Gestione dei rischi all'estero dei volontari delle ONG italiane

Risk Management: what can Italian NGOs to safeguard staff working abroad

After 18 long months of continuous doubt, anxiety and fear, the young Italian volunteer Silvia Romano has been reunited with her family, friends and colleagues.

Kidnaped from the Kenyan village of Chakama during an armed attack in which 5 local people were injured, she was transferred to Somalia and held by Islamist militants before finally being relaesed following lengthy and complex negotiations with her captors.

While Silvia can today begin a new chapter in her personal and professional life, a new chapter also needs to be opened in regards to the management of Non Governmental activities in complex environments such as Kenya where, as the case in question illustrates, the inherent risks also include the threat of abduction.

While we cannot under any circumstances shy away from the obligation of identifying a series of lessons learned, we must avoid the counterproductive temptation of polemic and non constructive criticism.

The reality of the fact is that Romano’s abduction was not the first of its kind, indeed there are a plethora of similar cases and this fact raises the question of both risk analysis and the capacity of organisations to mitigate and develop a capacity to manage crises.

To compound difficulties, one of the most obvious consequences of the current Covid-19 crisis is that non governmental organisations will be operating in environments where rising poverty levels will be accompanied by rising crime levels.

Without any shadow of doubt, as in 2015 Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs will play an important role in guiding non governmental organisations in regards as to how to address security concerns. The roundtable discussions of 2015 produced a series of precious guidelines and it is only to be expected that they will represent the basis of future discussions.

However, whilst awaiting a new round of interaction and debate, Italian non governmental organisations have the opportunity to begin addressing security considerations and measures to deal with them.

This is of fundamental importance as not only is it an ethical, moral and legal requirements in terms of Duty of Care towards staff working in the field, but is also a question of the very same organisation’s survival: a kidnapping or death can result in funds drying up leading to the organisation being unable to continue field operations.

As specifically regards the legal obligation, what holds true for a private company holds true for a non governmental organisation: management has a precise duty towards staff and will be charged with criminal negligence if an investigation concludes that the necessary security measures were not implemented.

Put quite simply, it is a case of those less fortunate being put at risk of no longer receiving precious support and assistance due to an organisation not implementing the steps necessary to protecting their field operators.

While nobody will suggest for a moment that they know and understand the local reality better than the organisation actually working there, the experience and professionality of the private sector can be of great assistance.

A security provider has to be thoroughly vetted, this means not only a careful examination of the company and their staff’s practical experience, but also the details of their proposed strategy including full respect for human rights in accordance with  ICOCA (International Code of Conduct Association) principals.

Another important factor is that of choosing a provider that can cover all of the specific considerations: at the very least the development of procedures, staff training (basic and advanced), special risk insurance (medical and crisis), briefings and risk analysis, and the capability to fully support the organisation during all phases of a crisis.

As specifically regards insurance, while for well-known reasons K&R cover cannot be offered to Italian companies, it is worth clearing a little ambiguity: while the insurance cover in question will reimburse a ransom payment, perhaps more importantly it will cover the costs of the specialist assistance offered during and after the kidnapping event. It should be remembered that there have been cases where the protracted length of negotiations have resulted in the cost of the specialist assistance being greater than the ransom payment itself.

 

Pyramid Temi Group is very well aware of the value of the important work conducted by the NGO sector. We are amongst the founder members of ICOCA and our advisory services conform with the best practices and guidelines developed and adopted by the most important international associations and organisations. We are also aligned with the ISO31030 standard currently under development by the ISO TC262 technical committee of which PTG is a member.

We assist non governmental organisations in all phases of security planning and management from the development of procedures to the training of frontline staff and on-site support during a crisis.

Please contact us directly for a copy of our vadecum and description of our NGO support services.


An Evolving Crisis - Regional Updates. Country Status Report #6: Lebanon

Over the coming weeks Pyramid Temi Group will be publishing a series of updates from our regional hubs. The objective of the updates is to deliver informed comment and insight from our experts as to how a series of countries are addressing the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) emergency.

If you would like the updates delivered directly to your email box please sign-up to service by clicking here

Please note that in addition to the Covid-19 updates, those who sign-up to the service will receive a complimentary copy of our updated country report.


As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread, we spoke with the Managing Director at Pyramid Temi Group’s local partner company in the Lebanon to understand more about the current situation and which issues will become the most critical over the coming months.


Q: How is the population reacting to the spread of the virus?

A: Almost all civilians are abiding by the Government’s orders to stay in their homes and work remotely from there. However, a few days ago Riots re-emerged due to the losses of the Lebanese Pound against the United States Dollar.

 

Q: Which system has been adopted by the provincial government?
A:
I would say that it is in many ways similar to the system adopted in the UK.

