British tourist, visitor and resident deaths in Africa: 325 people in 12 months out of more than 3 million British visitors

Below are the full country-by-country breakdowns of the African figures broken out of the FCO’s recent “British Behaviour Abroad” report. As explained in previous posts, the original published report contained very broad-brush data. I wanted to have the real figures, so have been pestering the press office for the last few weeks. To their credit, after initial reservations, the FCO had a change of heart and I eventually received all my requests.

I haven’t included suicides (there were 104 of those, worldwide).

As consular assistance isn’t a legal requirement, the figures below are likely to be slightly weighted towards unknown causes and accidents and away from natural causes in which friends and family might organise repatriation themselves, especially in the case of residents. For the same reason, there’s probably some under-reprorting of deaths by natural causes, especially from countries with large British resident communities.

It’s perhaps surprising and reassuring that so many African countries (26) recorded no British deaths at all over the cause of the year – and these naturally tend to be the countries with the fewest visitors – but it is worth bearing in mind that deaths occurring in countries with no British consular representation might be reported via the British embassy in a neighbouring country.

I don’t think the apparent variations in the table below in the numbers of deaths compared with the number of visitors and residents (Zambia, for example, seems to have a high rate) are statistically significant: they’re just too small. But maybe a statistician could offer a bit of further analysis.

The overall “death rate” of Brits in Africa, just under 0.01%, is around a hundred times lower than the 0.9% UK annual mortality rate – in line with what you’d expect from short average stays and the fact that most people are healthy when they travel.

Okay, I’m done with this series of posts. I think it establishes that the risks of travel in Africa are not out of line with the risks of travelling (or indeed just staying at home and not travelling) anywhere. And, at the very least, getting all these previously unpublished figures from the FCO exposes the very small true number of Britons who lose their lives – most it would seem in the usual sad, accidental or inevitable way that people generally go, and not through some horrific attack.

As ever, feedback is welcome.

Abbreviations: sorry about the need for this, couldn’t figure out how to fit the table across the WordPress layout.

Tot: Total

N: Natural

U: Unknown

A: Accident

M: Murder

Vis.: British visits

Res.: British residents

<: less than

Tot N U A M Vis.* Res.**
Egypt 77 49 25 3 0 1M 14,000
S. Africa 58 26 11 17 4 500,000 215,000
Zambia 24 22 0 2 0 50,000 6,000
Gambia 18 5 13 0 0 70,000 1,500
Kenya 18 6 10 2 0 200,000 33,000
Morocco 18 15 3 0 0 300,000 3,000
Zimbab. 17 16 0 1 0 30,000 9,000
Nigeria 15 7 5 2 1 90,000 19,000
Tunisia 12 8 3 1 0 280,000 1,000
Ghana 11 3 7 1 0 40,000 7,000
Sierra Leone 6 4 0 2 0 5,000 2,000
Tanzania 6 2 2 2 0 60,000 6,000
Angola 5 2 3 0 0 20,000 700
Uganda 5 1 2 2 0 40,000 2,500
DRC 4 1 0 3 0 3,000 400
Ethiopia 4 1 2 1 0 20,000 1,300
Malawi 4 4 0 0 0 60,000 7,400
Mauritius 4 3 0 0 1 105,000 800
Senegal 4 2 2 0 0 10,000 200
Botswa. 3 3 0 0 0 25,000 5,000
Camer. 3 1 1 0 1 5,000 300
Libya 2 1 0 1 0 5,000 3,600
Rwanda 2 0 1 1 0 20,000 100
Sudan 2 0 1 1 0 10,000 1,300
Moz. 1 0 1 0 0 60,000 1,400
Namibia 1 0 1 0 0 40,000 1,700
Seych. 1 0 1 0 0 15,000 1,800
Algeria 0 0 0 0 0 10,000 600
Benin 0 0 0 0 0 5,000 <100
Burkina Faso 0 0 0 0 0 5,000 <100
Burundi 0 0 0 0 0 5,000 <100
C. Verde 0 0 0 0 0 60,000 <100
Central African Republic 0 0 0 0 0 2,000 <100
Chad 0 0 0 0 0 <1,000 <100
Comor. 0 0 0 0 0 1,000 <100
Congo Rep. 0 0 0 0 0 3,000 <100
Côte d’Ivoire 0 0 0 0 0 5,000 <100
Djibouti 0 0 0 0 0 2,000 <100
Eq. Guin. 0 0 0 0 0 <1,000 <100
Eritrea 0 0 0 0 0 <1,000 <100
Gabon 0 0 0 0 0 3,000 <100
Guinea 0 0 0 0 0 3,000 <100
Guinea-Bissau 0 0 0 0 0 <1,000 <100
Lesotho 0 0 0 0 0 5,000 350
Liberia 0 0 0 0 0 3,000 <100
Madagas. 0 0 0 0 0 10,000 300
Mali 0 0 0 0 0 5,000 <100
Mauritan. 0 0 0 0 0 5,000 <100
Niger 0 0 0 0 0 <1,000 <100
São T. & Prin. 0 0 0 0 0 <1,000 <100
Somalia 0 0 0 0 0 <1,000 <100
Swazi. 0 0 0 0 0 25,000 2300
Togo 0 0 0 0 0 <1,000 <100
Totals 325 182 94 42 7 3.22M 350,000

