Emotional support for victims of confinement in South Sudan


In July 2016, an organisation required employee evacuation from South Sudan. Their workforce of 21 individuals had been confined inside the company compound for six days; protecting themselves from the numerous armed conflicts occurring within the city. In addition to our security evacuation services, and in partnership with Workplace Options (WPO),  we provided immediate psychological and emotional support to impacted members; to reduce their emotional shock and to help ensure they could make a full recovery.


Services: Evacuation, Post-Evacuation Emotional/Psychological Support & Training
Locations: South Sudan & China

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 Once the South Sudanese Civil War began to subside in 2015, another major clash between two political parties in July 2016 led to the immediate rise of tensions. Disastrous armed conflicts followed and resulted  in the death of some 300 people. The lives of our members were in extreme danger - and this required immediate response. Their evacuation to a safe location was arranged, and they were evacuated. Their experience was deemed traumatic, as many explained how they felt a significant amount of stress and anxiety as they feared for their lives. Our duty – and the duty of care of their organisation – was to ensure they had sufficient psychological and emotional support. This was crucial in avoiding long-term psychological trauma which could affect their mental health. 



After discussing with the Company Representative, we agreed upon a Psychological and Emotional Support Intervention Plan. This consisted of the immediate provision of group and individual trauma debriefings and support to impacted employees. Two WPO Trauma Professionals and a WPO Trauma Consultant were deployed to the client’s site in China; where the personnel had been safely transported out of South Sudan. Upon arrival, they  immediately provided members with 4 group sessions - that were conducted in their first language. The session involved psychoeducation on possible reactions to traumatic events, positive coping strategies and the reiteration of importance to seek support. The support provided by WPO complemented our evacuation services and allowed us to meet the physical and emotional needs of our members in the most effective manner. To assist in preparing employees to return to work, WPO also facilitated a training session called ‘Self-care, Remaining Resilient.’ The 1-hour session was designed to help individuals learn to identify symptoms of stress (such as sleep disturbance, appetite changes or poor concentration), assess their own situation, learn hands-on techniques to help bring balance to their work and personal life, reduce their stress, and become mindful of the benefits of self-care.” Trauma Professionals also provided the opportunity for individual sessions. Individual sessions helped the most affected employees process their emotions - and addressed their immediate needs and concerns. WPO Handouts on “Individual Reactions to Traumatic Events” were distributed to members in order to guide them to request further support.

After delivering 9 hours of emotional support, the following operating recommendations were made:

  1. To provide and encourage individual counselling support to impacted employees who wish to avail the service. 
  2. Additional group debriefing or individual counselling to monitor the evolution of the affected employees’ psychological and emotional state. 
  3. A session to provide communication and management guidance to the managers of the impacted employees to ensure their adequate behaviour subsequent to this type of incident.


International SOS were able to ensure the safety of our members by extracting them from a very high-risk zone. In partnership with WPO, we were able to quickly respond to the immediate needs of 21 members for psychological and emotional support. This combination of evacuation support, security advice and a comprehensive emotional support solution was essential in the effective response to and management of this crisis, resulting in a positive outcome for both the individual members and the client’s management team.  All 21 members returned back to work within a few weeks. 

Note: Certain details of this case have been changed to protect the anonymity of our client.