 

Q: Would you agree that no one/single suits all and thus individual governments must devise their own specific strategies? Which factors define your country?

A: The Chinese decision to implement a total lock down on the nation thus preventing an uncontrolled spread of the Covid-19 virus fits well with the Lebanese culture.

Q: How are people reacting to your government’s choice?

A: People are reacting positively and believe that it was the best decision to quarantine the whole nation. However, currently a part of those that are on the breach of poverty are back on the streets rioting again.

 

Q: Are people following government instructions?

A: Almost all are abiding the government instructions.

 

Q: Please describe how the private sector is being affected by the present status.

A: The private sector is suffering considerably from the consequences of the current situation. A lot of work has almost come to a stop and only the minimum is being done. Movements are limited to the absolute minimum and many in the private sector have started adapting having employees work remotely from their homes. Another strategy is rotation where only one employee is allowed to work in their department at a time, due to this reduced work flow companies are laying employees off or are going bankrupt.

 

Q: Has the government enlisted the assistance of the private security sector?
A:
No, only government forces.

Q: What’s on your radar screen, do you have any particular fears or concerns?
A: 
The main concern is that a number of civilians are not acting as they should and that the riots taking place can lead to COVID-19 spreading across the country, a scenario that would be difficult to contain. We need to remain on high alert, manage the prices of commodity goods carefully, and make sure that civilians take the Covid-19 outbreak seriously.

 

DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the interviewee. They are published in good faith and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PTG. 


An Evolving Crisis - Regional Updates. Country Status Report #5: Kenya

Over the coming weeks Pyramid Temi Group will be publishing a series of updates from our regional hubs. The objective of the updates is to deliver informed comment and insight from our experts as to how a series of countries are addressing the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) emergency.

If you would like the updates delivered directly to your email box please sign-up to service by clicking here

Please note that in addition to the Covid-19 updates, those who sign-up to the service will receive a complimentary copy of our updated country report.


 

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread, we spoke with the Managing Director at Pyramid Temi Group’s local partner company in Kenya to understand more about the current situation and which issues will become the most critical over the coming months.


Q: How is the population reacting to the spread of the virus?

A: In general the majority of the population are abiding to all control measures. However, in the poorer and more overpopulated slums, they tend to try and fight the curfews in particular.

 

Q: Which system has been adopted by the provincial government?
A:
I would say that it is similar to the system adopted in the UK.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta

Q: Would you agree that no one/single suits all and thus individual governments must devise their own specific strategies? Which factors define your country?

A: The Government acted early from lessons learned in the USA and Europe. So the spread has been slow and managed well.

 

Q: How are people reacting to your government’s choice?

A: On the whole people are welcoming the actions that have been taken.

 

 

 

Q: Are people following government instructions?

A: On the whole yes they are.

 

Q: Please describe how the private sector is being affected by the present status.

A: The private sector is being affected by many people having to work from home. The country’s infrastructure is underdeveloped and so it presents a number of challenges. The level of economic decline, especially in Nairobi which is the commercial hub of Kenya, is worrying.

Q: Has the government enlisted the assistance of the private security sector?
A:
Not yet and it is not clear if this will change.

 

Q: What’s on your radar screen, do you have any particular fears or concerns?
A: 
The duration of the lockdown, the longer it is imposed the more the economy will be damaged. I’m also concerned about a potential breakdown in civil society in general, the poorest can not live hand to mouth and employees are struggling to keep business alive.

 

DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the interviewee. They are published in good faith and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PTG. 


Adapting to Covid-19: Lessons Learned from Kidnapping

Mark Lowe

08/04/2020

When I first read this article I was struck by it’s timeliness and validity. I’ve asked the author’s permission to publish it on LinkedIn because I believe that it offers us all a series of valid and topical reflection points.

The author, Sue Williams QPM, needs little introduction but for those of us who don’t know Sue allow me to point out that after 27 years as a qualified Hostage Negotiator her extensive experience of kidnapping and hostage taking scenarios is extremely valuable.

When Sue left the Metropolitan Police she held the position of Head of the Hostage Crisis Negotiation Unit. Since leaving public duty, Sue has acted as a specialist consultant to families, companies and Non Governmental Organisations that have had to deal with kidnappings.

In addition to her charity and pro bono work, Sue is a Visiting Lecturer at Harvard Humanitarian Academy in Boston (USA) and an Associate Fellow of the Saïd Business School (University of Oxford).

Her LinkedIn profile can be accessed here: Sue Williams


Adapting to Covid-19: Lessons Learned from Kidnapping

All across the world, we are enduring extreme social distancing and isolation as our governments and health services fight COVID-19. I have been working for many years with people who have been kidnapped, people who have been held hostage, people who have had to learn to adapt to survive.

