Post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder

After experiencing a traumatic event it is normal to experience shock and anxiety. In this article, we are going to discuss post-traumatic stress disorder, the reactions to traumatic attacks and the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

What is post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD is your body’s reaction to traumatic shocking events that leaves you feeling unsafe and helpless, potentially putting your life at risk. Although PTSD varies from person to person, it is congenial to say that PTSD is mostly caused by traumatic incidents such as war, assault, rape, car crash, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, catastrophes and kidnapping to name a few. The effects of post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD  can be complex and may last longer than expected.

The symptoms of PTSD may only start showing hours or days after the traumatic even occurred. Symptoms of PTSD can be broken down in three categories:

Re-experiencing symptoms – these symptoms include reliving the trauma over again through flashbacks, bad dreams and frightening thoughts.
Avoidance – these symptoms include staying away from events or environments that may trigger the memory of the traumatic event. They also include feeling emotionally numb, strong guilt, depression and worry, and finally, losing interest in activities you once found enjoyable and having trouble remembering dangerous events.
Hyper-arousal – these symptoms include being easily startled, feeling tense or edgy, having difficulty sleeping and having angry outbursts.

Risk factors of PTSD may include (but are not limited to):
• Having a history of mental illness
• Living through dangerous and traumatic events
• Having no social support after the occurrence of the event
• Feeling extreme fear

Resilience factors that may help reduce the risk of PTSD include:
• Seeking support from close friends and family or otherwise professional help
• Different coping strategies such as getting through the event and learning from it
• Finding support groups that can assist you with your ordeal
• Being able to cope and react without fear

In our H.E.A.T course we cover a module on Post-traumatic stress disorder as part of our 2 Day Kidnap Mitigation course.

BOOK YOUR COURSE TODAY and learn how to deal with traumatic stress disorder in hostile environments.


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Cultural Sensitivities and differences in Africa

Here are some of the most important cultural sensitivities and differences in Africa to consider whilst travelling on business.

According to An “Most people are aware of some cultural differences and sensitivities when doing business globally, but not of how widespread they are. For example, when doing business in the Middle East, one should never show the bottom of one’s foot. In Japan, be sure to accept a business card with both hands and understand that the word “no” is rarely ever heard in a business meeting.”

When conducting a business it is important to consider the medium in which you conduct your business, such as communication done via the internet, as it is advised that you communicate verbally effective with your international counterparts. It is also advised that you refrain from using slang and idiomatic phrases in order to ensure that there is clear understanding between you and your counterparts.

Cultural sensitivities vary in the African continent, however, they remain crucial and necessary to implement and understand.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe:
President Robert Mugabe has been the nation of Zimbabwe’s president for more than 24 years and is widely known for his extreme governance of his country. When South African renowned music band Freshly Ground was banned from performing in Zimbabwe, it rang alarms in the cultural sensitivities of Zimbabwe’s Authorities. The band which is formed by South Africans, Zimbabweans and Mozambicans and has a huge pan-African fan-base was banned following a video they released that allegedly portrays a “spitting image-style of the ageing president Robert Mugabe as a chicken afraid to relinquish power.” Zimbabwe reportedly has a law that forbids people to make anecdotes about the president.

Anti-gay laws in Africa:
Although not all African countries have officially passed the anti-gay law, the majority of the African nation is extremely sensitive when it comes to homosexuality. In recent news, Uganda has been in hot water and overly criticized worldwide for passing the anti-gay law act. The anti-homosexuality law act was officially passed by the parliament of Uganda on 20 December 2013 with a life in prison sentence to those found guilty of the “crime’. According to The Guardian, “Uganda has suffered an alarming rise in attacks on gay and lesbian people since it passed an anti-homosexuality law late last year, research has found”. Persons found guilty of violating the act are subjected to mob violence, homes burned down, blackmail, lost jobs, arrests, and evictions and suicide.

The Guardian recorded that a report compiled by Sexual Minorities Uganda, detailed a number of recorded incidents had increased tenfold. At least 25 people were reported to have fled Uganda, seeking asylum in neighbouring Kenya and Rwanda. The report also recorded violent 162 incidents since the legislation was passed by parliament.  However, Uganda is not the only African country practising this harsh punishment. Leading Nigerian authors’ including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Jackie Kay have voiced their opinion and condemn the draconian new anti-gay law in Nigeria.

Other countries that have been reported as being anti-gay but have not officially passed a punishable law or have a less severe punishment, include Zambia, Cameroon, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tunisia, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Ghana, Morocco, Liberia, Malawi, Libya, Kenya, Algeria. Ethiopia is expected to pass a severe anti-gay bill, while the Zimbabwean government has carried out anti-homosexuality campaigns since 1995. In other cases, countries such as South Africa are liberal when it comes to homosexuality and sexual orientation and have even legalised gay marriage across the nation.

