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Talk:War zone safety

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Original discussion[edit]

Discussion moved from Travellers' pub:

Anyone think a "War zone safety" article could be useful? I imagine it could be geared toward people who have to travel to Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, or in an area around the cocaine plantations in Columbia. I could see it as covering the following topics: evasive driving, routine planning, planning for the trip, "in the field" precautions, and what to do if captured by an enemy (I could give the Pentagon a call and see what they recommend to armed services members and private contractors). - Andrew Haggard (Sapphire) 04:22, 11 June 2006 (EDT)

(I didn't realize Missouri was a drug-producing state... or did you mean Colombia? {smile}) I suppose an article of this sort could be useful, outlining some general advice, but because the specifics of each "war zone" can be very different, and the stakes involved (personal safety, international incidents), this is one area where I'd rather we do refer people to other guides, specifically to the folks who are in this business (i.e. one's local department/ministry of state).
Snort. Governmental travel advisories are useless exercises in covering ass, for anything approaching an actual war zone (eg. Somalia) they'll just tell you not to go there, and they'll try to do the same even for places that are orders of magnitude less dangerous (eg. Indonesia, where eg. North Sulawesi warrants "extreme caution" because a long-gone independence movement blew up something back in the 1960s).
Anyway, while I think this is a useful idea, hardcore travellers of this type are a pretty rare species. User:Davidbstanley is probably the closest we get to a Wikitravel's Dangerous Places kinda guy around here... Jpatokal 09:31, 11 June 2006 (EDT)
While they may do too much ass-covering, they at least know something about what they're talking about, which cannot be safely assumed about any given person editing a wiki... and I don't think we have the level of peer review here qualified on this subject to overcome that and create a credible article. (Heck, I could write a pretty credible-sounding article on this subject, but the closest I've been to a war zone is East Berlin in the 1980s or an AIDS demo at the White House in 1992.) It's one thing to take a tip from an unknown source about where to sleep or drink, but another to get advice from him on how to evade machine-gun fire or persuade your captors not to behead you. If the government isn't a good authoritative source to refer people to, then who is? (Not a rhetorical question.) - Todd VerBeek 10:34, 11 June 2006 (EDT)
People who've been there and done that, like the aforementioned User:Davidbstanley. I don't see this being all that much different from whether you can trust a Wikitravel restaurant recommendation for Geneva or Wikitravel's advice on which taxis are less likely to get you killed in Jakarta, and I doubt very many visitors would blindly heed Wikitravel advice to wear an orange windsock on your head and yell "BANG! BANG!" a lot when walking down city streets in a war zone.
The focus of travel advisories is telling people whether to go or not, they offer little if anything in the way of practical advice. (Maintain vigilant personal security precautions and remain aware of the continued potential for attacks? Gee, thanks, that helps!) While I agree that a detailed primer on personal safety in, say, Baghdad is beyond Wikitravel scope, I can see a need for a "travel in dodgy places" article that fuses and goes beyond Staying safe, Tips for travel in developing countries and Arriving in a new city, dealing with more mundane problems: shakedowns for bribes, finding transport that won't rob you, securing your hotel room against intruders, etc. Jpatokal 12:42, 11 June 2006 (EDT)
I was in Iran during their revolution when live ammunition was in use. Not an experience I'd recommend. I think anyone going to such areas voluntarily would have support — a gov't, NGO or company behind them, more experienced reporters to get tips from, local guides, etc. We probably cannot and should not try to compete.
I have been kicking myself ever since 1979 for not buying any of the (badly printed, overpriced) T-shirts that were around at the time. "Stay and die for BHI" (Bell Helicopter were a major employer), "I ran from Iran" with a yellow stripe down the back and my favorite, the State Dep't advice "Keep a low profile" printed on wall with bullet holes and someone peeking over the top. Pashley 11:53, 11 June 2006 (EDT)
I also still remember calling the Canadian embassy for advice at one point and hearing them ask "Isphahan, is that on the gulf?" That said, the same people did some good work a few months later helping get Americans out during the hostage crisis. Pashley 11:58, 11 June 2006 (EDT)
This is only an idea so if it isn't implemented, oh well. I came up with the idea after watching some documentary on tv about some business men going to combat preparation school. Also, while I was in Warsaw I met an American, who told me about life in Baghdad's green zone and constantly scanning everything around you. He also told me being required to take at least a hand gun with you everytime you left the green zone although many more contractors decided AK-47s were the way to go.
Back to the documentary. The subjects of this documentary were in their 40s, 50s, and 60s and a few of them (the ones in their 60s) were ready to expire after the first activity, which, was evasive driving. Also, at the school they taught people how to shoot, ditch a car and go on the run, and how to survive in a jungle, or desert for upto a week. I'm not proposing that the proposed article become the field guide, but rather more of a prepatory guide with a short list of where a company could send its employees to get the type of training I saw in the documentary. As Jpatokal notes above I doubt anyone will take everything Wikitravel to heart without some consideration, first. I could also see this as being exteremely helpful to traveller's should a normally peaceful region suddenly explode into civil war like what some "experts" had anticipated Ukraine to do during the Orange Revolution. - Sapphire

