Aussie mining professionals in Africa warned over increased risk of kidnapping

Published:  12 Jun at 6 PM
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Australian expats working in Africa’s Sahel region are being warned over a new terror frontline.

A good number of Australian mining companies are operating in the Sahel region and West Africa, thus attracting a good number of expat professionals from the home country. Sahel is a vast stretch of land south of the Sahara and stretching from west to east across the continent. It’s been known for some time that this mainly ungoverned space makes the perfect breeding ground for terrorist groups including Islamic State, Al Qaeda and more. It’s also known that, since the collapse of the so-called Islamic Caliphate in Syria and Iraq, militants have been fleeing to less-than-stable areas across Africa.

US analysts now suspect contagion is now likely to be spreading from West Africa to the Sahel and will eventually affect several of Africa’s more prosperous states such as Ghana, the Ivory Coast and Nigeria via insurgents’ travels to neighbouring Libya. As a result, the risk of Western and Australian expat workers being kidnapped by militants is on the increase. As late as last month, two French commandos were killed during a night raid to rescue four hostages – an American, two French and one South Korean.

Three years ago, Australian doctor Ken Elliott was kidnapped in Burkina Faso by members of Al Qaeda’s African Sahara group, with the likelihood of his still being alive slim at best. The doctor ran a small hospital in the region, is now 84 years old and is reputedly being held in a remote corner of the state where the Australian government has little if no influence. All told, some 190 Australian companies are running 590 exploration and mining projects across Africa, with Western and Aussie expats working in the Sahel now being warned over the increased likelihood of violence and kidnapping by terror groups.

In addition, experts believe that, should the terror networks not be kept in check, the threat to the West will increase exponentially. Critics are also slamming moves by Donald Trump to reduce the numbers of US troops in the region, calling the decision a grave mistake.
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