There are similarities with where we find ourselves today, vast numbers of us, forced to stay at home. So, what are the lessons to be learnt from ‘conduct after capture’ techniques and the parallels that could help us survive this ordeal?

If you are unlucky enough to be kidnapped and held hostage, you can expect to feel a combination of the following:

  • An almost paralysing fear of being harmed or death;
  • Continuing panic, loneliness and disbelief;
  • Depression occasioned by the knowledge that you have no control over this situation, and you do not know when it is going to end;
  • Internal stress created by the uncertainty of regular food and drink;
  • Desperate longing to be back with your family and friends; and
  • An obsessive reflection on the normal and routine aspects of your life, things you have so often taken for granted.

The extraordinary times of this virus do have some stark similarities to a hostage situation. In all probability you may be experiencing one or more of the above. Although our isolation is to a certain extent voluntary, and is happening for our own good and the good of our society, human beings are social creatures. Especially in times of crisis, so it is natural to crave for the company of our friends and family. That urge to be together makes us who we are.

So, let me stress that these are normal reactions to an abnormal temporary situation. Allow yourself to feel what you feel. You are not weak. You are you. Everyone experiences, if not all these things, then at least some of them. What you feel is an honest response to a difficult moment. Don’t beat yourself up. In this case your mission is to acknowledge where you are and then adapt and survive.

To give yourself the best chance of surviving, be kind to yourself. Each one of us responds differently. Your reaction will not be the same reaction as your partner’s, or your friend’s on WhatsApp, or a colleague on the phone. Be kind to them too, diffuse tension, don’t’ escalate it.

Recognize what you are feeling from the list above. This recognition will help you come to grips with what is, without doubt, difficult for everyone. Realize that you are experiencing a natural reaction to an unnatural situation.

The most important thing is to remember to be who you are. Never lose sight of this. Your normal life has routines, standards. Be that person.

Do not slip into a dishevelled, sloppy person who has used the situation to give up in some way, someone you don’t recognise. Plan a structure, a daily routine. This must include:

  • Personal hygiene – start each day in your normal way;
  • Appearance – look in the mirror and see who you usually see;
  • Keep mentally active – don't slump in front of daytime TV. Find a way to challenge yourself;
  • Stay up to date with medication;
  • Make sure you have adequate food and drink at usual meal-times – if you are on your own, really try to make a special effort with this;
  • Communicate with your friends and relatives. We are all so busy. Use this extra time to reach out to people with whom you may have lost touch;
  • Exercise, a lot can be achieved in an hour. Plan out a routine for yourself, or if you’re online, and most of us are, join a live stream class - something most hostages don’t have access to;
  • Maintain a sense of purpose and value. It’s hard for us to plan for the future, when we don’t know when things will get back to normal. But we do know they will, so this time may be useful to evaluate how you feel about what gives you purpose and value. Try and use those values to how you approach this difficult time; and
  • Knowledge is power, so keep well informed. Read outside your own comfort zone. Look at what is happening in other countries. Instead of waiting to have the news interpreted for you, compare and contrast stories from different news organisations yourself.

It is also important to plan for the long haul. If you think this will be over in two weeks and it drifts on for two months, or longer, this will add to your own psychological strain. So, lower your expectations to avoid disappointment. Expect months and you’ll be happy when it’s weeks.

Many former hostages I know adopted a combination of different coping mechanisms, some wrote plays, music, or played chess with discarded objects. People are amazing. They can achieve great things in very restricted and arduous circumstances.

So many people say, I never have the time to... Well now you do. Use that time to focus the mind and learn something different. Come out of this better and stronger. How could this apply to you? What could you do? Hold that thought. Write it down. Look at the words you’ve put on the paper. Look at them again tomorrow morning.

And one more thing, don’t forget, the longer your period in captivity, the more opportunities arise for a safe resolution and your return to freedom. Repeat that to yourself. The longer this goes on, the more likely it is that you will avoid the virus yourself and will survive.

Outside, other people are working hard to fix this, to help you, to help us all return to a normal life. Trust this because it is true. This time will pass. This is all temporary. You have not been forgotten.

Stay calm, stay safe. Adapt. Survive.

Sue Williams QPM

Associate Fellow

Saïd Business School

University of Oxford

 


Read the article on Linked In HERE


An Evolving Crisis - Regional Updates. Country Status Report #4: Bangladesh

Over the coming weeks Pyramid Temi Group will be publishing a series of updates from our regional hubs. The objective of the updates is to deliver informed comment and insight from our experts as to how a series of countries are addressing the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) emergency.

If you would like the updates delivered directly to your email box please sign-up to service by clicking here

Please note that in addition to the Covid-19 updates, those who sign-up to the service will receive a complimentary copy of our updated country report.


