On February 5, 2019, Haiti’s Council of Ministers declared a state of economic emergency as a result of a declining economy and the government’s implementation of austerity measures relating to the use of government resources. Opponents of the Haitian President, Jovenel Moise, contended that the economic state of emergency was a ruse to quell the persistent civil unrest that had been building over several months. Widespread, violent, and unpredictable demonstrations throughout Haiti eventually led to the Department of State to advise U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Haiti and, if already there, to leave when they had the opportunity.
WorldAware had multiple clients with operations or personnel in Haiti and proactively alerted them to the ongoing situation, provided advice, and offered assistance. In consultation with WorldAware, several of WorldAware’s insurance partners agreed that the situation was unstable and confirmed policy coverage for all evacuations. WorldAware began working on behalf of their insurance partners to lead 11 missions; resulting in the evacuation of 74 people, primarily university students, and non-government organization aid workers.
A Challenging Environment
Westerners who wanted to leave Haiti quickly found that self-evacuation was not an option, particularly for those who worked outside Port-au-Prince. Violent protests throughout the country and increasing hostility towards Westerners made it dangerous to travel to the airport in Port-au-Prince without security assistance. The remote areas of Haiti where they were working made transportation options limited.
In challenging security environments, sheltering in place is sometimes the best course of action. However, as the situation progressed, sheltering in place was not an option. Due to the increasingly violent situation, the normal deliveries of food and water were severely compromised in remote areas of the island nation. As a result, the evacuees’ food and water were quickly running out with no way to resupply.
WorldAware in Action
WorldAware was monitoring the situation in Haiti through its 24/7 Global Intelligence team, so when civil unrest escalated, and evacuation requests were triggered, the Global Assistance and Response team was well informed. Using with the latest intelligence, they swiftly mobilized to contact clients with known people and facilities in Haiti and coordinate with their insurance partners to approve evacuation coverage for individuals who needed to leave.
Evacuations began on February 13, 2019, and continued until February 20, 2019. WorldAware contacted the evacuees and established communication and safety check-in protocols. The protocols used a combination of Whatsapp, email, and SMS text depending on the conditions. Next, a dedicated Incident Manager evaluated each security environment and determined the appropriate plan of action. In some circumstances, WorldAware was able to move individuals via secure ground transportation to Port-au-Prince; while more remote locations required airlifts to the capital. During one of the operations, locals rushed towards the helicopter that was sent to retrieve the evacuees. Through successful planning, WorldAware’s on-the-ground teams maintained a flexible approach and completed the rescue without compromising the safety of individuals in their care.
"Due to the recent rioting and looting that was occurring in Haiti, several Chubb insureds in Haiti requested security assistance in leaving the country. Chubb activated WorldAware on a Thursday evening to provide security extraction. Within 72 hours, WorldAware had moved all of the Chubb insureds back to the US quickly and safely. Moving over 40 insureds out of harm’s way and back home as quickly and efficiently as WorldAware did is a key reason Chubb A&H works with them. They treat our clients like their own."
- Dave McCreary, Vice President, Chubb North America
WorldAware’s Global Intelligence team issued 57 unique alerts and updates covering the events in Haiti, resulting in 8,053 total alert emails sent to 1,247 impacted individuals. With the information collected by WorldAware's Global Assistance and Response team's contacts on the ground, WorldAware was able to augment its intelligence operations with near real-time updates. The coordinated efforts allowed WorldAware to provide the most accurate, most up-to-date advice and assistance to many other clients who were either working in the country or questioning whether they should travel.
WorldAware’s Global Assistance and Response team evacuated 74 individuals through 11 separate missions conducted over seven days. Because these missions occurred in remote areas of the country, they required multiple methods for transportation. WorldAware worked with its security partners to move people via secure ground transportation, helicopter, and airplane to the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince. WorldAware arranged commercial flight arrangements for the evacuees to fly home. All commercial flights were tracked to ensure they reached their final destinations in the United States and confirmation of safe arrival communicated to clients and partners.
Close coordination and collaboration between Global Intelligence and Global Assistance and Response teams in both Annapolis, MD and Cape Town enabled WorldAware to deliver 24/7 support to impacted clients and partners, resulting in a positive outcome for all evacuees. The collaboration and communication between internal teams also allowed WorldAware to combine multiple operations when possible; resulting in improved efficiency, shorter evacuation times, and reduced costs for WorldAware’s partners and clients. Communication with clients and partners was managed through a single WorldAware point of contact, helping expectations to be better set and regular operational updates to be disseminated quickly, including confirmation of the safe return of people from Haiti.
WorldAware, Inc. provides intelligence-driven, integrated risk management solutions that enable multinational organizations to operate globally with confidence. WorldAware’s end-to-end, tailored solutions integrate world-class threat intelligence, innovative technology, and response services to help organizations avoid threats, mitigate risk and protect their people, assets, and reputation.