Security support during a riot in Maputo
Travel risk can change rapidly. Riots and political tensions can suddenly erupt and transform a relatively secure area into a high risk destination. International SOS monitor security incidents worldwide and provide practical advice and assistance to members in difficult situations. This case study describes how we helped a member during the violent September 2010 riots in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique.Service: International SOS membership
Location: Maputo, Mozambique
For the past year, Kevin Riedel*, a medical consultant at a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) had made monthly trips to Mozambique. On August 31, 2010, Kevin travelled to Maluana, a village located 1.5 hours drive from Maputo. Little did he know that the security situation was to change overnight.
Since emerging from civil war in 1992, Mozambique has been a destination of medium travel risk. The country, however, remains among the least developed nations in Africa with 70% of the population living below the poverty line. Inflation is an ongoing problem and on 1 September, the government announced 30% price hikes on food and fuel. Thousands rioted in Bagamoyo, a deprived part of Maputo. A main road leading to the city from the south and the international airport was closed.
With a scheduled flight home to Johannesburg the next day, Kevin was extremely nervous and called the International SOS Assistance Centre in Johannesburg for advice.
Kevin spoke with a security specialist working for International SOS. The security specialist confirmed Kevin was not at immediate risk and advised him to ‘standfast’ at the guest house where he was staying.
With accurate information from local, on-the-ground contacts in Maputo, the security specialist kept Kevin informed of the changing situation. As the airport was shut, many international carriers were overbooked but due to a special relationship with many airlines, International SOS was able to reserve a flight home for Kevin.
On 3 September, the airport reopened. We managed Kevin’s private car journey to the airport with the assurance that if problems developed en route, we could deploy a local armed response vehicle through our local security provider. After arriving safely at the airport, Kevin took his flight home.
The food riots and aggressive response of the local police suddenly changed a benign environment into a dangerous situation. We had accurate information on incidents in Maputo so Kevin could make informed decisions on his personal safety. By managing his journey to the airport and booking a flight home, Kevin had the peace of mind and support he needed.
* Name has been changed to protect the member's identity.