*Source for visitor numbers estimates: World Tourism Organisation

*Source for local British residents: BBC

Posted in Murder, Safety, Security, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Surprised 2174 Brits died abroad of “unknown causes” in 2010: new figures from the FCO

More data from the FCO, going into further detail about the figures published in their “British Behaviour Abroad” report, covering consular activity between March 2010 and March 2011. It took so long to get a breakdown of the 62 murders that I was expecting to have to wait longer for these further reports. But each time I’ve subsequently made a new request from the press office, I’ve received an email with the figures almost the same day.

“Cause of death: unknown” accounts for 2174 British visitors and local British residents. It’s a big number, but perhaps one shouldn’t deduce anything suspicious about it.  The biggest numbers seem to be in countries with big British resident populations, and here I’m told it’s not uncommon for the British embassy to be told about the death but not be given any further information.

For anyone who thinks this interest in accidents, murder and death is a touch morbid, I should point out it that it has been prompted by the widespread attention to the supposed dangers of travelling in many parts of Africa. I’m interested in correcting what I believe is a mistaken impression. It’s worth remembering that the ordinary annual “death rate” in the UK, through all causes, including illnesses associated with old age, is just under 1%. So some 500,000 Britons died in the UK in the same period.

This is all awfully British. . . If anyone has figures for other major tourist/visitor source countries, do get in touch.

In the next post, I’ll summarise all the figures for Africa. It turns out that in 26 African countries in 2010/11 not a single British visitor or resident died – of any cause.

Natural causes Cause of death: unknown
Afghanistan 1 0
Angola 2 3
Argentina 4 3
Australia 38 33
Austria 5 1
Bahrain 9 0
Bangladesh 2 3
Barbados 5 13
Belarus 1 0
Belgium 8 11
Belize 1 1
Bolivia 2 1
Botswana 3 0
Brazil 10 3
British Virgin Islands 0 1
Brunei 2 3
Bulgaria 16 10
Burma 0 1
Cambodia 1 10
Cameroon 1 1
Canada 30 13
Cayman Islands 1 1
Chile 2 1
China 24 19
Colombia 0 2
Congo DRC 1 0
Croatia 9 3
Cuba 1 10
Curacao 1 0
Cyprus 91 112
Czech Republic 13 1
Denmark 2 12
Dominican Republic 9 6
Egypt 49 25
Estonia 1 2
Ethiopia 1 2
Fiji 0 1
Finland 2 4
France 127 510
The Gambia 5 13
Georgia 0 1
Germany 292 172
Ghana 3 7
Greece 73 43
Guatemala 0 3
Hungary 2 2
Iceland 2 2
India 81 34
Indonesia 8 5
Iraq 1 0
Ireland 2 1
Israel 6 1
Italy 97 18
Jamaica 9 10
Japan 8 1
Jerusalem 0 1
Jordan 8 0
Kazakhstan 2 0
Kenya 6 10
Kuwait 5 2
Laos 0 1
Lebanon 3 0
Libya 1 0
Lithuania 1 0
Malawi 4 0
Malaysia 31 7
Malta 15 24
Mauritius 3 0
Mexico 8 3
Mongolia 0 1
Montenegro 1 0
Morocco 15 3
Mozambique 0 1
Namibia 0 1
Nepal 0 4
Netherlands 9 25
New Zealand 95 9
Nigeria 7 5
Norway 34 2
Oman 11 2
Pakistan 11 3
Peru 0 6
Philippines 62 1
Poland 7 17
Portugal 80 121
Qatar 1 2
Romania 5 2
Russia 5 2
Rwanda 0 1
Saudi Arabia 13 3
Senegal 2 2
Serbia 1 0
Seychelles 0 1
Sierra Leone 4 0
Singapore 20 6
Slovakia 1 1
Slovenia 1 0
Solomon Islands 1 1
South Africa 26 11
South Korea 2 2
Spain 1193 360
Sri Lanka 10 6
Sudan 0 1
Sweden 1 56
Switzerland 7 153
Tanzania 2 2
Thailand 209 91
Trinidad & Tobago 1 1
Tunisia 8 3
Turkey 82 22
Turkmenistan 1 0
Uganda 1 2
Ukraine 4 0
United Arab Emirates 46 14
USA 72 37
Venezuela 1 2
Vietnam 4 5
Yemen 1 1
Zambia 22 0
Zimbabwe 16 0
3246 2174