As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread, we spoke with the Managing Director at Pyramid Temi Group’s local partner company in Bangladesh to understand more about the current situation and which issues will become the most critical over the coming months.


Q: How is the population reacting to the spread of the virus?

A: The majority of the population are making efforts to keep the spread of the virus to a minimum. No one is complaining. I’d say that the great majority of people are just going along with what they are told to do.

Q: Which system has been adopted by the provincial government?
A:
It is probably closest to the Chinese strategy.

 

Q: Would you agree that no one/single suits all and thus individual governments must devise their own specific strategies? Which factors define your country?

A: The Chinese impose harsh fines for non compliance and have issued very clear instructions. Everyone understands the severity of the crisis and listens to the advice. Hong Kong got hit hard in 2003 with SARS so the people take Covid 19 extremely seriously. There are some lessons to be learned from China’s strategy that can be applied to all countries.

 

 

Q: How are people reacting to your government’s choice?

A: Heeding the advice and complying with the measures and instructions. 

 

Q: Are people following government instructions?

A: Yes, on the whole I would say that they are.

Q: Please describe how the private sector is being affected by the present status.

A: It is very hard to say. Everyone has been advised to reduce the number of employees in the office at any one time. There is very little international business being done.

 

Q: Has the government enlisted the assistance of the private security sector?
A:
Not yet.

 

Q: What’s on your radar screen, do you have any particular fears or concerns?
A: 
As a company we are focusing on a return to business as soon as the all clear is given. Many international clients have indicated their eagerness to get executive personnel back on the road. However, there are a number of companies that do not qualify for financial support from the government so anything longer than 4 to 6 months could have a crippling impact on a great number of companies.

 

DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the interviewee. They are published in good faith and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PTG. 


An Evolving Crisis - Regional Updates. Country Status Report #3: Spain

Over the coming weeks Pyramid Temi Group will be publishing a series of updates from our regional hubs. The objective of the updates is to deliver informed comment and insight from our experts as to how a series of countries are addressing the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) emergency.

If you would like the updates delivered directly to your email box please sign-up to service by clicking here

Please note that in addition to the Covid-19 updates, those who sign-up to the service will receive a complimentary copy of our updated country report.


As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread, we spoke with the Managing Director at Pyramid Temi Group’s local partner company in Spain to understand more about the current situation and which issues will become the most critical over the coming months.


Q: How is the population reacting to the spread of the virus?

A: The population has understood, contrary to the initial opinion, that the virus is more lethal than expected and above all has a destructive potential that could lead to the collapse of the health service. The population now have understood that it has to be protected even at the cost of an economic recession. At this point the general population is ready to obey and implement any measures decided upon by the government.

Q: Which system has been adopted by the provincial government?
A:
One very similar to the Italian system has been adopted.

 

Q: Would you agree that no one/single suits all and thus individual governments must devise their own specific strategies? Which factors define your country?

A: I agree up to a point. The South Korean system has shown to be the most successful for developed countries and should be adopted as early as possible. Individual governments did not have clear continuity plans. However, I agree that every country should implement a cultural/local adaptation as the main strategy.

Amongst the factors that define the Spanish reality are: Political instability which makes hard decisions even harder to adopt; territorial tensions in some regions (Catalonia, Basque country) create distortions; and some level of initial rejection to Army, Police and Authority.

 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez

Q: How are people reacting to your government’s choice?

A: The vast majority comply with the confinement measures although only 30% support the Government of the Socialist Party (PSOE), which has made serious forecasting errors and is in part guilty of disinformation. Without doubt, at the beginning the government delayed its strategy and decisions were taken too late, this created a widespread loss of credibility. 

 

Q: Are people following government instructions?

A: 99% are following, and they are also reporting non-compliance activities and promoting actions for unity, solidarity and patriotism as well, something unknown here in recent decades.

 

Q: Please describe how the private sector is being affected by the present status.

A: IBEX35 Spanish Stock Exchange has lost 25% of its value. 2-3 million jobs are expected to be suspended during the coronavirus crisis. Some of the most powerful industries in Spain are the most affected by the crisis and have been closed by Government: Tourism, Airlines, Commerce, Culture and Leisure. The rest of the companies can continue operating but a lower demand is expected in the next months.

 

Q: Has the government enlisted the assistance of the private security sector?
A:
The Government has made few decisions regarding the involvement of the private sector, except for the control of private hospitals and the use of hotels as medical centers. Regarding the private security sector, the MININT (Ministry of Interior) has given some instructions for coordination between private and public security.

 

Q: What’s on your radar screen, do you have any particular fears or concerns?
A: 
The undervaluation of the crisis by the Spanish Government and the lack of early decisions will cause the crisis in Spain to be more serious than in other countries.

