Study: African nations are among the most dangerous 2020 travel destinations


The latest version of the Travel Risk Map developed by International SOS names a number of African countries among the world’s most dangerous places to travel in 2020.

The Central African Republic, Libya, Mali, Somalia and South Sudan are all listed as extreme travel security risks – the most severe category. While the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Nigeria are listed as high travel security risks, the second most severe category. Parts of Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Niger and Mauritiana are also listed as high security risks, making Africa the most dangerous region in the world for travel in 2020.

African nations among the most dangerous in 2020

International SOS aims to provide security and emergency insights for travellers and mobile workers. Its interactive Travel Risk Map allows anyone to type in a destination around the world to access a risk profile.

There are nine countries listed as extreme travel risks for 2020, the most serious category in the study. These are:

  1. Syria
  2. Iraq
  3. Yemen
  4. Somalia
  5. South Sudan
  6. Libya
  7. Central African Republic
  8. Mali
  9. Afghanistan

International SOS also provides data for regions, cities and smaller areas, allowing travellers to get risk profiles for specific locations, such as business trips to Singapore or layovers in Istanbul.

As the screenshot above shows, Africa is the most dangerous region in the world for travel in 2020 with areas in Ethiopia, Kenya and various other countries across the continent being ranked as extreme travel risks.

Meanwhile, Europe remains the safest region in the world for travel with Andorra, Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway, Slovenia and Switzerland all being classed as insignificant travel security risks.

How does the ranking determine travel risks?

The International SOS Travel Risk Map ranks the travel safety of countries and cities around the world. The map grades locations for three risks: security, medical and road safety.

For rating the security status of locations, International SOS groups them into one of five categories:

  1. Insignificant travel security risk (green)
  2. Low travel security risk (yellow)
  3. Medium travel security risk (orange)
  4. High travel security risk (red)
  5. Extreme travel security risk (crimson)

The organisation provides the following definitions for each category, which you can find on its website.

  • Insignificant travel security risk: Rates of violent crime are very low. There is no significant political violence or civil unrest and little sectarian, communal, racial or targeted violence against foreigners. Security and emergency services are effective and infrastructure is sound. Transport services are of a high standard with good safety records and only occasional travel disruption. Industrial action affecting essential services is rare.
  • Low travel security risk: Violent crime rates are low and racial, sectarian or political violence or civil unrest is uncommon. If terrorism is a threat, groups have limited operational capabilities, and acts of terrorism are rare. Security and emergency services are effective and infrastructure is sound. Industrial action and transport disruption are infrequent.
  • Medium travel security risk: Periodic political unrest, violent protests, insurgency and/or sporadic acts of terrorism occur. 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.
  • High travel security risk: 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.
  • Extreme travel security risk: 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 travel security risk rating evaluates the combined threat of political violence (including terrorism, insurgency, politically motivated unrest and war); social unrest; and violent and petty crime.

The travel medical risk assesses a range of health issues, including: infectious diseases, environmental factors, medical evacuation data, the standard of emergency medical services and access to quality pharmaceutical supplies.

Road safety risks are calculated by the number of road deaths per 100,000 people.

The Central African Republic, Libya, Somalia and South Sudan each score in the worst category for all three risk evaluations.

The Travel Risk Map was published alongside the Ipsos MORI Business Resilience Trend Watch survey of more than 1,300 business travel decision-makers.

Featured image: International SOS

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.