Companies withdraw employees; travel agencies cancel Algeria tours

January 19, 2013

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

A number of Japanese companies are withdrawing their employees from Algeria after terrorists took dozens of foreign nationals hostage at a natural gas complex there on Jan. 16.

JSM Ltd., which provides aid for the country's fishing industry, brought back an employee working at the company's Algiers office on Jan. 18.

Even though the capital city is far from In Amenas, the site of the hostage crisis, and its security is said to be stable, the company was concerned that civil war may break out, as happened in nearby Libya, an official said.

The local representative will return to the Algiers office when calm is restored, the official said. The company will instruct local workers to temporarily refrain from traveling long distances to desert and mountainous areas, where they could be at risk of becoming the target of hostage-takers.

IHI Corp., a major heavy industries company, also instructed an employee who was visiting the company's Algiers office to leave the country on Jan. 18, an official said.

The employee was in Algiers on business related to an order IHI had received for a plant construction project.

The employee was scheduled to stay there until Jan. 24.

Several Algeria tours have been canceled as well.

Travelers Guardian Inc., a travel agency focusing on African tours, stopped accepting applications for Algeria tours on Jan. 16, when news of the hostage crisis emerged.

The destinations include Algiers and Ghardaia, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, but do not include border areas near Mali and Niger, where armed groups are present. An official said those tour sites remain safe to visit.

The company, working closely with a local travel agency, plans to resume tours in Algeria as soon as security is confirmed.

Another travel agency in Tokyo also canceled its “11 days around the Algerian desert” package tour, which was scheduled for March. Destinations included areas in the country's southern deserts.

The agency has received inquiries about security in Morocco and Tunisia from tourists planning to travel to those countries, but no one has canceled yet, according to an official.

A separate travel agency also decided not to conduct a tour planned for February.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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JGC Corp. public relations manager Takeshi Endo answers questions from reporters at the company's headquarters in Yokohama on Jan. 18. The company's workers were among those taken hostage in Algeria. (Jun Kaneko)

JGC Corp. public relations manager Takeshi Endo answers questions from reporters at the company's headquarters in Yokohama on Jan. 18. The company's workers were among those taken hostage in Algeria. (Jun Kaneko)

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  • JGC Corp. public relations manager Takeshi Endo answers questions from reporters at the company's headquarters in Yokohama on Jan. 18. The company's workers were among those taken hostage in Algeria. (Jun Kaneko)

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