Confinement and economic paralysis is unfortunately the most effective measure to stop the spread and to shorten the critical phase of the crisis, therefore the economic recovery will be very slow and costly.

There is also the need to develop strategic sector plans for the protection of Critical Infrastructure. The crisis will pass but its effects will produce very important social and economic changes. Healthcare will become a strong issue on political agendas at the expense of others, such as migration. The technological sectors, the internet, the cloud will receive a boost with respect to labor-intensive sectors.

 

DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the interviewee. They are published in good faith and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PTG. 


An Evolving Crisis - Regional Updates. Country Status Report #2: Pakistan

Over the coming weeks Pyramid Temi Group will be publishing a series of updates from our regional hubs. The objective of the updates is to deliver informed comment and insight from our experts as to how a series of countries are addressing the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) emergency.

If you would like the updates delivered directly to your email box please sign-up to service by clicking here

Please note that in addition to the Covid-19 updates, those who sign-up to the service will receive a complimentary copy of our updated country report.


As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread, we spoke with the Managing Director at Pyramid Temi Group’s local partner company in Pakistan to understand more about the current situation and which issues will become the most critical over the coming months.

 

Q: How is the population reacting to the spread of the virus?

A: The majority of the population is poverty stricken and cannot afford to survive without government support. They are being guided and educated through various forums about how to avoid the spread of the virus, advice includes practicing social distancing, the use of sanitizers and disinfectants, wearing face masks and using gloves. But due to a shortage of these necessities many people are still without the essentials and are possible carriers of the virus.

The first to implement full lockdown was the Sindh province, social distancing measures were also introduced and the local health sector educated people about various preventive measures as follows:

  1. Respect social distancing;
  2. Remain at home;
  3. Increase the washing of hands with soap and sanitizer;
  4. Use a mask when in close proximity to a suspected carrier or patient.

 

Q: Which system has been adopted by the provincial government?
A:
The Chinese model.

 

Q: Would you agree that no one/single suits all and thus individual governments must devise their own specific strategies? Which factors define your country?

A: Every country should devise their own strategy to fight Covid-19. This will depend on the local culture, in our country the Government must play the leading role in controlling the spread of the virus instead of leaving it up to the public in accordance to their cultural practices.

Q: How are people reacting to your provincial government’s choice?

A: Section 144 has been imposed and there is a partial lockdown. Besides medical stores, clinics and hospitals, the grocery stores are allowed to remain open to provide food to the population during daytime hours. It was requested that movements within the city be restricted to essential business only, but the public is not taking it seriously and is defying the government’s strict orders to remain at home. The low income population is particularly badly affected with this lockdown order.

 

Q: Are people following government instructions?

A: Not really. Most of the people do not believe that they will become infected and are not taking precautionary measures. This may lead to a situation where government agencies will not be able to handle the consequences of ignoring social distancing.

 

Q: Please describe how the private sector is being affected by the present status.

A: All private businesses are directly affected due to lockdown as they have been ordered to remain closed for two weeks. To keep the company operations running people are doing their best to work from home but their ability to do so is limited. Presently aid is only available to poor families, support for a number of industrial and agricultural sectors has been announced but it is meager. The private security sector is unlikely to benefit from government support.

 

Q: Has the government enlisted the assistance of the private security sector?
A:
The government has called for the assistance of various agencies including the Armed Forces, Rangers and Police but have not enlisted the assistance of the private security sector.

 

Q: What’s on your radar screen, do you have any particular fears or concerns?
A: 
More than 500 new cases have been reported in less than a week, this hints towards a catastrophe like the situation in Italy. The government is making every effort but cannot fight the virus alone and needs the cooperation of the citizens. The lockdown situation seems to persist due to more and more cases emerging every day. The government is requesting the citizens to cooperate and follow instruction, otherwise, the government would be left with no option but to impose curfews.

At this moment in time cooperation is crucial as the virus is spreading rapidly due to the careless nature of a considerable number of people. The lives of doctors, nurses and paramedic staff as well as law enforcers are at risk as they are on the frontline and dealing directly with people who have been diagnosed as having contracted COVID-19. A successful outcome depends on the people of Pakistan taking the situation seriously and practicing social distancing as well as strictly following the self-isolation scheme.

 

 

DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the interviewee. They are published in good faith and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PTG. 


An Evolving Crisis -Regional Updates. Country Status Report #1: Turkey

Over the coming weeks Pyramid Temi Group will be publishing a series of updates from our regional hubs. The objective of the updates is to deliver informed comment and insight from our experts as to how a series of countries are addressing the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) emergency.

If you would like the updates delivered directly to your email box please sign-up to service by clicking here.

