Via Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.Net
Via Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Last year, more than 14 million passports were issued in the United States. While that’s up from the prior year, a recent survey showed that traveling abroad is actually down. In 2013, only 13 percent of Americans traveled overseas for vacation. While the cost of travel was certainly a factor, so were concerns over safety.

“With wars all across the Middle East and all around the world, you got to be careful when you leave the United States,” Mississippi resident Dennis Miller told Fox News.

It’s no secret that millions of Americans go missing each year in the USA. But what many people may not know is that far too many Americans vanish overseas also. Their families lose all contact and never hear from them again. It’s liked their loved one literally vanished into thin air.

The problem is alive and real. Just check out The Missing Americans Project. It regularly reports Americans who’ve disappeared while traveling out of the country. Its website also contains hundreds of photos of Americans who’ve not been seen or heard from in years. If that’s not enough to convince you of the seriousness of the problem, Google “missing Americans abroad.” You’ll come up with hundreds of results.

Know The Risks

Via Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.Net
Via Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Traveling abroad can be lots of fun. It’s certainly a great way to experience new cultures, meet new people, try new foods and visit famous landmarks—and for the most part, it’s perfectly safe to do so. However, as with most things in life, there are risks. Those risks especially increase when Americans visit areas of the world plagued by crime, war and hatred toward the United States.

The U.S. Department of State’s website regularly issues travel alerts and warnings to Americans considering traveling abroad. Some of the countries listed include:

  • Mexico: According to the federal government, S. citizens have been the victims of violent crimes, such as kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery by organized criminal groups in various Mexican states.
  • Haiti: Upcoming elections now through early 2016 may lead to violent demonstrations, political crowds and crowds. Book flights accordingly, say the feds.
  • Pakistan: Due terrorist attacks frequently occurring against civilian, government, and foreign targets, the federal government is warning travelers to avoid trips to the country if possible. Attacks range from targeted killings and kidnappings, to armed assaults against heavily guarded facilities, including Pakistani military installations and airports.

For a complete list of countries, click here.

us passport

The country of Nepal is also currently on the list. Just this month, foreign authorities announced the murder of an American woman who originally went missing in that country on August 7th. Dahlia Yahia, of Texas, disappeared just three days after arriving in the popular tourist town of Pokhara. She traveled to the country to help earthquake victims.

Police say a 27-year-old man has recently confessed to killing the young woman and then to throwing her body in a river. At this time, authorities have yet to recover Yahia’s body.

Reasons Americans Vanish Overseas:

Via The Missing Americans Project
Via The Missing Americans Project

There are many reasons why Americans disappear abroad. Every case is different. In reality, a missing persons case abroad really isn’t necessarily any different than those here at home. Common reasons a person might disappear overseas include:

  • They are the target of a crime (Ex: armed robbery, kidnapping)
  • They are injured during a trip (Ex: hiking, boating)
  • They are the target of a terror plot

Family Complications With Organizing A Search

Via Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.Net
Via Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

When a loved one disappears overseas, it’s not uncommon for families to feel hopeless. Trying to locate their lost family member can seem impossible. Language barriers and travel costs are other obstacles families must face when trying to report their missing family member.

Families of Americans who disappear in foreign countries should not have to invent the wheel. Unfortunately, this is what too often happens. According to The Missing Persons Project:

People in deep distress have to learn how to run an international search and rescue operation, raise funds, cultivate relationships with nongovernmental organizations, and work with the media — all within hours of learning their loved one is missing. The absence of clear standard operating procedures within and among U.S. embassies and a lack of State Department support leads to an unconscionable waste of time when time is of the essence.

Embassy & State Department Involvement

Via patrisyu/FreeDigitalPhotos.Net
Via patrisyu/FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

When a loved one goes missing, families want that person located immediately. It’s only natural, and honestly, who can blame them? While there can be frustration when dealing with the U.S. government, contacting the proper authorities is still a necessary process. Both the FBI and the U.S. Embassy play a critical role in coordinating search efforts.

If you are concerned about a U.S. citizen, relative or friend who is traveling or living abroad, contact the U.S. Embassy immediately at 1-888-407-4747.

The more information you provide, the better your chances are of finding your lost friend or family member. Embassies and consulates abroad can use the info you give them to try to locate the missing person. They can also do the following on your behalf:

  • Check with local authorities in the foreign country to determine if there is any report of a U.S. citizen hospitalized, arrested, or otherwise unable to communicate with those looking for them.
  • If necessary, personally search hotels, airports, hospitals, or even prisons abroad
  • serve as a diplomatic liaison (The FBI has more than 60 agents around the world today)
  • support the investigative efforts of the foreign government

Need Help?

Lauth Investigations and Thomas Lauth are experts in helping families  locate missing loved ones.

While each missing persons case is different and results will vary, Lauth has been helping families for more than 20 years and boasts nearly an 85% success rate.

If you or someone you know need assistance, call them today at 1.800.889.FIND or 317.951.1100.