The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has updated its advice regarding kidnappings in Libya. Terrorist groups ‘routinely use kidnapping as a tactic and are capable of conducting kidnapping across borders.’ There is a ‘realistic possibility’ that criminal gangs and militias that kidnap people would sell the hostages to terrorists.

The Government continues to warn aid workers, journalists and business travellers that their work is not sufficient protection from the kidnap threat. People in these roles are seen as legitimate targets. The security situation has deteriorated significantly in Libya, with parts of the country regularly experiencing shelling, clashes between militia groups, and power outages. Air travel to and from Tripoli has been disrupted multiple times in recent weeks due to fighting.

Travel advice

From the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

There remains a continuing high threat of kidnap from criminal groups, armed groups and terrorist groups across the whole of Libya. Security precautions do not mitigate the threat.

Terrorist groups including Daesh, Al Qaeda and their affiliates routinely use kidnapping as a tactic and are capable of conducting kidnapping across borders. Terrorist groups within Libya have both intent and capability to carry out further kidnappings. It’s a realistic possibility that they will target foreign nationals. Criminal gangs also carry out kidnappings, and there’s a realistic possibility that they would sell hostages on to terrorist groups. Foreign nationals have been kidnapped in Libya in the last 12 months. Four foreign nationals were kidnapped in south-west Libya in November 2017 and most recently, 4 foreign nationals were kidnapped in south-east Libya in July 2018. See our Sahel page for information on the regional threat.

There is a threat of kidnapping by groups operating in North Africa, particularly from Libya, Mauritania and groups originating in the Sahel. This includes Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-IM) and Daesh-affiliated groups, who may travel across the region’s porous border. There is a heightened risk of kidnap in border and remote desert areas of North Africa. Terrorist groups have kidnapped foreigners, government officials and civilians in the region for financial gain and for political leverage. Further kidnaps are likely.

Those engaged in tourism, humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

If you do choose to travel to Libya against FCO advice, you should pay careful attention to your safety and security. Security precautions don’t remove the threat and FCO advice remains against all travel to the country.

from Travel Advice Summary, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/libya

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