How do you protect your homosexual key personnel working in Africa?
Islamic Laws in Africa:
The Islam religion is spread wide across African countries and has been so since the early 7th Century, making Africa the largest Islam continent outside of Arabia. Islam in Africa has been forced to be reshaped by the ever changing social, economic and political conditions in Africa, however, it remains resilient in many African countries.

In Egypt, Islam is predominantly practised across the whole nation, specifically in the major city of Cairo. With a population of approximately 81.7 million people, with 94% of the population being Muslim and the 6% Coptic Christian. With the Egyptian state pressing its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, it is important to be aware of the rules that govern the Islam beliefs when traveling to Egypt, such as covering your full body as a woman walking the streets of Cairo.

In Nigeria, the nation is plagued by a great deal of different religious group with 50% being Islam, 40% Christian and 10% has indigenous beliefs. In recent news, the Nigerian insurgency, Boko Haram (which means Western education is forbidden), has shattered news all across the world after abducting more than 200 girls for over a month. Although a great number of Islamists groups have come out in protests denouncing Boko Haram as Islam, Boko Haram revealed in their recent video that they have now converted all the abducted girls into Muslim.

In very recent news, a Sudanese woman has been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam and marrying a Christian man. Meriam Yehya Ibrahim was charged for allegedly committing apostasy for leaving Islam and becoming a Christian by a court in Khartoum. The heavily 8 months pregnant woman was also sentenced to a 100 lashes for marrying a non-Muslim man. The woman was given 3 days to recant but after refusing to return to Islam, she was sentenced to be hanged to death.

How do you train and protect your key personnel working in Africa on cultural sensitivities?

DOWNLOAD our H.E.A.T manual and learn more about the different cultural sensitivities in Africa.


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Kidnapping in Africa

Kidnapping in Africa is one of the biggest threats to key-personnel working in Africa. Here are some of kidnapping scenarios, statistics and hot zones in Africa.

According to The Liberty White paper Series on Kidnap, Ransom and Extortion, “Africa has experienced a significant increase in kidnappings for both political reasons and financial gain in recent years. Kidnap events in West Africa and parts of central Africa, where many foreign mining and oil companies operate, are common.”

Nation Master reported that in 2006 and the years before the results for kidnapping in some African countries were:
• South Africa – 6.65% in 2004
• Swaziland – 8.61% in 2006
• Tunisia – 5.77% in 2006
• Zimbabwe – 1.58% in 2006
• Algeria – 0.44 in 2006
• Morocco – 0.27 in 2006

In recent news:
• According to World News Report, “Outbreaks of violence in Kidal, Mali has killed at least one government security official, injured civilians and UN peacekeepers, and resulted in the seizure of government buildings and taking of hostages”.
• Nigeria’s militant Islamist group Boko Haram has been described by the USA president Barack Obama as the most dangerous terrorist organization. Boko Haram has caused havoc in Nigeria through bombings, assassinations and now the abduction of more than 200 school girls. It has been over a month now that Boko Haram has kidnapped more than 200 Chibok girls and has forced them to convert to Islam as well as threatened to sell some.
The Liberty White paper series reported that “Militant groups and criminal gangs are expanding their activities leading to a higher frequency of kidnappings across a widening geographic area”. The report also stated the following:
• Al Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for an attack on a uranium mine in central Niger, September 2010, where seven foreign executives were taken hostage. Four remained in captivity and are believed to be held in northern Mali. The French military have been used to track down and rescue the hostages.
• Since 2008, AQIM have taken more than 25 foreign hostages, a number of whom remain in captivity. AQIM alone have reportedly collected over US$70 million in ransom payments from 2006 to 2011.

The Liberty White papers suggests that “employers are responsible for the welfare and safety of their personnel. While most companies have detailed risk mitigation strategies in place, kidnappings are not always avoidable”. Those most at risk of kidnappings include foreign employees of multinational companies (particularly in the mining, oil and construction sectors), non-government (NGO) staff, tourists and foreign diplomats have also been targets.
Country profiles according to The Liberty White paper:

Eight countries in West and Central Africa:

1. Nigeria: Fighting kidnapping on two fronts

Risk: Very high
Hot spots: Niger Delta and northern Nigeria
Targets: Mining, oil, transportation and construction workers.
Locations: Workplace, (including offshore), hotels and in transit.

2. Mali: Northern Mali is a base for al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb

Risk: Very high
Hot spots: Northern Mali but very high throughout the country.
Targets: All foreigners are at risk.
Locations: Public locations, hotels and in transit.

3. Mauritania: A lack of security provides kidnappers with greater opportunity.

Risk: Very high
Hot spots: Nouakchott, south-east and eastern Mauritania.
Targets: All foreigners are at risk.
Locations: In transit and public locations.

