Visiting A Country During a War
To start things off, you shouldn’t be going to a war zone. There is a good chance that you can die. At the very least it is very possible to suffer an injury. But it is understandable that there might be a reason to visit a place that is currently experiencing conflict. To prepare can be something that could potentially save your life. Non-combatants can still be viewed as hostile targets by either side and there is a likelihood that they would treat you as an enemy.
Imagine showing up in a place like Syria right now. The average American is clearly distinguishable from a Syrian and would easily stand out. Either side would be suspicious of your presence and will act swiftly to eliminate you. Without knowing anybody your chances of survival drop dramatically. Having somebody that can vouch for you to either side can give you an identification. An understanding that you mean no harm or disrespect can get you out of a lot of trouble when being able to communicate is difficult. Due to an already hostile preface, things you say can be interpreted as insult or hostility. With a guide who can interpret and keep you safe by their familiarity, a lot of problems can be avoided. This person can show you where areas are safe and which places one should avoid. Dressing like the locals would be advisable in order to stay concealed. Standing out and drawing the attention of those around you can only result in problems.
Consider that your camera can cause problems for you. If captured, they can use a lot of reasons against you. These pictures can be proof in their eyes that you are a spy. Journalists have been killed in the past because of what they were able to capture with their cameras. Certain countries do not want pictures that would enrage world opinion and would prefer to keep their war crimes quiet.
Certain places have been at war for many years and has become the norm. The FARC rebels of Columbia have been fighting the Columbian government for years. They finance their war by the trafficking of narcotics as well as kidnappings. Many times, they’d kidnap wealthy tourists who were on vacation and collect large ransoms from their families. This is a random act that can be difficult to prepare for. Sometimes the only way to get out of it alive is to pay the ransom. There are tactics that are taught to soldiers to deal with being captured. These techniques can minimize your chances of being hurt or killed in the process. Classes for these techniques are available to people who want to learn these skills. Some situations will result in death the majority of the time and cannot be helped. Conflicts in places like Africa consist of child soldiers high on drugs. Their orders are to kill anyone in their path and reasoning with them will result in futility. Be prepared to arrange payment in case of capture. Hostages who cannot be ransomed are usually killed or sold off into slavery, with death being more common than the latter option.
Current war zones and even ex war zones can have live munitions scattered across the countryside. In places such as Cambodia, there are constant signs and warnings to travelers to advise against traveling off the roads. These areas are littered with land mines that are dangerous and expensive to remove. Some have sat there for years and still can be triggered today by a light step. Populated areas have been cleared previously and generously safe to travel upon. Stay on the made roads where you know it’s safe.
In places where battles take place, there is always the danger of being hit by crossfire. Many battles have had more civilian casualties than military deaths. Bombs and bullets don’t discriminate between either and when civilians are exposed even more than armored soldiers. Make sure to keep covered and avoid open areas where you can be exposed. When taking cover, use walls and avoid cars. Bullets can pass through car doors very easily. An exploding grenade coupled with the gas tank of the vehicle can cause an explosion great enough to kill anyone in the area.
While moving about the country, you’ll run into many road blocks and barricades. They will have these in place in order to provide intelligence and regulate the use of roads. Keep your hands where they can see them and be polite. Do not give them a reason to shoot you. Try to stay together and keep things calm. Soldiers in these regions are high strung and almost irrationally paranoid. Tourists and civilians have been killed in the past for using a cellphone. Soldiers assumed that the cellphone was being used to detonate a bomb and opened fire. Military convoys on the road in Afghanistan are known to be avoided at all times. Trying to overtake them can often result in them opening fire for seeming hostile in their eyes.
If you are hurt for any reason, medical help can be difficult to come by. Most medical attention will be sparse due to the many others that are injured. The local doctors trying to save lives at the moment are focusing on their countrymen rather than deal with the life of a tourist who wandered too far. Having someone with you that can provide medical attention will be a wise decision.
Many basic services would most likely be non-functioning. People in the area are more concerned with staying alive rather than picking up garbage or delivering groceries. Supplies and water will become a commodity that is rare and difficult to come by. Make sure that you won’t have to depend on local sources in order to survive in these situations. Food will be difficult to find because of the failed infrastructure. Being able to depend on yourself can greatly increase your chances of surviving such a trip.
War can lead a community to desperation when pushed enough. These measures can cause a common man to fight desperately in order to protect and save what they care for. The worst nature of humanity can be shown at these times so we must be able to show empathy while protecting ourselves. It is a fine line to trust someone so desperate and while sympathy and emotion can take over, remember what you need to do in order to ensure your own survival.
Many war zones might have non governmental aid present to aid refugees and those injured from the conflict. Researching the locations of these organizations can come in handy later if needed as a last resort. These facilities could have food, water and medical attention available to anyone in need. Keep in mind that these locations can also be a target for opposing forces. Many of these organizations have been targeted in the past which resulted in countless casualties.
Schools are available to train and prepare you for travel in war zones. Ex-special forces and intelligence officers provide instruction on real situations, first aid and weapons training. Many people who travel for their careers, such as diplomats and journalists will take classes such as this. In certain parts of the world, it is recommended to take anti-kidnapping training because this would be your highest threat.
There is a likelihood where all the preparation can’t help you stay alive. A stray missile can strike you at any moment and there isn’t much that can protect you from that. It would be wise to have made arrangements in case of your demise before taking this trip. It may be the last outcome you are looking for, but you must consider the possibility.
Visiting places such as this do not have many good reasons but there are some. Locals who are suffering and injured need help from the world community and those who are able to help should do so. Individuals with medical training can be valuable to a community that has just been bombed out. Even if you have a good intent, this can still get you in trouble. It has been reported that the Syrian government has been arresting doctors to prevent rebels from receiving medical attention. Entering the country itself can be tricky and steps must be taken in order to get past this first obstacle.
After all the consideration of risks and dangers, you still want to go through with this, you can hire someone who has done it before. There are several adventure and war tour companies who specialize in what you’re looking for. These companies employ ex-armed forces to act as security along with experts and local guides who interpret and vouch for you. These trips are not cheap and can cost almost two thousand dollars per day. They can do everything they can to increase your safety but since your’e entering a hostile environment, your safety is impossible to guarantee. Make sure this trip is being done for the right reasons because the consequences can change your life.
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