International SOS sees demand increase for those returning to Ukraine

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The world’s largest consultancy handling medical, security, workforce and travel matters provides operational support for employers helping them deal with problems arising from situations affected by conflict.

Regional security director Sally Llewellyn said: “We can’t understate how immense the risks we’ve observed have been in Ukraine.

“We have a strong history of helping organisations in moments of crisis, and the conflict we’ve observed there is in some ways similar to previous incidents we’ve assisted with.”

The consultancy is continuing to help businesses with evacuations from the country and those bordering it, having carried out more than a hundred so far.

On-the-ground advice coupled with the latest information and risk analysis to ensure people can go about their everyday business are also being provided.

Understanding the risks present in each region of Ukraine such as missile strikes, unexploded devices, or direct military activity are crucial for companies whose focus is on keeping their people as safe as possible while the biggest challenge can be countering widespread misinformation.

“We work hard to provide the right intel for our clients,” adds Lewellyn.

“This has been particularly important for agricultural companies during the harvest season, for NGOs as they look to navigate often fragile humanitarian corridors and for media as they look to get close to the military action whilst staying safe.

“Now it is the case for professional services companies whose many Ukrainian employees now want to return home to visit loved ones.” 

At the start of the crisis in Ukraine many of International SOS’s clients were in areas such as technology, medical, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and telecoms. 

Now that has expanded to include those in the agricultural and charity sectors – groups, it says, that have an increasingly important role to play in the region, helping to alleviate the humanitarian crisis as well as a potential food one. 

Current risks, it advises, include the direct military conflict in the east and south-east of the country, as well as missile strikes which periodically impact Kyiv and western Ukraine. Additionally, the large amount of unexploded ordnance (mines and other explosives), is an issue that individuals need to be particularly conscious of. 

The consultancy is also supporting more professional services businesses by helping some of their remote staff, who are Ukrainian and who have been living elsewhere, return home to work remotely for a short amount of time.

Often, they are returning to Ukraine to visit friends and family who are still there or are taking goods home to loved ones.

One UK-based multinational financial services company International SOS has helped has enabled it to have an up-to-date assessment of the security and medical risks present for returning staff.

Along with advice such as appropriate transport and hotels, shelter in place guidance, a selection of appropriate medical facilities and evacuation procedures in case of an escalation have been provided.

“As the conflict enters more of a prolonged stage, it’s important to recognise that many risks are still present in the country,” warns Lewellyn.

“Missiles may still target factories, unexploded devices still remain undetected, and an escalation of the military conflict may still occur. This highlights that those organisations and businesses still need to operate and workers need to work. International SOS is doing its best to ensure this remains the case despite the deepening crisis in Ukraine.”

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