Please note that in addition to the Covid-19 updates, those who sign-up to the service will receive a complimentary copy of our updated country report.


Andy Williams

The worldwide impact of Covid-19 has not spared Turkey. We spoke with the Managing Director at Pyramid Temi Group’s local partner company, and Andy Williams, Regional hub Director for Turkey and the Near East, to understand more about what the current situation actually is and which issues will be the most critical over the coming months.

Q: Over the past few days Turkey has confirmed a number of cases of COVID-19 within its borders. As part of the containment strategy, Ankara has decided to suspend all passenger flights to and from almost 50 countries including China, Italy and South Korea. Do you expect this to be enlarged to other countries or for other measures to be introduced?

A: In addition to the ban on passenger flights from these countries foreign citizens who were physically present in these countries in the last 14 days are not permitted to transit or enter Turkey. As regards Turkish citizens, including dual nationals, who were in these countries over the past 14 days they are allowed to enter Turkey but may be subject to a quarantine requirement.

 

Q: What other containment measures have been put in place?

A: The Government of Turkey closed its land borders with Iran and Iraq, as well as the Dilucu land border crossing. Turkish Ministry of Health officials screen travellers at airports and maritime ports, as well as some land crossings, using thermal cameras. To date, travellers do not need any specific health documentation to enter or exit Turkey but that may change.

Turkish Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca

 

Q: What’s the situation as regards  Quarantine measures?:

A: If an individual presents COVID-19 symptoms, the Turkish Ministry of Health guidelines are to send that person to a designated hospital for testing and possible observation under quarantine for 14 days. On March 12, the Turkish government announced that all primary, middle and high schools (public and private) will close effective March 16, and these schools will begin online/distance learning beginning the week of March 23.  Additionally, all universities were closed on March 16 for an initial period of three weeks. Another interesting measure that the Government implemented regards thousands of pilgrims returning from Saudi Arabia who were taken into quarantine due to concerns about the spread of Covid-19.

 

Q: Quarantining several thousand pilgrims is a huge logistical challenge, how has it been conducted?

A: Television pictures showed buses transporting pilgrims along the highway from Ankara's airport to the city as part of an operation to place those returning into student dormitories. The Youth and Sports Ministry stated that the pilgrims were to be kept under observation for 14 days in five different student dormitories - in the capital Ankara and the central Turkish city of Konya. Closing the universities for three weeks has created the capacity to host over 10,000 people in the dormitories, those that weren’t fully empty transferred the remaining students to other dormitories.

 

Q: Andy, as regional hub director for Turkey and the Near East you’re monitoring the situation closely, how is the Turkish population reacting to the spread of the virus?

A: At 9pm every night the whole of Turkey clap and applaud for doctors and nurses. This is announced on the public TV. There are public broadcast advertisements thanking security guards, cleaners and transport workers for ‘working so we can stay safe’. This is a good example of how the Turkish people are reacting. Turkey is a proud nationalist country and if an external crisis impacts the country then all Turks come together to support each other.

Turkey is also a faith-based country and the nation combines faith with nationalism to see themselves through a crisis.

 

Q: Which system is being enforced by the Turkish Government, the Chinese, South Korean, Italian or UK strategy?

A: As Turkey was behind the infection curve they had time to see what each nation was doing and what worked. The Turkish people are more disciplined and compliant to directions from their government, such as the Chinese, so long as they feel the government is not enforcing them to the extreme. Therefore, whole sections of the population will lock down and self isolate. As the country is an Executive Presidency, quick, unilateral and countrywide decisions can be made if necessary for the greater good, such as quarantining people on mass by relocating them to quarantine camps if necessary, as happened with plane loads of pilgrims returning from Makkah.

Turkey is one of the youngest populations in continental Europe with only 8% of the population  over 65, therefore they can more easily control and isolate the population. Any comparison with Italy, which has the second oldest population in the world, cannot be made.

While testing has been increased, it started later than in South Korea and Germany when they were at similar stages. The government has directed all private hospitals to become pandemic clinics to build greater capacity in anticipation of higher infections.

Q: How are people reacting to the Government’s choice and are people following government instructions?

A: Turkey is an inherently paternal society (Ataturk means father of Turks) and on the whole citizens take note of what their government tells them. At the moment people are following government instructions without any need of government enforcement measures and the situation is calm.

There is a "stay at home at all times" curfew for the over 65’s. If they are seen to be outside they can be fined and returned home.

 

 

Q: How is the private sector being affected by the present status?

A: The same as in Europe and the rest of the world, a temporary economic turndown across all sectors as the country is told to self isolate.

 

Q: Has the Government enlisted the assistance of the private security sector?