I thought I should say something since my name has been mentioned a couple of times. My own experience from visiting some of these 'dangerous' playes, is that there are tourists that will visit them, despite advice to the contrary. I was in Kabul last year when an internet cafe was blown up a short distance from me. The real targets were probably the Swiss tourists who luckily had left a few hours earlier. People to take risks and many enjoy it. It would probably be helpful to have an article on war zone safety. It might be worth seeking out an expert on the subject (which I cannot claim to be). There are speciallist companies that provide 'hostile environment' training. I had a course a few years back and am due another. One very important aspect of these courses is fist aid training. That could be an area worthy of an article by itself. I would also like to agree with the point made about government travel advice. It is usually over cautious. David Stanley 13 June 2006

OK here is the beginning of a War zone safety article! Let's see where it goes. David Stanley 18 June 2006
Looks good so far. Bravo! Pashley 05:20, 19 June 2006 (EDT)

RYP comment[edit]

I have a problem with this idea, mostly because the information is not from people in the actual region. Government advisories are fine for the timid but don't help actual conflict workers, journos etc, who must operate there. Even though I write the book. I still leave it to actual people who are in the actual zones to provide useful advice (www.comebackalive.com) Providing obscure, out of date or anecdotal warnings are not that helpful and potentially liable.

There is a wiki called Dangerpedia at my site and plenty of hard won experience from folks that still has to pass muster before it becomes "advice":)

best

RYP

Awesome. Thank you so much![edit]

I would just like to say that this article is fantastic. When complete this one is a barn star winner for sure. Thanks so much for doing this work, as it may well save lives or in one way or the other. -- Mark 15:29, 19 June 2006 (EDT)


I must say that I think that this article is both useful and good. I'm a bit mystified by the suggestion that "while I think this is a useful idea, hardcore travellers of this type are a pretty rare species. User:Davidbstanley is probably the closest we get to a Wikitravel's Dangerous Places kinda guy around here". I've been travelling in dangerous places for forty year as part of my job (I make documentary films). Although I personally don't like going to war zones unless i'm working - I feel that war tourists just make things worse for people who are trying to live there - I did appreciate, in the 70s, a lot of foreigners coming to my home town of Belfast to find out for themselves just what was going on there. I'm just back in London from Kabul, and Afghanistan is full of young people who want to find out what's going on, and to help. Hundreds of them, many doing really useful stuff. They need advice like this. Keep up the good work.Cooke 16:55, 27 June 2007 (EDT)

It's all relative, but any way you look at it, there are a lot less visitors of any stripe to Kabul than to, say, Paris or Orlando. But nobody's proposing that this page be deleted, on Wikitravel there's space for any niche of travellers... Jpatokal 04:37, 28 June 2007 (EDT)

Bulletproof vests and weapons[edit]

I added sections on these. See discussion at Talk:Afghanistan. Pashley 21:27, 17 October 2006 (EDT)

Lookin good... Cacahuate 04:28, 22 October 2006 (EDT)

Bullet proof vest info deletion and revert[edit]

A fact such as "No vest will stop a 50 calibre round" doesn't really belong.. It's extremely arbitrary. I'd be willing to guess that the average person interested in various safety measures to consider if one were to travel into a warzone isn't going to find the fact that no vest stops .50 calibre rounds. If someone wants to know what body armour can and can't stop, they'll visit the wikipedia page on body armour.

