The situation

Since becoming an independent state in 2011, South Sudan has seen persistent internal conflict. Non-profit organisations and others sending teams to the area are sensitive to the need to keep their field workers safe.

World Relief, an NGO that provides humanitarian aid and disaster and emergency relief, receives travel security support from Drum Cussac as a complement to medical cover from our partner Generali Global Assistance, formerly known as Europ Assistance.

So, when the death of five government soldiers at the hands of former rebel fighters sparked an initial alert through our Global Risk Monitor on the 8th July 2016, World Relief was among the first to know. Civil war had raised its ugly head once more and we advised anyone based in and around Juba, the capital, to exercise extreme caution and stay alert for further advice.

In this highly volatile situation, we soon had to follow through with warnings of severe travel disruption, culminating in the temporary closure of Juba airport. Commercial flights were at worst suspended and at best facing cancellations and delays, while travellers trying to reach the airport encountered road blocks and checkpoints.

Our response

As conditions rapidly went from bad to worse, widespread looting broke out, hundreds were killed or injured and thousands more sought sanctuary with the UN.

David Jeffree, World Relief’s in-house Security Manager, called on our Global Operations Centre for assistance. With David having already commenced evacuation of World Relief personnel, our task was to evacuate a further six expatriate employees out of the country and to relocate a seventh employee, a South Sudanese national, to safety. Four of these personnel were based in Juba and three were based in Old Fangak, a remote village in the north of the country.

Our Operations team gave immediate security advice and then monitored the World Relief personnel through our Overwatch service, calling regularly to check on their welfare and keeping them up to speed on the changing situation. Meanwhile, we worked with resources on the ground to organise a swift, safe evacuation.

The outcome

With the city of Juba in lockdown, and a de facto curfew limiting movement to daytime only, we had to wait until a safe window of opportunity opened up. Once the situation stabilised, two separate evacuations were carried out: first was the evacuation of four staff from Juba; and the second was the evacuation of three staff from isolated Old Fangak.

On the 13th July, we chartered a 9-seater Cessna light aircraft to fly into Juba from Nairobi, Kenya. At the same time, we arranged for a close protection officer and a security trained driver to escort the four expatriate employees from their Juba compound to the airport.

These security personnel remained at the airport with the World Relief staff until take-off, which was a great reassurance for the travellers. Three hours later, the Cessna touched down safely in Nairobi, where World Relief has a regional office.

Three days later, we chartered a Dornier 228 through a local provider to fly into the remote air strip in Old Fangak to pick up two expatriate personnel and a South Sudanese employee.

Cessna

Here, there were natural obstacles to overcome. Despite an airstrip inspection, heavy rains meant the Dornier became stuck in the mud on the outskirts of the runway. Thankfully, the local community lent a hand in extracting the aircraft. It then flew on to Juba to drop off the South Sudanese national and complete customs, before flying into Nairobi to repatriate the two expatriate staff.

For World Relief, David Jeffree comments, “Drum Cussac gave us every support, from arranging a secure, safe pick-up and transfer to the airport, to smoothing our people’s passage through immigration, to organising enjoyable, stress-free flights out of the country. One of the main contributing factors to the overall success of the project was that communications were streamlined, timely and accurate – in short, Drum Cussac conducted a highly professional operation.”

Key actions

  • Initial security advice and crisis management guidance from Drum Cussac’s Global Operations Manager
  • Dedicated 24/7 team of security specialists coordinating all activities from the Global Operations Centre
  • Provision of Overwatch service and situation monitoring throughout
  • Outgoing calls to check on the World Relief team’s welfare
  • Safe transfer of personnel within South Sudan and evacuation to Nairobi

With the city of Juba in lockdown, and a de facto curfew limiting movement to daytime only, we had to wait until a safe window of opportunity opened up. Once the situation stabilised, two separate evacuations were carried out: first was the evacuation of four staff from Juba; and the second was the evacuation of three staff from isolated Old Fangak.

A travel risk management and security specialist, Drum Cussac’s core business is protecting our clients’ assets and employees travelling or located anywhere in the world. Our research and intelligence capability keeps clients up to speed on fast moving global risk and security related events. We also provide 24/7 emergency, crisis and advisory support during incidents or at periods of heightened uncertainty, insecurity and instability.

Talk to us today on +44 (0) 1202 802 060 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.