Handling complex security challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic
Baani Gambhir, Coordinating Security Specialist
Four months into the pandemic, COVID-19 related requests ranging from advice to evacuations continue to form the bulk of our daily routine. Even while handling the more ‘traditional’ security issues, there is always a COVID-related element to consider.
I recall receiving a client query regarding the ongoing, violent insurgency in northern Mozambique, waged by a terrorist group. In my advice, I detailed the geographical expanse effected by the violence, and also how COVID-19 related measures have further complicated access to the province. While these measures are expected to gradually be eased over the coming months, it is critical to factor in the potential restrictions on contingency plans and potential courses of action.
Similarly, we responded to a land evacuation request from Lilongwe (Malawi) to Harare (Zimbabwe). The potential security threats on the ground – relating to road traffic accidents, banditry, and seasonal flooding around Tete; had to be considered alongside the potential border closures due to COVID-19 and its logistical implications on the client’s safety.
Needless to say, the pandemic’s impacts can be felt in all aspects of life, but more on the way we approach travel and security on a macro and micro level. We have benefitted tremendously from the regional knowledge pool of our security teams around the world. Even on a local level, the expertise and information from our wide network of providers was very valuable. Our on-the-ground presence in remote locations enabled us to have credible sources of local intelligence. This, in turn, allowed us to provide actionable advice to our clients.
It is safe to say that the global pandemic has brought an additional dimension to security issues. Additionally, COVID-19 has manifested its own security issues, including a spike in social unrest, police brutality, and crime. We, as an organisation, have adapted to this change in a very timely fashion. This is evident in our reporting patterns which provide a comprehensive and forward-looking outlook of COVID-19’s second-order security implications. This includes business continuity advice for clients to help them maintain their operations, while mitigating any potential disruptions.
As a member of security specialists at the Dubai Security Centre, I assist and advise clients on their security needs. I monitor and assess all activity that could have a security repercussions in the Middle East, North East and Southern Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.