World + 15 more

Aid Workers Kidnapped 2020

Situation Report
Originally published


In two separate incidents a week apart, four aid workers and a security guard were kidnapped along the same road in Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno state. A video released on social media shows the blindfolded men begging for their lives. In a second video a voice is heard telling ‘the infidels’ to ‘repent and turn to God’, before one of the hooded gunmen orders the rest to shoot, coldly executing all five hostages. Referring to themselves as ‘soldiers of the khalifa’, the perpetrators likely belonged to Boko Haram.

This Insecurity Insight document provides information on aid workers reportedly kidnapped in 2020. It is based on incidents identified in open sources and verified information submitted by Aid in Danger partner agencies. This data is available on HDX.


  • Monitoring by Insecurity Insight identified 66 kidnapping incidents involving 160 aid workers in 15 countries between January and December 2020.

  • Reported incidents peaked in June, when 30 aid workers were kidnapped in Mali (10), Niger (10), Nigeria (7), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (2) and Syria (1).

  • Most kidnappings involved one aid worker or small numbers of up to three. In Niger, Somalia and Afghanistan multiple aid workers in groups of five or more were kidnapped at the same time.

  • Named perpetrators include Al-Shabaab (Somalia); Ambazonian separatists (Cameroon); Boko Haram/Islamic State in West Africa Province, Fulani tribesmen, and Jama'a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (West Africa); Tahrir al-Sham and Hurras al-Din (aka Guardians of Religion Organisation, affiliated with Al-Qaeda) (Syria); Houthi rebels (Yemen); Katiba Macina (Mali); Mai-Mai Mbulu, Mayi-Mayi Buhirwa and Mayi-Mayi Yakutumba (DRC); and the Taliban (Afghanistan).