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Accidents abroad: Britons killed in Africa

Full marks to the FCO press office for getting back to me so quickly on my latest request to unpick the broad-brush data in their “British Behaviour Abroad” report – this time with a country-by-country breakdown of the 386 Britons who died accidentally between March 2010 and March 2011. The list is slightly oddly sorted, by number, but easy enough to scan.

The African figures amount to 42 people in 15 countries. Again, like the murder figures in my previous post, it seems a reassuringly small number considering the total number of visits by British passport-holders to all 59 African states and territories. And it’s the same proportion of the global total – 42 out of 386, or 11% – so there seems to be nothing intrinsically out of the ordinary about the safety of travel in Africa.

It’s worth pointing out that these figures include all British passport-holders, whether they stayed for a day or a year, including permanent residents – which presumably explains the relatively high figure from South Africa, home to a sizeable British community.

I don’t have up-to-date British visitor numbers for every country, but South Africa gets about 500,000 British visitors (and has more than 200,000 British residents) and Egypt more than 1 million visitors from the UK. Apart from Kenya, which receives around 200,000 British visitors, and has around 30,000 British residents, the other African countries below each host a few tens of thousands of Brits each year, or in some cases less.

Of course, it’s morbidly fascinating to compare the murder and accidental death figures. Globally, an average of one Briton is murdered abroad for every six who die accidentally. In Spain the ratio is less than 1 in 8, in South Africa it’s 1 in 4, while in Pakistan Brits are five times more likely to be murdered than to die accidentally (11 to 2). Can that really be true?

There’s probably nothing statistically valid about these observations as the numbers are too small, but they’re interesting none the less. And from the African travel perspective, the small numbers have to be good news.

Next FCO request:  a country-by-country breakdown of the 2174 “Deaths by Unknown Causes”. Now that seems a high figure.

Country Death – Accidental
Spain 59
Thailand 35
France 29
USA 22
South Africa 17
Germany 14
Greece 14
Australia 13
United Arab Emirates 13
Cyprus 11
Turkey 10
Switzerland 9
Portugal 7
India 6
New Zealand 6
China 4
Jordan 4
Malta 4
Peru 4
Serbia 4
Sri Lanka 4
Austria 3
Barbados 3
Brazil 3
Canada 3
Democratic Republic of Congo  3
Egypt 3
Ireland 3
Italy 3
Nepal 3
Netherlands 3
Saudi Arabia 3
Vietnam 3
Bahrain 2
Belgium 2
Denmark 2
Iraq 2
Jamaica 2
Kenya 2
Nigeria 2
Pakistan 2
Philippines 2
Romania 2
Sierra Leone 2
Sweden 2
Taiwan 2
Tanzania 2
Uganda 2
Zambia 2
Afghanistan 1
Bangladesh 1
Belize 1
British Virgin Islands 1
Bulgaria 1
Cayman Islands 1
Costa Rica 1
Dominican Republic 1
Ethiopia 1
Finland 1
Ghana 1
Hungary 1
Indonesia 1
Iran 1
Libya 1
Lithuania 1
Mexico 1
Montenegro 1
Norway 1
Poland 1
Rwanda 1
Singapore 1
Slovakia 1
St Lucia 1
Sudan 1
Trinidad & Tobago 1
Tunisia 1
Ukraine 1
Zimbabwe 1
Grand Total            386
Posted in Murder, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Britons murdered in Africa: very few indeed

At the beginning of this month the British foreign affairs department (the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, or FCO) released its annual roundup of “British Behaviour Abroad” covering all the cases of British passport holders needing consular assistance between March 2010 and March 2011.

I was interested to know how many of the 5972 Britons who died abroad were unlawfully killed. There are several comments at the end of the report referring to more detailed statistics, for example that 60% of the 347 Brits who died in Thailand died of natural causes – which means that 139 must have died of unnatural causes – and that British visitors to the Philippines appear to have the worst chance of returning alive. But apart from these glimpses, the FCO report offers no further breakdown of the cause of death.