I disagree with you because I got the idea for this topic because I was reflecting on Ukraine's 2004 Presidential election, which apocalyptic analysts, at the time, suggested could have erupted into a civil war. Living several hundred miles away I was somewhat concerned and having no prior experience with bullet proof vests or military tactics I would have find this useful if the worst came true. -- Andrew H. (Sapphire) 00:45, 5 December 2006 (EST)
Post scriptum: When we were discussing the idea of this article I noted: I could also see this as being exteremely helpful to traveller's should a normally peaceful region suddenly explode into civil war like what some "experts" had anticipated Ukraine to do during the Orange Revolution. so we shouldn't assume everyone who reads this is preparing to go to a war zone when circumstances could very well change instanteously and a normally peaceful place has mortar shells raining down. -- Andrew H. (Sapphire) 00:57, 5 December 2006 (EST)

Mines in Cambodia[edit]

I advise removing the picture of land mines in Cambodia, because to tourists, land mines in that country present no threat whatsoever. You would have to drive through the jungle for an hour in any direction from any touristed area to encounter any mines. The threat is to locals in extremely rural areas relying on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods. No tourists have ever stepped on or near any mines. Cambodia is not an accurate example of a war zone, since that country's civil war ended in 1993, the Khmer Rouge disbanded in 1998, and the country is completely safe and stable. Mines, as I said, are no issue to tourists of any kind, independent or otherwise. Mentioning Cambodia anywhere on this page in any way is just misleading at best. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 24.85.171.109 (talkcontribs)

It's a picture of a landmine warning. IT'S NOTHING TO DO WITH CAMBODIA. IT'S A PICTURE OF A LANDMINE WARNING. REMOVE THE CAMBODIA CONTEXT AND IT'S VERY RELAVENT
I don't see a convincing argument for removing the image. The purpose is to give people an idea of what signs one may see near or in a mine field. Also, in no way is Wikitravel solely for tourists. We also hope our guides will be of some use to business travelers, school children doing reports, or volunteers (i.e. NGO volunteers who need to be dispatched to places where no outsider has visited before). -- Sapphire(Talk) • 00:42, 26 March 2007 (EDT)
Also note that the picture was taken at Preah Vihear, very much a tourist destination, and also very much in the middle of a live minefield. Jpatokal 01:35, 26 March 2007 (EDT)
Preah Vihear, while definitely a tourist attraction, is too far off the beaten track for most tourists. The vast majority of the small number of tourists that do visit the place do so from the Thai side of the border, where day visits are possible due to improving Thai-Cambodian relations following the 2003 riots. As for the NGO workers argument, my statement applies equally to them. Most NGO workers do not work in mine infested areas, and those that do certainly possess far better information than this guide ever will, and would never rely on this site anyways. A better statement by me would have been that no foreigner has ever fallen victim to a land mine and the risk to any foreigner in the country for any purpose is practically nil. In practical terms, only tourists (and I'd hazard a guess that in the case of this site that means backpackers) use this site anyways. Portraying land mines as a threat is a blatant misrepresentation of reality. By all means note that truly off the beaten track "destinations" in certain parts of the country present an issue with regards to land mines, but nothing more than that. There's no need to be politically correct here.
Even if you disagree with everything I've said, this is a page about war zone safety, and Cambodia is not a war zone.
Let's continue this discussion on Talk:Cambodia. Jpatokal 02:40, 26 March 2007 (EDT)
I dont see that the article suggests that Cambodia is a war zone, any more than Croatia which also has a photo of a mine. Davidbstanley 03:04, 26 March 2007 (EDT)
Keep the image. Perhaps add some text about how former war zones may still be dangerous decades later because of mines and UXO. Pashley 00:49, 28 March 2007 (EDT)
I added some text. Comment? Edits? Pashley 01:00, 28 March 2007 (EDT)

Camouflage passports[edit]

The article currently suggests " ... it may be wise to look into ... a camouflage passport, which is a faux passport "issued" by a non-existent country. Camouflage passports are used to throw off terrorists and abductors, ...". Is this realistic? Are attackers likely to be fooled? Will you be much better off if they are? Will you be worse off if they aren't fooled? Could it cause more problems than it solves? Pashley 07:58, 10 September 2007 (EDT)

