Evacuation of an Aid Worker from Sudan amid violent unrest
Amid intense political unrest in Sudan, an employee of an NGO client needed our help. We worked quickly and expertly to navigate less than ideal conditions including suspended flights, limited communication abilities and rapidly devolving protests on the ground.
In December 2018, urban centres throughout Sudan began to experience violent unrest. Unfortunately, the military coup d’état was not enough to placate protestors, who maintained their sit-in outside the army headquarters in Khartoum; they were calling for the military to hand over power to a transitional civilian government. This unrest came to a head on 3rd June, when the military forcibly dispersed the sit-in, killing dozens and injuring hundreds in the process.
The Healix Global Security Operations Centre (GSOC) received a request from an NGO client to evacuate one of their last remaining expatriate employees from Khartoum on 6th June 2019. The situation had been closely monitored by our team; at that point, we had published over 70 alerts via the Healix Travel Oracle app and developed a number of reports and advisories since the unrest first began. Our team was able to make immediate contact with the employee who was inside the client’s offices with enough food, water and medical supplies to last seven days. Sudanese airspace remained open, but a number of airlines had suspended flights to Khartoum. The demand for any remaining flights was extremely high as multiple organisations, including the UN, had made the decision to evacuate. To complicate matters further, authorities had implemented a partial internet shutdown; this created an additional layer of difficulty around communications.
Healix made contact with accredited local ground assets in Sudan within an hour of receiving the client request. These assets were able to provide an ‘on-the-ground’ assessment and immediately began making plans for a ground move from the client’s office to Khartoum International Airport. Healix also dedicated one of our analysts to monitor the situation. The analyst’s focus was on the locations of ongoing unrest, security checkpoints, and any developments that might arise at the airport.
We quickly arranged visa requirements and secured a seat on the next available flight to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. In the early hours of 9th June, the ground team conducted reconnaissance of the route to the airport to ensure its viability. Once that was completed, we successfully transferred the employee. The ground team remained at the airport as the employee passed through customs and were then able to confirm wheels-up. The employee landed safely in Addis Ababa, where they were met by local colleagues.