During a television interview on Sunday 27th February, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio stated that: “At the current moment it is not possible to evacuate the Italians still in Kiev”.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs calculates that currently there are around 1,900 Italian citizens in the Ukraine, including, at the time, approximately 100 in the embassy itself in Kiev.
For the time being the door is closed to institutional evacuations and the Crisis Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is monitoring the situation closely and preparing emergency plans for the Italians that still remain in the Ukraine.
The current situation highlights the importance of understanding how evacuation procedures work and how they should be integrated into an organisation’s emergency plans.
Over the past few weeks Pyramid Temi Group has assisted clients in preparing for and implementing evacuation plans from the Ukraine.
While tensions were rising, and thus the ‘red flags’ were apparent, the focus was on understanding and monitoring the ‘red lines’ that would determine the actuation of evacuation procedures.
Fortunately our assistance in both the development and implementation of evacuation procedures allowed clients to leave the country in an orderly manner, only our last evacuation, a land crossing to Romania, was characterised by operational difficulties which included missiles landing close to the evacuation route.
Preparing for an evacuation goes far beyond the logistics of physically removing staff from a location: residencies, offices and even factories have to be shut down according to precise criteria.
By definition this implies forward planning and an ability to stage the management of the evacuation in distinct phases.
No two scenarios are the same, however, the basic common denominators are a firm understanding of the core principles and access to reliable intelligence and advice.
Staff training is also essential, those working in areas where an evacuation could become a reality need not only to know the organisation’s procedures but need to be made familiar with them through simulations.
In an emergency situation decisions need to be made rapidly, but they should not be made in a panic. All involved need to be aware of the importance of correctly implementing procedures and a decision making structure has to be in place that allows for the efficient implementation of procedures. Top management should have a clear understanding that they can delegate operational responsibility but they remain accountable for all decisions made.
The decision making process is a team effort that relies on efficient communications and leadership. It is not a process that can be improvised and to that end has to be practiced through dry-runs and a focus on improvement through identifying weaknesses.
Pyramid Temi Group strongly advises those operating internationally, irrespective of their having a physical presence or simply travelling employees, to assure that they have a robust and updated evacuation management plan.
We can assist organisations in the development of procedures, staff training and simulations, reliable intelligence, and operational support.
The core of our operational capability is a network of regional hubs and trusted and qualified local correspondents. Our assistance operations over the past few weeks have involved coordinating with our partners in the Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria.
During our recent operations each local correspondent functioned as an integrated team member of a system where one country specialist was supported by a colleague in the neighbouring country. Ukrainian colleagues were assisted at border crossings by their in-country team members who took charge of the clients’ employees and assisted them with temporary accommodation, communications backup and onward travel arrangements.
The operations were successful due to the convergence of preparation, robust procedures, reliable intelligence updates, and our network of qualified, trustworthy operatives in several countries.