The COVID-19 pandemic poses unprecedented challenges to fragile states' internal political and economic conditions. It is expected to trigger a spike in kidnap for ransom activity in countries where that crime is already common.
In some cases, the pandemic is being used as a smokescreen for ongoing and increasing geopolitical friction in countries such as Nigeria, Libya, Yemen, Venezuela, and Mexico. Increased unrest due to a disruption in the flow of humanitarian aid, peace operations, and diplomacy as a result of travel restrictions may exacerbate the threat.
In other areas of the world, the frequency of kidnap for ransom is likely to increase in regions and countries where the crime is largely opportunistic, as in South America, or in areas of the world in which large segments of the working class fail to find alternative income, such as in sub-Saharan Africa.
Finally, expect an increase in areas where militant groups will use the pandemic as a distractor for their political agenda, such as in Yemen, Syria and in the Sahel region of Africa. "COVID-19: Impact on Kidnap for Ransom Activity" www.securitymagazine.com (Apr. 13, 2020).