n Africa Insight - Hostage incident management : the dilemma of kidnap and ransom insurance for humanitarian aid workers

Volume 44, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


The number of hostage cases where aid workers are kidnapped has quadrupled since 2002. Today, this is the most common type of major attack against aid workers. Many international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) have successfully managed high-profile hostage crises, but there is still a considerable level of uncertainty about the way these crises were solved. Most INGOs do not have their own hostage negotiators, especially trained ones, and therefore rely on external assistance, usually through kidnap and ransom insurance. The topic of ransom payment is one of the less-talked-about aspects of INGO security management, but the issue is causing a rift in the INGO community. While some consider the payment of ransom to be a certain way of releasing staff, others believe that this will only encourage kidnapping in the future, thereby placing other members of the community at risk. It is also believed that it will fund terrorist activities. This article attempts to contribute to the literature pertaining to hostage-related crises for INGOs and in particular the issues surrounding the use of kidnap and ransom insurance.

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