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Talk:War zone safety

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Revision as of 06:16, 26 March 2007 by (talk) (Mines in Cambodia)
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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)

Awesome. Thank you so much!

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)

Bulletproof vests and weapons

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

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

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 (talkcontribs)

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.