Security Situation in Nicaragua
WorldAware began monitoring the security situation in Nicaragua on April 18, 2018, in response to President Daniel Ortega announcing several reforms to the Institute of Social Security (INSS). The reforms included a reduction in pension payments and an increase in employer and employee contributions to the system. The announcement sparked fighting between protesters, security forces, and government supporters; initial clashes injured at least 12 people. Tensions escalated over the next several days and, on April 23, multiple foreign governments issued travel advisories for Nicaragua due to ongoing violent protests. Many of the protests occurred on university campuses led by university students, creating a heightened security risk for any students studying in the country.
Coordination of Evacuation Challenge
A US-based university had six students and one faculty member studying in Nicaragua when the situation began to deteriorate. The university initiated an incident alert through their medical/security insurance company, a WorldAware partner. After failing to contact the students or faculty within 48 hours, WorldAware’s insurance partner activated an assistance request with WorldAware’s Global Response and Assistance team.
The coordination of this evacuation involved several challenges, including degraded communications, frequent and changing roadblocks, and a volatile security situation.
WorldAware in Action
WorldAware formed an Incident Management Team (IMT) within an hour of being contacted by their insurance partner and assigned a dedicated Incident Manager (IM) to lead the operation from start to finish In the first step of the operation the IMT successfully contacted the students and faculty member, ensured they had adequate supplies, and established a communication and safety check-in schedule until they could be safely transported out of the country. Several modes of communication were used with the evacuees including, phone, text, email, and WhatsApp to establish initial contact and maintain regular check-ins. Once the location and status of the evacuees had been established, the IM then analyzed the risk profile of the environment including where the individuals were located and specific challenges of the area. Using the overall risk profile, the IM designed an appropriate security plan and coordinated security partners and other team members to dedicate resources according to the plan’s needs.
With the help of in-country security resources and WorldAware analysts, the IMT identified hostile checkpoints and planned routes around those points to minimize risk exposure. The Incident Manager maintained communications with both the university and the students/faculty throughout the mission and coordinated secure transportation and commercial flights back to the US. Despite degraded communications, roadblocks, and the volatile security situation, WorldAware was able to safety transport the faculty and students to Costa Rica within 12 hours of initial contact with the university, where they were able to return to the US by commercial airline. WorldAware continued to monitor their flight and provided situational reports to the university from the beginning of the operation until the students and faculty arrived at their final destination in Houston, TX.
The evacuation used WorldAware’s signature Rapid Response Planning Process (R2P2) model. By using a standard, repeatable process, WorldAware was able to move seven people safely back to the US. The total operation time from the initial outreach by WorldAware’s partner to the safe return home for these individuals was less than 72 hours.
Members of the IMT delivered a successful outcome by providing project oversight, ensuring seamless communication, and coordinating all activities throughout the operation. Helping the faculty member and students evacuate by ground to Costa Rica – where they could leave through normal, commercial means – helped the university and the insurance partner save time and money while still ensuring the safety of those in WorldAware’s care.
WorldAware provides intelligence-driven, integrated risk management solutions that enable multinational organizations to operate globally with confidence. WorldAware’s end-to-end tailored solutions, integrated world-class threat intelligence, innovative technology, and response services help organizations mitigate risk and protect their people, assets, and reputations.
 WorldAware’s Rapid Response Planning Process is how we plan and coordinate for sudden impact events to ensure the safe, efficient, and effective rapid deployment of resources