A: The business model of much of Turkey’s economy is based on a public private partnership approach, especially on infrastructure projects. The private security sector is one of the biggest employers in Turkey and is already established in working with the government.

 

Q: In terms of forecasts, what’s on your radar screen, do you have any particular fears or concerns?

A: Short-term so long as the internet and wifi connection works and public utilities provide electricity and essential services there are no concerns as the Turks will work with each other against an external crisis rather than against each other. So long as the young have the internet and wifi they will feel connected.

Long-term it is the same as all countries around the world, if the good of current self isolation and social distance is undone by irreversibly breaking the economy and fabric of society, then things could turn ugly.

PTG Global Hub Network

 

DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the interviewees. They are published in good faith and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PTG. 


An Evolving Crisis - Cultural Awareness: Covid-19

Over the coming weeks Pyramid Temi Group will be publishing a series of updates from our regional hubs. The objective is to deliver informed comment and insight from our experts as to how a series of countries are addressing the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) emergency.

To launch the series we’ve asked Pyramid Temi Group CEO Roger Warwick to comment on why there is a difference to each country’s response to the emergency.

If you would like future updates delivered directly to your email box please sign-up to the option by clicking here.

Please note that in addition to the Covid-19 updates, those who sign-up to the service will receive a complimentary copy of our updated country report.


 

Cultural Awareness: What can the international response to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic teach us about local cultures?

When advising on Travel Security issues we place significant emphasis on the importance of cultural awareness, the current Covid-19 pandemic has led a great number of nations to impose a series of measures and restrictions on their citizens and, to be effective, these measures have to take the local realities into consideration.

Roger Warwick

We asked Roger Warwick, CEO of the Pyramid Temi Group, to comment on these considerations and what lessons can be learned from Italy, China, South Korea, and the United Kingdom’s responses to the current emergency.

 

PTG: Would you agree that no single solution suits all and thus individual governments must devise their own specific strategies?

RW: This is exactly the case, we have seen how the Chinese response appears to have been highly efficient because the social structure responds to commands from above and news is efficiently filtered. Aside from the student revolt in 1989 which culminated in the Tiananmen Square incident, modern China has no history of social revolt and Chinese citizens know that they cannot rebel against orders as they will be severely punished. For example the door-to-door checks and enforced quarantine in government structures as recently seen in China cannot be done in democratic nations.

 

PTG: Is it correct to say that a government’s response has to be based on the local reality and that in particular cultural concerns must be taken into consideration?

RW: We do need to study the local realities and they can only be understood by taking some historical facts and moments into consideration. Let me make a quite radical example that illustrates the point. During the Second World War the British Government chose to focus investments on building anti-aircraft batteries around London as opposed to creating air-raid shelters for the local population. In 1939 Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s military advisors expected aerial bombardments to be far greater than they actually turned out to be, the decision was thus made to ‘sacrifice’ a part of the population in favour of focusing investments on aerial defence measures. In a certain fashion, the current UK Government appears to be reasoning with a similar mentality in an attempt to protect the nation at the expense of the weaker members of the community - this has a certain logic but it would most certainly not be accepted in a country with a strong Catholic culture.

 

PTG: Which factors define Italy’s response to the current emergency and how do they differ from China and the UK’s?

RW: It’s easy for us to criticise the mistakes that have been made but we should consider that, apart from this being unchartered territory for all, and I mean all, Italy is governed by two parties that ran as opponents in the elections, each with its own agenda and they are up against a strong and vociferous opposition. The Italian Government attempted to bring in measures that, they hoped, would achieve something without upsetting too many, as have other governments around the world. No need to cite examples. They should, in my opinion, have created a “National Unity” emergency government that included the opposition. If you keep your adversary close and involve them in decision making, you will have less noisy opposition to every decision made and you will be able to enact unpopular decisions without the opposition leaders screaming.

The error was in not taking the gloves off and considering this to be a war right from the start.

China is a totalitarian state with all the strengths and weaknesses that this implies i.e. blind obedience but the risk of collapse if you lose control. This has made it essential and possible for the rulers to implement measures that would be impossible in democracies. On the other hand, the rulers have far more to lose if they are not successful. The flaw in the system was the fact that local rulers tried to cover up and resolve the problem in-house in order to avoid being punished by central government. This would have been less likely and possibly impossible to do in a democracy. In short, the Chinese lost a month but then moved in with artillery. It is interesting to note that Xi Jing disappeared from the radar screen until the tide started to turn.

The UK has a government that is focused on one thing only, BREXIT. Boris Johnson hoped that the Covid-19 matter would blow over so he could get back to business. It hasn’t, so now something, a lot, has to be done. He is making off-the-cuff comments, such as “We will see results within 12 weeks” and is giving voice to some of the comments made by the scientific community such as The Herd process before having sufficiently examined the concept. Unlike Italy, the UK has a weak and divided opposition looking for a new leader. This gives further powers, de facto, to the government without the risks run by totalitarian rulers if things should go wrong.