My answers would be yes, yes, in rare cases, yes, yes. 99.9% of the time they're unlikely to be useful... but if I was an Israeli citizen in, say, Afghanistan or Iraq and found myself at a hostile roadblock, I'd much prefer to hand over a "Dutch Guiana" or "Rhodesia" passport instead of my Israeli one. Jpatokal 08:14, 10 September 2007 (EDT)
All sounds good except for the non-existing country part... I would think safer to hand over a fake passport to a real country... less chance of being caught or raising red flags. Though in some countries I've been in (Bangladesh notably) the immigration officer couldn't recognize the visa to his own country - even though that's pretty much his entire job - and I had to point it out to him. Which is up there with the time that the Zambian border guard was out of ink in his stamp pad. It's amazing that even when your job is incredibly simple, it's still just too hard for some. Sorry, storytime took over for a sec – cacahuate talk 19:35, 10 September 2007 (EDT)

Camouflage Passport[edit]

It's easy enough. I'm not sure about anyone else, but Transport SA was sure my passport for "Belgiem" was real until I pointed out

A. Belgium is spelt with a "U"
B. Why the hell would Belgian with a 2007 passport be renewing a 20-year-old SA licence?

Anyhow, I personally wouldn't (use a cam. passport or go to a warzone) but residents of the US, Israel, and countries fighting against the warzone would find it handy.


Upload an image[edit]

I have created a detailed image of war zones and areas of conflict. How do I upload it?

Scrap the map?[edit]

Interesting idea, but not one that I consider workable.

First, the practical problems. It strikes me as unmaintainable. These things change; it would be too difficult to keep it updated. Also, you cannot see the legend to know what the colours mean unless you click on the map. Finally, a place can have only one colour, so Egypt is not shown as problematic for Israelis, or Russia as corrupt government.

It is just wrong in places. For example, Egypt, India & Russia are shown as "land mine risk", but Laos is not.

Too many debatable political judgments. How do we decide if a country has a "corrupt government"? Only one in South America and two in Africa? I do not believe it. Some would say the US is hopelessly corrupt. We do not want to even try to draw that line; it would lead to endless pointless debates. Even if we could do that, "corrupt government" still does not belong n a map of "wars". Some highly corrupt governments rule for decades, more-or-less peacefully.

Finally, there's "unsafe for travelers of Israeli descent". The wording is wrong; it should be either "unsafe for Jews" or "unsafe for Israelis". There might be a good "travel topic" article in that, describing where Israelis encounter problems and how those problems can be managed. Or Americans, who are also hated in some quarters. Or Moslems, who encounter various predjudices in Western countries. But none of those belong in an article on "war zone safety", or in a map titled "wars".

So I'd say scrap the map. Other opinions? Pashley 22:23, 26 November 2008 (EST)

Your reasoning seems sound, and your arguments convincing. --Inas 22:31, 26 November 2008 (EST)


Thinking a bit more, if we cut it to only current conflicts and areas with mine/UXO risk from earlier wars, it might be fairly useful. We'd need a clear label giving the date of last update, though. Pashley 22:35, 26 November 2008 (EST)
Like most of these things, it is best maintained at the country or region level. Identify the risks in the more local article, and people can refer to this article if they still decide to go, and need advice. --Inas 22:39, 26 November 2008 (EST)
Actually, I thought of adding a vfd tag to this map, since it seems both oversimplified and inaccurate (I didn't realize it's actually being used in an article). Coloring all of Russia green for land mine risk is absurd, since the conflict there is localized to an area about the size of New Jersey. If we were to make a map, it should be basic—highlighting only current war-level conflicts. --Peter Talk 22:54, 26 November 2008 (EST)
I agree with the "scrap the map" camp. This might be of some use if it was (say) generated automatically based on state.gov travel warnings, but in its present state it's pretty much useless. Jpatokal 07:14, 8 December 2008 (EST)

Colombia[edit]

Hi, Colombia should be added to the "war zone" list. Trust me, I am from Colombia, and the situation has improved somewhat over the past few years, but large swaths of the country, namely Nariño up to Cali, Cali to Tolima and Caqueta, southern Meta down to Amazonas, northern Antioquia up to Chocó and into Panamá, plus the entire border to Venezuela, are considered war zones, and every single embassy in the world advises against non-essential travel in those areas due to the heavy fighting between paramilitaries, apolitical drug-runners, guerrillas and state forces. // Sofía. Palenque! 19:58, 20 November 2010 (EST)

