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Nigeria Travel Advice and Warnings: Kidnapping Of A French National In Northern Cameroon, Near Nigerian Border 14 November 2013

Around 117,000 British nationals visit Nigeria each year. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel to Nigeria. Make sure your policy covers you for the type of travel you’re proposing to undertake.

Boko Haram have issued a statement claiming responsibility for the kidnapping of a French national in northern Cameroon, near the Nigerian border, on 14 November 2013.

In May 2013 the Nigerian government declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. Military operations against Boko Haram are ongoing in these states. Retaliatory attacks following these operations have occurred and more are likely. Ansaru has carried out a number of kidnap attacks in Nigeria. Boko Haram held hostage a family taken from neighbouring Cameroon. There is a heightened threat of kidnap due to Nigeria’s support for the military intervention in Mali. Recent attacks have occurred in the north, but could occur anywhere in Nigeria:

  • a British construction worker, held hostage in Nigeria, is believed to have been killed, together with six other foreign nationals. Ansaru claimed responsibility for the abduction of all 7 in Bauchi state on 16 February 2013;
  • in December 2012 a French national was kidnapped in Katsina State, reportedly from a residential compound. Ansaru claimed responsibility for the attack: he subsequently escaped on 17 November 2013;
  • in February 2013, 7 French tourists were kidnapped in Cameroon, near the Nigeria border. They are believed to have been held in Nigeria by Boko Haram and were released on 18 April 2013;
  • in 2012 a Lebanese national was kidnapped in Kaduna State. His Lebanese colleague was killed during the abduction;
  • in January 2012 a German national was kidnapped in Kano and killed in the city on 31 May 2012
  • in May 2011 a British national and an Italian national were kidnapped together in Kebbi State. Both hostages were killed in Sokoto on 8 March 2012. Ansaru are believed to have been responsible for their deaths.

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.

Boko Haram

Boko Haram is an Islamist extremist group in Nigeria that has been proscribed by the UK as a terrorist organisation. The group aspires to establish Islamic law in Nigeria, to destabilise the Nigerian government and to remove western influence from the country. The group has been widely linked with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Boko Haram regularly mounts attacks in northern Nigeria. The majority of attacks occur in the north east, particularly in Borno and Yobe states where Boko Haram’s operating base is.

There has, however, been a significant number of attacks in other Nigerian states and further attacks could occur anywhere. Attacks primarily target Nigerian government and security institutions, police stations and places of worship. Public places and international interests have also been targeted.

In August 2011, Boko Haram launched an attack against the United Nations building in Abuja killing 23 people. Further attacks against western interests are possible.



Floods And Typhoons Are The Biggest Weather Risks In Eastern Asia

Eastern Asia has been hard hit by weather-related loss events in the past three decades. Their number has increased by more than a factor of four, causing overall losses from weather-related events of some US$ 700bn during this period.

The insured losses of US$ 76bn amounted to only around 10% of overall losses, with 62% of these attributable to Japan. Floods caused 56% of the overall losses in Eastern Asia, but only 30% of insured losses. The number of floods has increased strongly and is expected to increase further in the coming decades.

With insured losses of US$ 16bn, the 2011 Thailand floods caused the biggest-ever weather-related insured loss in the region. After floods, it is typhoons that cause the greatest weather-related losses. New analyses indicate a clear cycle of activity for typhoons, and increased typhoon activity is expected over the coming years. The last 33 years have seen a significant increase in losses from weather-related events in Eastern Asia. This is borne out by Munich Re NatCatSERVICE's data since 1980, which were analysed for Munich Re's publication "Severe Weather in Eastern Asia".

This publication was written by Munich Re experts and renowned international guest authors from a variety of disciplines. The study focuses on the eight countries of Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Ludger Arnoldussen, Munich Re Board member responsible for Asia-Pacific region: "Typhoon Haiyan, which swept across the Philippines on 8 November, has caused a terrible human catastrophe. It underlines how important analyses and a deep understanding of these weather phenomena are. Governments and insurers need to develop risk-minimisation strategies in order to reduce the number of victims and losses in the future."

With the exception of Japan, the countries analysed in this study will continue to be inadequately insured against weather risks in the years to come. At the same time, however, the loss potentials are set to increase drastically as values rise. Insurers in particular can provide solutions to effectively manage weather-related risks.

Successful examples of this can be found in the form of public-private partnerships, which help to increase insurance penetration or cover state assets such as infrastructure. Nearly half (45%) of all weather-related events in the period under consideration were floods, followed by storms (39%) and forest fires, heatwaves and droughts (16%).

A total of 120,000 people have lost their lives since 1980 as a result of these weather catastrophes, 57% from flooding alone, 39% from storm events. Four of the five costliest weather-related catastrophes are also attributable to floods. At US$ 393bn, floods accounted for 56% of overall losses, followed by storms with overall losses of US$ 233bn (34%).

Peter Höppe, Head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research unit, comments: "There is no region of Eastern Asia that is immune to the threat of flooding. The reasons for the strong increase in losses from weather catastrophes like floods are primarily socio-economic factors such as continued strong economic growth and the resultant increase in values in exposed regions. Urban agglomerations in coastal regions and rapidly expanding industrial parks located in river deltas are particularly at risk."

The greatest weather threat after flooding comes from typhoons, which are among the most loss-intensive weather events. Their greatest threat is to urban conurbations in Eastern Asia, especially in Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines, and the burgeoning megacities of Eastern China. The occurrence of typhoons is influenced by periodic climate fluctuations, with phases lasting some 30 years.

"In the last ten years, typhoon activity has been below the long-term mean level. Extrapolating these cycles into the future, we expect a phase of higher typhoon activity in the next few years", says Höppe.

Here is a brief description of significant weather-related events that have caused major losses:

Japan is primarily affected by typhoons, torrential rainfall and flooding. With an overall loss of US$ 10bn, Typhoon Mireille in 1991 was one of the biggest storms ever to hit Japan. Typhoon Songda in 2004 caused overall losses of some US$ 9bn. In both cases, flooding was a major source of losses.

South Korea is affected by torrential rainfall and typhoons. Super Typhoon Maemi in 2003 remains the strongest storm ever to hit the country, with an overall loss of US$ 4.8bn.

China is severely threatened by weather catastrophes, in particular flooding, typhoons and hail but also heatwaves and sand storms. The worst weather catastrophe in China's history remains the flooding of the Yangtze and Songhua Rivers in 1998 with more than 4,000 fatalities and an overall loss of more than US$ 30bn.

Taiwan is particularly exposed to typhoons, hail and flood. Typhoon Morakot in August 2009 was one of the costliest storms in the country's history with an overall loss of US$ 3.4bn.

Floods pose the greatest weather risk in Thailand. The 2011 flood was the costliest natural catastrophe ever to hit the country and the most expensive flood catastrophe worldwide, with overall losses of US$ 43bn.

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