PTG: What are the most critical concerns that these governments have had to take into consideration, what worries them most in terms of the public’s response?

RW:  I’ve approached this in answering the previous question. In short Italy; how to achieve steel fisted results without taking off their gloves. China; how to maintain absolute power if the measures taken don’t work. UK; the Government doesn’t appear to be that worried about public response. They are overestimating their power and popularity.

 

PTG: At this point in time are there any foreseeable risks of social unrest and if so how will the local authorities react?

RW: If the Italian Government is intelligent enough to bring on board the opposition they can blame Europe for everything and there will be no violent social unrest.  They are talking about a new Marshall Plan but have not taken into account that Italy is no longer the first and last line of defence against the Soviet Union, something Bettino Craxi underestimated after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but that’s another story, so there won’t be an airlift and blank cheques.

China.  It looks like the Chinese rulers are weathering the storm well so if no surprises this could just mean a hierarchy reshuffle, and restructuring, then back to business as usual.

As regards the UK this is a big question mark. Over the past 70 years and more the British have relied on the myth of being invincible but things have changed. If the government organises itself properly and achieves results there will be no social unrest. The country will bind together and continue. If, on the other hand, the emergency response is a complete disaster then spontaneous, non-party-led, movements could spring up and be violent.

As said before, this is very much unchartered territory.

 

PTG: When we emerge from the current emergency what changes will we find, are there any particular social issues, such as delusion over leadership’s actions, that might cause problems in the future?

RW: Scientific advice and political agendas are strange bedfellows at the best of times. In Italy we’ve seen some pretty bad examples of science and politics being at loggerheads. Will this change? Will people rise up against their deluding politicians? I would imagine that this will be down to the number of dead and the number of starving, homeless, and out of work survivors.


Business Continuity - Coronavirus

Business Continuity during the Coronavirus pandemic. Andy Williams sets out key principles for business continuity planning. Read the article in Italian at https://www.travelforbusiness.it/2020/02/24/business-travel-continuity 

 

English version below:

Covid-19 (Coronavirus), has now reached Italy and is anticipated to spread across Europe. Despite the fact that pneumonia kills thousands each year, the unknown nature and apparent exoticness of the new virus is creating public panic.

The public are also employees of companies and when people fear for their health one of two things happen – either companies come second and they stay at home or they look for companies for help and advice.

As the virus spreads more and longer employees start to become anxious about their job as well as their own and their family’s health.
This is where the importance of business continuity planning comes into play for all sizes of companies in all sectors, especially labour intensive business and business that rely on travel and face to face meetings.

The old saying, "those who fail to plan are those who plan to fail" is never more true than now. If you do not have a pandemic business continuity plan already in place, now is the time to start.

Here are some priority points to consider and help decide what is business critical and a priority to get your company a through a short, medium or long term coronavirus pandemic escalation.

Information: Ensure your management teams are provided with factually correct and consistent information and advice on the virus from an accredited medical organisation or government agency: not social media or the general news media. Bad news and information increases panic and spreads, correct news and information reassures and calms. Prepare FAQ’s for employees and links to information services as described.

Well-being and support: Be proactive in providing accredited advice on preventative hygiene and recognising symptoms relating to the virus for all employees. Include regular updates and allocate a team to respond to enquiries from employees in both written and verbal format.

Supply Chain: Forecast both your personnel and product supply chain for worst case business disruption and best-case business resumption in the short, medium and long term. List out what is business critical and minimum to the business without cutting too deeply into the bone that you are unable to walk and run quickly again when business returns to normal.

IT Infrastructure and Cyber Security: if the solution is to redeploy employees to work from home and remotely. Ensure the IT infrastructure, cloud storage and bandwidth capacity is in place for employees engaged prioritised for remote working business critical functions to do so. Mandate and provide easy instructions on setting up and using VPN’s. Provide refresher training on Cyber and Information security.

Equipment and Utility Servicing: If you have equipment and utilities due annual servicing or preventative maintenance, do it now while the service is available, especially for air conditioning in anticipation of summer weather if the disruption is medium term.

Pandemic Essential Supplies: Order handwash disinfectant and other pandemic essential supplies now, before there is a rush on their supply if the situation is looking medium term. You can never have enough handwash disinfectant.

Scenario Planning: With your management team, conduct scenario planning for worst case impact of pandemic in short, medium and long term. Ensure scenario plans take into account all these points and any others specific to your business to keep it running, treading water or surviving in contingency mode until business is back to normal.

Readiness for Recovery: When business is back to normal, those who travel first will be welcomed the most.