English translation of the article published on the Travel for business website: https://www.travelforbusiness.it/casi-studio-travel-risk-management/

By Mark Lowe

A military coup, offensive cartoons and the fear of rebel attacks all have one thing in common: western governments advising their citizens to evacuate countries impacted by violence and social unrest. While the first question to pose before an international journey remains “Is the trip necessary?”, one of the next is “How well are we prepared to deal with an emergency?” Discover our one-stop-solutions for your international business in full compliance with the Duty of Care.

When the generals in Myanmar decided against accepting the results of the political elections the result was immediate and traumatic, the military coup brought with it violent protest and the resulting situation led to a number of foreign governments advising their citizens to leave the country immediately.

In the case of the cartoons, the advisory released by the French Embassy in Islamabad demonstrated how an apparently unrelated event can have direct and dramatic consequences on our interests abroad. Irrespective of the political backstory to the protests, the situation put French nationals in Pakistan at risk and Paris, fearing for the safety of its citizens, advised them to evacuate without wasting time.

Before the situation in Chad further degenerated with the death of the newly re-elected president Idriss Deby, fighting between the army and rebels in the north led US Government analysts to fear that armed groups would advance on the capital N’Djamena. As a precautionary measure, the US State Department ordered all non-essential diplomats and families of American personnel to leave the country.

 

Monitoring evolving situations

In hindsight it is easy to say that all three cases presented elements that made the potential for the situation to degenerate identifiable, however, if that was the case then why did national governments not act faster?

While the answer to the above question can be debated at length and would have to include the analysis of a series of diplomatic considerations, all three examples serve as micro case studies as to the importance of correctly monitoring and understanding developing scenarios.

A rapid examination of each case proves the point in question: the warning signs were there.

Suu Kyi and her once-banned National League for Democracy (NLD) party have ruled Myanmar since being elected in 2015. Last November’s elections saw the NLD win more than 80% of the vote, however, the military-backed opposition immediately began making accusations of voter fraud – allegations for which little or no evidence was provided. The scene was being set and on the morning of 1 February 2021, Myanmar’s military announced that it had taken control of the country.

Anti-French sentiment had been simmering for months in Pakistan since Paris expressed support for Charlie Hebdo’s right to republish the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, a choice deemed blasphemous by many Muslims in a number of countries.Tensions boiled over after the leader of a far-right Islamist party critical of France was arrested. The resulting violent anti-French protests paralysed large parts of the country leading to the French embassy in Pakistan advising all French nationals and companies to temporarily leave the country.

At the time of the evacuation order, Chad’s former President Idriss Deby appeared poised to extend his 30-year rule, both the United States and the United Kingdom warned of possible violence in the capital N’Djamena. Both governments were concerned that armed rebel fighters approaching N’Djamena from the north and growing popular discontent over President Idriss Deby’s handling of the nation’s oil wealth may have led to widespread protests and violence.

As a precautionary measure, Washington and London advised their citizens to leave the country immediately.

 

Three case studies, one lesson: being prepared is fundamental

Western governments are structured to monitor and interpret political and social change, private companies, with few exceptions, are not. This leads to the first conclusion: organisations with international operations must have access to specialist analysis and updates concerning the situation in the countries and regions that they are operating in.

Timely, reliable information is fundamental and lies at the core of an organisation’s capability to correctly manage international travel. In addition, the analysis of current situations is an important element of an organisation’s obligation to exercise full Duty of Care towards their staff.

The second, equally important observation is that any organisation operating in a country at risk of political or social instability must have a robust and immediately actionable emergency evacuation procedure in place. While the company might not be able to anticipate an emergency scenario, it must have the ability to deal with the complications of evacuating staff at short notice.

While the first question to pose before an international journey remains “Is the trip necessary?”, one of the next is “How well are we prepared to deal with an emergency?

The answer to the former is subjective while the answer to the latter is objective: has the organisation’s Travel Risk Management procedure provided for access to both remote and local assistance?

If the answer is no, and the traveller does not have access to local support, at the very least full Duty of Care is not being provided.

 

PTG formed strategic partnerships to provide clients with End-to-End Travel Security

Timely and Accurate Intelligence

Access to updated, reliable information is of particular importance when deciding if a trip should take place or otherwise and there will be occasions in which an organisation has doubts in regards to this decision.

As there are no ‘black and white rules’, professional advice should be sought on these occasions. Through our partnership with Riskline, PTG is able to provide timely and accurate intelligence to organisations operating in an ever greater number of countries, while travellers are kept constantly informed by receiving Real-Time Travel Alerts on their smartphones.

Worldwide Local Support

Pyramid Temi Group is the only Italian based company that has a global hub network, a capacity that has been strengthened through a partnership agreement with another industry leader, FocusPoint. By combining our respective skills and experience, we are able to provide companies with response services to crises and accidents of a medical and security nature globally.

The PTG and FocusPoint one-stop-solution enables travellers to access global assistance from their smartphone via Assistance Button connected to our 24/7/365 Emergency Hotline in over 250 languages, for both medical and security emergencies.

 

As Myanmar, Pakistan and Chad have all demonstrated, while some scenarios can be predicted, this requires dedicated, specialised resources and a number of capabilities necessary to fulfilling the obligation of full Duty of Care, that very few private organisations possess.

 

Travel Security Hub®, a one-stop-tool for Travel Security

The Travel Security Hub® platform has been designed and developed by PTG, and powered by Riskline and FocusPoint, in accordance with management and travellers’ Travel Risk Management needs and in full respect of the principles set forth in the new international Travel Risk Management Standard, ISO 31030.

Companies  have access to a one-stop tool to identify, assess and mitigate travel risks, activate our ground services, and respond to any incidents, crises and emergencies that could affect a traveller’s safety and security.

Our services complement Travel Risk Management procedures and bolster an organisation’s ethical, moral and legal obligations in terms of Duty of Care towards its travelling population.

 

Learn more about how we can support your organisation’s preparations for the return to travel: https://pyramidtemigroup.com/en/what-we-do/