International SOS has been supporting clients affected by the coup in Niger since 26 July 2023. Following the imposition of sanctions, border closures and threats of military intervention by neighbouring members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), we stood up a multi-disciplinary crisis management team to oversee all requests for assistance and information. Most requests have been for support with safe movement, evacuation options and advice to enable client crisis decision-making.
We are continuously monitoring the situation and verifying information via our sources on the ground in Niger and neighbouring countries. We are also leveraging our teams around the world to assess the likely international response and impact on the security situation on the ground.
Our team has also developed potential scenarios for the trajectory of the crisis. This information feeds into our planning and regularly updated advice to our clients. Continuous assessment of the risks in the country led us to raise our advice to Standby on 2 August and Evacuate: Non-Essential Staff on 6 August. We continue to monitor and provide alerts on the situation daily.
In light of the uncertainty around airspace closure and potential for the officially closed Benin border crossing to start being more strictly enforced, International SOS is encouraging clients with actual or potential requests for assistance, who are unprepared to stand fast for long periods, to make use of the window of opportunity to evacuate.
Our priority focus is supporting clients with their remaining workforce in the country, including:
- Having a 24/7 dedicated operational, medical and security staff working on the incident response and we have deployed an Incident Management Team to Benin on 11 August.
- Conducting a cross-border land evacuation mission from Niamey to Cotonou, Benin, in cooperation with our retained security partner on the ground.
- Supporting safe movements to/from the airport and facilitated an international evacuation out of the country by a commercial carrier during the open airspace window.
- Continually verifying information about the situation on the ground to support our operational planning and inform client decision-making.
- Engaging with clients still in Niger to understand their needs and to discuss options for evacuation.
- We have a proven land evacuation route and supporting clients wishing to leave via land, particularly while airspace is closed. Airspace is expected to be closed until at least 20 August. Currently, it remains difficult to predict when airspace will reopen and under what conditions flights will be able to operate.
- Actively working with our charter operators to reaffirm their capabilities and likely lead times. This enables us to take advantage of air space openings and liaise with government contacts to facilitate access to evacuation flights.
- Assessing and evolving our capability based on client needs. With many clients standing fast, our capability to offer supply drops is being assessed.
- International SOS staff across the region, particularly in Nigeria and Ghana, are providing onward assistance including logistics or healthcare arrangements for clients once they reach an international safe haven.
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