Given the very small number of guerrillas still active, I think this is a stretch. The vast majority of the advice in this article is inapplicable to the vast majority of the country (and most of it is inapplicable to even the most dangerous parts of the country). If others want to keep it, it certainly should be heavily qualified, and the notion previously written on the page that Colombia's remote Amazonas territory is a War Zone is patently false. --Peter Talk 20:10, 20 November 2010 (EST)
Hello Peter, I do not agree. According to the United nations Colombia has the highest number of discplaced people in the world in 2010,[1] and also one of the highest amounts of landmines.[2] In 2010 an average of 500 people per day are being forced from their homes due to the new paramilitary groups (numbering some 15,000) the guerrillas (numbering 15,000, 5000 in the ELN[3] and 9,000-11,000 in FARC-EP[4] fighting turf wars in much of the country. The Colombian government claims that FARC only has 7,000 fighters, but state propaganda is unreliable and should be seen sceptically. Decides there are many human rights reports about right-wing death squads re-emerging stronger in 2010 and creating a humanitarian disaster in much of the country.[ http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/general/2010/09/20109864414388536.html]. All in all, any country with 500 new displaced people per day due to armed conflict[5], must of whom are not displaced by guerrillas, is to be considered a war zone. On a more personal note, I am from Neiva, Huila, and anyone who tries to say that place isn't a war zone has probably never been there. // Sofía Palenque! 20:32, 20 November 2010 (EST)
The war against FARC is on the news here almost daily, and as the president now has increased attacks on FARC, I'd say the area is more dangerous than ever. Obviously, western parts and the cities are safe, but the large swathe of jungle I think definitely should be considered a warzone. It's true that the Deep Southern part of Amazonas is relatively safe, but all other parts east of the mountains are very dangerous. --globe-trotter 09:40, 23 November 2010 (EST)
Globetrotter, exactly. Urban centerrs are at times targeted by explosions, but I'd say that much of the countryside and the entire southern and eastern part of the country is as bad as ever. In September of this year around 55 Colombian soldiers were killed by guerrillas,[6] and guerrilla activity has def. been on the rise since Jan Manuel Santos took over as president. // Sofía. Palenque! 06:26, 24 November 2010 (EST)

Mexico and South Korea?[edit]

Maybe Mexico should be considered here, but only for Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana. Trust me, I have relatives in Monterrey and they say everything is peaceful and the Drug War has been over-loaded and propagated by the US Media. But considering that there still is a Drug War, I would still add it, but only for Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana. Not Monterrey, as Monterrey is mostly unaffected. I would also consider South Korea, as the attack on Yeonpyeong Island which has resulted in 2 civilian deaths should place a small warning for both North and South Korea in case of more attacks. 99.60.229.159 13:40, 24 November 2010 (EST)

I think it can be worth to put an alert to Travel news if inter-Korean attacks continue, but it's a bit too early to declare either country a "war zone" yet.
As for the northern Mexican towns, most of the articles about them already have warningboxes on the safety situation, but I don't know if they could be considered outright "war zones". – Vidimian 14:25, 24 November 2010 (EST)
As with the discussion above, I think the "list of warzones" might be in danger of getting a little silly and I would venture a little political. This article is about places of active military conflict that are not tourist destinations in any way shape or form (Keep in mind that it is very unusual for non-combatants to be wandering around war zones). The article gives advice on security training, hiring bodyguards, armor, etc., that is only relevant for people who are going to work in an active war zone, not for people shopping in Seoul or driving to Acapulco. That drive may be dangerous and shouldn't be done at night, but we have stay safe sections in the country, region, and locality articles that can better handle the local nuances. It might be time to ax the list altogether. --Peter Talk 11:39, 25 November 2010 (EST)
South Korea obviously is ridiculous, it's perfectly safe to visit (even now). The problem with this list is that many countries are safe for the most part, but have some regions which could be considered war zones. Wikipedia has a good list of ongoing military conflicts. --globe-trotter 11:47, 25 November 2010 (EST)
Maybe we could allow a link to that WP article, get rid of our list, and thereby tactfully allow WT to avoid the political minefield of declaring countries/regions "war zones?" --Peter Talk 13:25, 25 November 2010 (EST)
Yes,the list should go. Politically loaded, unmaintainable, ... Pashley 17:16, 25 November 2010 (EST)
I have to agree with SK being a ridiculous addition. I'm currently living there, and the blip the NK attack caused was hardly noticeable. Thought I would add in my two cents since the war zone list is still up, but I'm too new to have the balls to delete the entire section. --kirakira 00:29, 5 December 2010 (EST)

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