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.


About Richard Trillo

I'm the author of Rough Guides to Kenya, Madagascar and West Africa, and co-author of Rough Guides to First-Time Africa and The Gambia. I was formerly editor of the African chapters of the Rough Guide to World Music. The blogs for Kenya, West Africa and First-Time Africa are a way for me to post news for readers and for readers to keep in touch with me and with info from other travellers, posting updates, news and comments. Or that's the idea. To be honest the blogs barely get any attention from me these days. I am the East Africa Manager at the safari tour operator Expert Africa and was previously a freelance writer, editor and PR consultant, and before that Director of Communications at the publisher Rough Guides.
This entry was posted in Cameroon, Mauritius, Murder, Nigeria, Security, South Africa and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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