A call for crisis evacuation: A reflection on the ongoing Sudan conflict

Aspen’s George Barker outlines how responsive crisis support, coupled with robust evacuation plans and rapid responses, are paramount to safety and survival during crisis events.

The ongoing conflict and violence in Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces has put individuals and businesses in grave danger. Thousands of people are projected to be affected by the conflict's devastating consequences, which include widespread displacement, casualties and injuries. This has led to a humanitarian emergency near the Sudanese border, as well as broader implications for Northeastern Africa. These events have reiterated the significance of purchasing crisis evacuation insurance and the reassurance it can provide to organisations.

Increased volatility in global risk environments

While fierce armed conflict has disrupted many lives in Sudan, the effects of increased volatility on people and businesses are widespread. The escalation of civil unrest in Peru, gang violence and lawlessness in Haiti and armed conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia are a few examples of the worsening risk environments significantly affecting innocent civilians in 2023.

Instances of unrest and displacement are not attributed solely to political and civil violence; natural catastrophes, such as earthquakes (in Turkey, Syria and Indonesia), flooding (in New Zealand and Pakistan) and tropical cyclones (in Australia and the US), have also forced civilians to evacuate their homes and businesses in search of safety and refuge.

These unpredictable events are occurring more frequently, and many of them can be attributed to underlying factors such as climate change. This serves as a stark reminder that businesses have an obligation to exercise a duty of care to residents and foreign expatriates who are under their responsibility.

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has transformed the concept of ‘duty of care’ for businesses into a mindset of ‘do right by all’. Employees who are under the care and supervision of an organisation frequently face risks in volatile locations, necessitating the presence of enforceable plans for immediate evacuation in the event of a crisis. Companies are given an additional layer of protection by crisis evacuation insurance coverage, which supports them and their staff before, during and after a crisis.

Evacuation support

The emergence of the conflict in Sudan has highlighted, once again, the importance of access to quality crisis management advice for businesses. In Sudan, impacted companies have been faced with challenges and common crisis-driven issues, greatly hindering their ability to plan and move. These issues have included employees unable to communicate for up to 24 hours owing to internet and telecommunications disruption, as well as an economic collapse that rendered cash the only accepted form of payment.

Businesses also saw a shortage of local security assets, which has led to increased professional fees and difficulty obtaining upfront payments. These challenges emphasise the inadequacy frequently associated with a firm’s threat risk planning, and the growing need for crisis response experts to offer advice and ensure the proper processes and procedures are used to mitigate future risk.

The ongoing situation in Sudan was met with crisis response experts at Crisis24, a GardaWorld company, stepping up to provide evacuation support. They were compelled to construct evacuation plans immediately – considering aircraft, land-based and maritime possibilities – after their all hazards response team discovered several of their clients' employees were facing disruption and dislocation of assets.

Extreme threat levels made it difficult for residents of Khartoum to move about the city securely; as a result, sheltering in place was necessary, which decreased kinetic activity. However, this action created other issues: personnel quickly ran out of essential food, water and medication. The team managed the delivery of supplies, such as life-saving medications, which allowed the affected individuals to survive during this high-risk time.

The evacuation of US Embassy staff presented Crisis24 with an opportunity to enact evacuation plans for their clients’ impacted staff. The team supported these people in aerial and road evacuations, arranging temporary accommodations in Port Sudan and allowing the individuals to take refuge until a maritime option became available. Additionally, Crisis24 deployed a team to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to receive personnel arriving from Port Sudan, helping them with lodging and return travel arrangements.

The case for businesses incorporating such organisations as Crisis24 into their risk management strategy has, once again, been bolstered by the Sudan crisis. By preemptively seeking advice, organisations can prepare suitably for the unknown and meet their obligations regarding the duty of care owed to their employees throughout a crisis.

Proactive measures: Pre-empting and actioning for effective crisis response

In situations of crisis, personnel may need to be evacuated from unforeseen places swiftly. It is crucial for businesses to ensure their employees are not left waiting for a natural disaster or incident involving political or civil violence to occur before being moved out safely. Taking proactive measures through an insurance policy places a high emphasis on the well-being of those covered, offering peace of mind and assistance to policyholders.

Pre-emptive intervention can be very helpful in situations like floods, where isolated flooding can escalate into extensive and perilous water levels, posing a threat to homes and businesses. Another example would be volcanic eruptions, which are foreshadowed frequently by ground swelling, heightened seismic activity and steam or fumarolic activity at the volcano's crater. Employers can help prevent their employees from being exposed to life-threatening situations by recognising these symptoms and taking timely action.


Businesses operating in unstable, risk-prone environments or at any site that has the potential to become a danger zone can use the aid offered by crisis response organisations, in conjunction with the security provided by insurers as the cornerstone of risk management. By having well-defined policy triggers that allow for proactive measures to be implemented, maintaining consistent communication and support during times of disaster, and establishing connections that extend beyond the confines of a local business, organisations can find reassurance in their risk management approach.