4. Niger: Increasing threat on the northern border with Mali

Risk: Very high
Hot spots: Niger-Mali border region, Arlit
Targets: Mining and construction workers
Locations: Workplace, hotels and transit

5. Burkina Faso: Increasing threat on the northern border with Mali

Risk: Medium
Hot spots: Northern Burkina Faso
Targets: Militants are seeking to identify foreign targets
Locations: Unknown

6. Ghana: Scams can lead to kidnapping and extortion

Risk: Low
Hot spots: None identified
Targets: None identified
Locations: None identified

7. Guinea: Monitor events in Mali for change

Risk: Low
Hot spots: None identified
Targets: None identified
Locations: None identified

8. Democratic Republic of Congo: Mining workers likely to become targets as industry expands.

Risk: High
Hot spots: Kinshasa, Kivu and other north eastern border regions.
Targets: Currently NGO workers, potential for mining and oil workers
Locations: Workplace, residence and in transit
Republic of Congo: Security issues in the DRC often spill over into the Congo, therefore the kidnapping risks are low.

During our H.E.A.T Kidnap Mitigation course, we teach you how to recognize a potential kidnapping threat and also, how to survive if captured.

DOWNLOAD our H.E.A.T manual today and read about Kidnap Mitigation course.


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Conflict zones and terrorism in African countries

Africa is a continent in conflict. Here is a list and description of some of the most gruesome terrorism in African countries.

The Sectarian Violence in Central African Republic (CAR)

Following an Alliance of Muslim rebel groups from the north of Central African Republic united in March 2013 to overthrow a government that has ruled CAR for a decade, the rebels known as Seleka were quickly derided by Christian groups in Bangui, the capital of CAR, after the rebel groups went on a rampage of looting, randomly raping and killing non-combatants.

The Sectarian violence against Muslim in the capital city started when Christian groups accused Muslim groups of allegedly cooperating with the Muslim rebel government that has since stepped aside leaving the leadership of the country in the hands of former Bangui mayor Catherine Samba-Panza as interim president.

Central African Republic is a predominately Christian country and only has a substantial number of Muslim groups across the country specifically to the north near the boarders of Chad and Sudan where Muslim groups are large in numbers. Even though some Muslims have bonds in the neighbouring countries of Chad and Sudan and have since fled to these countries, some of them have been living in CAR for many years. In 2014, thousands of people still remain in hiding and thousand other are effectively restrained and completely unable to escape the terrorist attacks.

The Sudan-South Sudan Boarder War

After 22 years in civil war with each other, Sudan and South Sudan finally ended their long term feud over oil-rich regions when the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement was reinforced making it the longest running civil war in Africa. The war over the control of oil-rich regions and fair distribution of power and wealth amongst the Sudanese population took millions of lives.
With high diversity ethnically and linguistically, South Sudan attained independence in 2011 under the leadership of South Sudanese politician Salva Kirr Mayardit, making it the first new country in Africa after Eritrea part from Ethiopia in 1993, however the two countries still remain bound together by their oil shared industry.

The Libya civil war violence

Located at the top of North Africa with the open boarders of Tunisia and Egypt, Libya is a country to be reckoned with. Shaped by ancient Roman and Greek conurbations and the fine sandy African Sahara, Libya is no doubt one of Africa’s greatest magnetisms. With a population of 6.3 million Libyans and Arabic speaking, making the majority of the population is Islam. This great land attained its independence in 1951 and with the discovery of oil in 1959 Libya was fast transformed into the one of the rapidly growing economies in the world at the time. However, for more than 40 years the evolving African country was lead and governed by Muammar Muhammad Abu Minya al Gaddafi.

Well-known to the world as Colonel Gaddafi, this charismatic frontrunner was not only the state of the head of Libya but as well as the controller of the armed forces during the revolution of 1969.  For countless years Gaddafi had been under fire from the Western Intelligence regarding his leadership style and the numerous terrorists attacks that left many families distraught and many more dead in the mid 80’s. In 2011 tensions and rebellion erupted in Libya which rapidly formed what was known as the Libya Civil War. The eminent turmoil was formed by various militias such as guerrillas and Islamists who all came together in the pursuit of overthrowing their four decade leader Gaddafi.

This bloody war and terrorist acts claimed lives of hundreds of civilians and left some wounded and imprisoned. After military interventions by the American and European forces Gaddafi remained unmoved. His resistance even defeated attempts of mediation efforts by South African president Jacob Zuma, Gaddafi insisted he would keep on fighting. Unfortunately for Gaddafi, his undying defiance saw many UN nations open attack on him and defying and condemning him on the grounds of human rights violations. Gaddafi was later captured and killed after a long civil war, leaving Libya still at war between the militias who fought against Gaddafi. This unfortunate uprising warfare is now known as the Libya Post-civil war.

When sending your corporate key personnel on business to Africa, make sure that you fulfil your duty of care by equipping them with the skills and knowledge of how to survive in Africa. Our H.E.A.T courses cover topics on terrorism and how to survive in such hostile environments while travelling in Africa.

Request information on our H.E.A.T courses today and also

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