Kidnappings: how save is Dahab?

The series of kidnappings in Sinai is not stopping since end of january.
How save is it really to visit Dahab?

The facts:

January 31st: Bedouins abduct a group of Chinese workers in Lehfen (northern Sinai) and demand the release of 5 comrades who were jailed for a 2004 bomb attack on the Red Sea holiday resort of Taba. All 25 hostages were freed, unharmed, after a day in captivity.

February 4: Two American women (60,65) are held in a short-lived kidnapping near Wadi Sa'al until Egyptian authorities negotiate their release a few hours later - for the release of 4 prisoners, according to bedouin sources. They report they were treated “nicely” by their captors, being served tea and dried fruit. Three other tourists in the convoy are robbed of their cell phones and wallets.

February 9: Bedouin tribesmen kidnapp 17 Egyptian police officers to protest the killing of one of their clan. After holding negotiations with tribal leaders, the kidnappers free the guards.

Februar 10: Bedouin tribesmen kidnapp three Korean women and their Egyptian translator. The gunmen intercept a tour bus at Wadi Firan, near the Saint Catherine monastery in central Sinai towards Sharm el-Sheikh. Twenty-seven other tourists on the bus but are not taken. The captor, Ali Dikheil, was imprisoned for drug and weapons crimes but broke out during the popular uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11, 2011. He is seeking the release of Salim Oda, who was arrested thursday morning after a failed attempt to rob a bank two days earlier in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Even though none of the involved persons was injured so far, the happenings leave a bad taste and raise questions about the overall security situation in Sinai.

What is the main problem?

According to an Al Jazeera article, Bedouin tribes with their nomadic traditions are subject to hostile policies, harassment and economic exclusion since decades. The security police in Hosni Mubaraks former Egypt viewed them as a consistent security threat, as smuggler, spy or terrorist. After the bombing in Taba in 2004, the Egyptian security services began mass arrests throughout North Sinai. Since August 2011, six months after Mubarak stepped down, the military launched Operation Eagle. The deployment of two Special Forces brigades should crack down on "militancy" and restore law and order to Sinai. A further 2,000 troops were deployed in December 2011. But the operation went off target: the continouus suppression is now escalating in a series of aggression - blocking of roads, kidnapping of policemen and tourists. Hopefully, egyptian authorities can find a way of cooperation with bedouin tribesmen in the near future.

How safe is Dahab?

None of the kidnappings took place between Sharm el Sheikh and Dahab - they happened in the north and central Sinai. The closest incident was the kidnapping of 2 US-women in Wadi Sa'al (see map). Until now, nobody was hurt.
The overall situation in Dahab is very quiet, no incidents were reported by our users and staff.
But of course the Sinai penninsula is in general not a safe place. Several bombings happened in Taba (2004), Sharm el Sheikh (2005) and Dahab (2006), see Terrorism in Egypt on Wikipedia.
Currently we advice to refrain from tours to St Cathrine and Colored Canyons.

The global scale: Kidnapping worldwide

Kidnapping worldwide: egypt number 76!

Here are some facts about global kidnapping: Nationmaster has collected kidnapping-statistics from around 80 countries around the globe. The information orginates from statististics by the local police. - If you can't find Egypt at a glance: its 79! The data is 5 years old, but please make the math: In egypt 2006 there were 16 cases of kidnapping reported (0.02 per 100.000 inhabitants of 80,3 Mio.). The 4 recent incidents at the beginning of the year summarize to an increase of +25% - this sounds horrible, but what does it really mean?
Turkey reported in 2006 around 14,84 cases on 100.000 inhabitants (74,4 Mio. inhabitants), summarizing up to 11.085 kidnappings in absolute numbers. And who is warning from visiting turkey? Excluding Canada, whose high numbers emerge from a special family law (children) you should also stay away from South Africa, Portugal, Tunisia, even Belgium and Switzerland, who have much higher kidnapping rates. Potential Top-scorers like USA, Mexico or Columbia are not even mentioned in the list.



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