Medjet Health Update: Atypical Day on the Job in Burundi

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By: John Gobbels MedjetAssist VP/COO In early April 2015, FocusPoint International, Inc. (FPI) who provides Crisis Assistance Plus™ (CAP) for the MedjetAssist Horizon Program, was contacted by a combined FPI and Medjet client requesting assistance and support for personnel assigned to the country of Burundi, due to the escalating threat of political violence in that country. The country was scheduled to hold a presidential election in June 2015, and the current sitting president was expected to announce his candidacy for the office. Citizens and opposition leaders had begun to voice their discontent over this development, believing that the president was violating the country’s constitution. As political tensions mounted, citizens and opposition leaders initiated daily demonstrations in the capital city of Bujumbura, where the client’s staff and office were located. The demonstrations were becoming increasingly violent with several deaths reported and the police response to the demonstrations were themselves becoming increasingly violent. Consequently, FPI dispatched a Crisis Manager to Burundi on April 20, 2015 to meet with the client’s staff and develop contingency plans in anticipation of a potential evacuation scenario. Shortly after his arrival in-country, FPI’s crisis manager met with local contacts, UN personnel and U.S. State Department personnel to assess the ongoing situation. Based on ground-truth intelligence, the crisis manager developed contingency plans that included the evacuation of the client’s personnel to a neighboring country, as well as the identity of location(s) where personnel could safely shelter-in-place. On April 25th, President Nkurunziza, as expected, announced he would indeed run for a third term, citing a technicality in the constitution which he and his party believed allowed for this. This announcement was met with increased demonstrations and violence in the capital and elsewhere in the country. An estimated 40,000 citizens of Burundi began to evacuate to neighboring countries to flee the escalating violence, causing a humanitarian crisis in neighboring Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Due to the escalation in violence and the threat to FPI Clients, the crisis manager initiated the evacuation plan and successfully evacuated the country manager as well as staff and their dependents. This plan called for an overland evacuation of multiple personnel to Rwanda using a prearranged cover story as to why the personnel were traveling to Rwanda. On April 25th, FPI successfully executed the evacuation of all personnel that obtained the proper travel documentation from Burundi to a terminal safe haven located in neighboring Rwanda. The evacuation was monitored in real-time, via satellite communications and GPS equipment, through FPI’s Crisis Response Center (CRC) and Crisis Assistance Communication Center (CAPCOM) in the US. Concurrently, the client’s personnel who did not have proper travel authority, were moved to two pre-designated safe haven locations located near Bujumbura. The above is just one example of the benefits provided by FocusPoint International’s Crisis Assistance Plus™ and is available to Medjet members as part of Horizon, MedjetAssist’s newest Medical Transport – Travel Security and Crisis Assistance Membership Program. The world is an ever-changing place and Medjet is changing to meet those needs. For more information on Horizon visit medjethorizon.com