Advice for members on deteriorating security in Iraq

17 June 2014 ,  —


International SOS and Control Risks are providing critical advice and services to clients with personnel in Iraq.

As the travel security environment in the Northern Provinces of Federal Iraq continues to deteriorate, experts are closely monitoring the situation on the ground and working proactively to track and support organisations with operations in the region. In recent days teams have provided real-time information to more than 10,000 travellers and expatriates in Iraq.

The International SOS and Control Risks alliance brings together the extensive global network and expertise of both companies. International SOS is the world’s leading medical and travel security risk services group. Control Risks is the world’s leading global risk consultancy firm.

On 10-12 June, the Sunni Muslim extremist organisation, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized control of large areas of Federal Iraq and stated an intention to advance on the capital Baghdad. Over recent days, the activity of ISIS and the mobilisation of Shia militias adds to the complexity of the security situation and to the risks faced by personnel based in Iraq.

Since the start of the unrest, International SOS and Control Risks have issued 15 real-time situation updates to clients and are working closely with them to cascade critical information and advice to personnel. An Incident Management Team is on the ground in Baghdad. This includes travel security, medical and security specialists from International SOS and Control Risks.

Grant Strudwick, Head of Security Assistance at International SOS and Control Risks, said:

“The situation in Iraq is developing rapidly and remains highly unpredictable. We expect that travel security will continue to deteriorate over the coming days.

We have a dedicated and extensive global network that is working around the clock to ensure we are getting real-time updates, assessments and advice to members who remain in the Kurdish region, Central and Southern Iraq. We urge clients to continue working closely with International SOS and Control Risks to support affected members.”

Members with concerns about developments in Iraq can contact one of the 27 International SOS assistance centres. Detailed and regularly updated travel security updates are available to members on the Travel Security Online website, but general guidance currently includes the following:

Northern, western EXTREME travel risk provinces: Nineveh, Salahaddin, Diyala, Anbar and Kirkuk

• Evacuate all staff

• Defer all travel to these regions


• Unless personnel have sufficiently robust plans in place to be able to remain where they are, they should relocate by air from the capital. Do not travel overland to leave Baghdad

• All but business-critical travel within Baghdad should be avoided, and all road travel from Baghdad to the south should be postponed until further notice

• Ensure access to backup communications, including satellite communications, given the potential for significant internet disruption

• Members should monitor local information sources closely and liaise with their local security provider regarding the feasibility of any necessary movement in the city, as well as current security provider capability and availability

• Travel risk managers should review contingency plans and ensure staff remaining in the country are there only for business-critical purposes

Southern provinces

• Travel to Southern Iraq should be for business-critical reasons only

• Organisations should heighten security measures for ongoing operations and confirm adequate communications systems are in place

• Travel risk managers should review contingency plans and ensure remaining in-country staff are there only for business-critical purposes

• Local managers should liaise with their security provider regarding the feasibility of any necessary movement, as well as current security provider capability and availability

Kurdish Region

• Travel to urban areas in the Kurdish Region, including the cities of Erbil and Suleiymaniyah and Dohuk, can continue

• Travel in rural areas of the Kurdish Region is possible with sensible security precautions, including good journey planning and management and the use of a trained driver

• Seek itinerary and profile-specific advice from your security provider prior to travel

• Pre-arranged meet-and-greet procedures are advised for travellers on arrival

• A secure escort may be necessary near the Kurdish Region's border areas with greater Iraq: seek professional security advice if intending to travel in these locations


Notes to Editors

About the International SOS Group of Companies

The International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives, protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help protect your people, your organisation's reputation, as well as support your compliance reporting needs. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity and sustainability.


Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group, headquartered in London & Singapore, is trusted by 12,000 organisations, including the majority of the Fortune 500, as well as mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions and NGOs. 12,000 multicultural medical, security and logistics experts stand with you to provide support & assistance from over 1,000 locations in 90 countries, 24/7, 365 days.   

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About Control Risks

Control Risks is a global risk consultancy specialising in political, security and integrity risk. The company enables its clients to understand and manage the risks of operating in complex or hostile environments. Through a unique combination of services, wide geographical reach and by adopting a close partnership approach with clients, Control Risks helps organisations effectively solve their problems and realise new opportunities across the world.