travelers are there," says Bauer. Just as many natural disasters as hurricanes, fires and floods from the US to Europe to India.
What's coming 2020?
For 2020, the experts expect the natural catastrophes to increase, but the danger areas are difficult to predict. Politically, the security manager Martin Bauer expects these imponderables:
Election in the US: "The question of whether Donald Trump remains president or not, can impact not only on the US – for example through protests – but also around the world." The focus is on relations with the Middle East, North Korea and China.
Vulnerable to Islamist groups: "not only in the Middle East, but also in South and Southeast Asia, parts of the Sahel in Africa, and still in Europe." Although Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State, was killed by US special forces, The terrorist militant remains another threat, as does Al Qaeda, and we are also following the current conflict between the Palestinian 'Islamic Jihad' and Israel. "
Bolivia: "Although former President Evo Morales has resigned and is in exile in Mexico, the social unrest could lead to further protests in much of South America – similar to the Arab Spring."
Europe: International SOS "is following the political developments, especially those related to social unrest – for example due to climate protests, but also caused by identitarian movements in various European countries".
Russia: "In recent years, the country has become much more popular on the world stage, with Russia in northern Syria, where the US has withdrawn, being much more represented and trying to continue to operate in parts of the Middle East and parts of Africa. This not only affects the policies of the countries, but could also have some for travelers flying to Russia in part with Russian airlines. " Bauer recalls the Islamist attack on a Russian Airbus aircraft that flew back with travelers from Egypt.
Medical risks: heart attack more dangerous than terror
Although terrorist attacks such as those on the Sinai raise a lot of attention – but the risk of being affected is low. In stark contrast to the dangers that travelers themselves have with them: "If we look at our statistics, it is above all the so-called affluence diseases such as strokes, heart attacks, thromboses that cause us to evacuate patients," says Stefan Eßer , Medical Director Central Europe at International SOS. In addition, accidents in traffic, at work or at leisure.
"Patients do not get heart attacks because they travel, but statistically as they travel," he says. "The only difference is that if you're unlucky enough to have a heart attack, you're in better hands in Frankfurt than in Ouagadougou, where supplies are disastrous."
On the Travel Risk Map, factors such as health and rescue systems, availability of medicines in addition to the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria and cholera play a role in the assessment of medical risks.
For example, the risk of malaria in West Africa is very high, says Esser, who is always surprised how many people would need to work in Senegal, Congo or Mali. Often, however, the prophylaxis will not be carried out, the patients would then have to be flown out.
Ebola would break out again and again in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – however, few travelers are affected.
Overall, the experts see a spread of dengue fever. And even the Zika virus – but it is not confirmed whether infections are really more common or only the attention is higher, says Esser.
Significant improvements in health care systems in recent years sees the physician, for example, in Turkey, Tunisia and Morocco. Also in Algeria – so far classified with high medical risk – there are good private facilities at least in the cities in the north. "In Eastern European countries like Bulgaria and Romania we see a slow but steady increase in the last 10, 15 years," says Eßer.
Although there are also moderately or poorly served regions in Romania. But Eßer is impressed by a rescue system in the capital Bucharest. "The ambulances, for example, send ECGs via telemedicine to the university hospitals, so the chief emergency physician knows which cardiac problems will arrive at the clinic in the next 20 minutes and can organize rescue and personnel accordingly." That would be rare even in Germany.
The Travel Risk Map offers not only professional travelers and their employers a clue but also vacationers. However, some of these are sometimes exposed to higher risks because they move around the country and travel in less sheltered areas. Respectively, there are some countries in the world, in which you probably only travel, if you have to work there. The assessment of the German Foreign Office therefore deviates for some countries.