By phoning the always helpful FCO press office a number of times over the last three weeks, I was finally given a bit more information.

The world total of 5972 British deaths is made up of:

Natural: 3246

Unknown: 2174

Accidental: 386

Suicide: 104

Murder: 62

I’m particularly interested to know more about the safety of travel in Africa and so I requested a breakdown by country of those 62 murders. At first I was told this wasn’t possible, “for reasons of data protection” (I can’t see what that has to do with it), but finally they sent me the following breakdown (this obviously does not include deaths in military service):

Pakistan: 11 murders

Spain: 7 murders

Philippines: 6 murders

South Africa: 4 murders

Afghanistan: 3 murders

Jamaica: 3 murders

USA: 3 murders

Canada: 2 murders

Germany: 2 murders

Ireland: 2 murders

Lebanon: 2 murders

Australia: 1 murder

Bangladesh: 1 murder

Cameroon: 1 murder

China: 1 murder

Cyprus: 1 murder

France: 1 murder

Guatemala: 1 murder

India: 1 murder

Kuwait: 1 murder

Mauritius: 1 murder

New Zealand: 1 murder

Nigeria: 1 murder

Panama: 1 murder

Saudi Arabia: 1 murder

Thailand: 1 murder

Trinidad & Tobago: 1 murder

United Arab Emirates: 1 murder

So in the year March 2010 to March 2011, seven British people were murdered on the African continent (4 in South Africa, 1 in Cameroon, 1 in Nigeria and 1 in Mauritius). I’m not going to look right now to see how that measures up against total British visitor numbers in the 59 countries and other territories that make up the continent, but it’s clearly a very small number indeed.

There’s a stack of data that people behind the scenes at the FCO seem unenthusiastic about releasing but I’m sure that none of it can lawfully be withheld and it would be in the public interest for all the data to be made available. I’m fascinated to know what lies behind 2174 “Unknown” causes of death, though some may be still under investigation, or simply have not been clearly attributed. But I’m now going to ask them for a country-by-country breakdown of the “Accidental” total.

Posted in Cameroon, Mauritius, Murder, Nigeria, Security, South Africa | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Improved security in the Sahel: military escorts dropped in northern Niger

This story about travelling in Niger, by the Xinhua press agency, “No more convoys under military escort in order to travel in the North”, is highly significant, if it’s entirely true. It says the routes radiating between Agadez and Arlit in the north, between Agadez and Abalak (on the route to Tahoua and Niamey) and between Agadez and Aderbissinat (en route to Zinder and Kano, Nigeria) are all open to the free movement of vehicles, without the need to travel in convoy with a military escort.

There’s enough detail about the fact that it was a “unilateral decision of the governor of the Agadez region”, about the “joy on the faces” of local people and especially businesses – which had been limited to one convoy every three days and who can now operate as they like – to make it sound completely credible, even though it comes as a surprise. The note about the authorities not recommending travel at night adds to the sense of normality. Interestingly, although the article refers to “the horrors” of the Tuareg rebellions, it makes no reference to AQIM (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), merely referring to “other forms of banditry”.

Presumably, travel to the south of these routes remains straightforward. What it means for the current safety of travel north of Arlit – to Assamakka and Algeria – or indeed northeast past the Ténére Tree and on to Bilma, I have no idea. I think you wouldn’t get a sense of that until you were actually in Agadez.

Posted in Agadez, AQIM, Niger, Security | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Rodrigues on the radio

A nice piece on Africa’s furthest-east territory, by Nick Redmayne. Will independence for Mauritius’s smaller island ever be feasible?

Rodrigues on iPlayer, 28 July 2011

Posted in Mauritius, Rodrigues | Leave a comment

KCB Safari Rally 2011 – take care on those roads!

The KCB Safari Rally happens this weekend and will basically clog up much of the route between Nairobi and Namanga in Kenya– ie the northern part of the road between Nairobi and Arusha in Tanzania.

If you’re heading for Amboseli, take the new road, which entails carrying on down the Mombasa highway to Emali and then turning south to Oloitokitok.

If you’re going by public transport (ie one of the big “shuttle” buses/coaches) from Nairobi to Arusha this weekend, or from Arusha to Nairobi, then check that your bus company has made provision for the various possible road blocks and delays that may occur en route.

If you’re doing any of these trips under your own steam, three words: set off early!

Safari njema!


Posted in Buses, Kenya, Roads, Tanzania | 3 Comments