May 29, 2018

Expatriate safety: new challenges

International Mobility

Any expatriate employee or employee on a business trip is exposed to security risks, more or less significant depending on the countries concerned.

Expatriate safety: new challenges

The security risks of expatriates

Any expatriate employee or employee on a business trip is exposed to security risks, more or less significant depending on the countries concerned.

Firstly because it is far from its bases, therefore from its cultural and usual benchmarks.

Then, because he becomes a target. If we take the example of a French collaborator, we will note that like any Westerner, he represents, in himself, on his national territory but even more when crossing his borders, a market value. This finds its best translation in the commercial act of which it is an actor, but also an issue (tourism is based on this principle); at the other end of the commercial chain, its value can also be expressed in terrorist acts (kidnapping for ransom or blackmail, assassination to obtain a political result); he is also there in the terms of this exchange, not only a passive actor but above all a stake and even more a victim.

Between these two extremes of the palette of exchange, its commercial value varies according to the numerous forms of delinquency and banditry (theft, extortion, aggression, cybercrime, etc.). The security of expatriates has therefore become a priority for the company.

Identified target or opportunity?

Thus the security risks to which a French person is exposed internationally make him an identified target or a target of opportunity.

The tourist, because he only stays a short time in one place, remains a target of opportunity.

The business traveler and the expatriate are identified targets, because they are established in the local landscape: the regularity of their travel, the location of their work or living areas, their family environment (spouses, children) are observed and known.

Often because they represent France in a very emblematic way; It cannot be ruled out that the Radisson hotel in Bamako, Mali, was targeted by Al Mourabitoune terrorists because they knew they could find the crew of a major French airline there. In this specific case, the intention is above all political.

Conversely, in 2015, a French company (less emblematic) based in Mexico saw two of its executives victims of kidnapping; the content of the deal lay in the payment of a ransom paid in dental prostheses, the company's sector of activity. No one in France would have imagined such an exchange: two men for implants... But even more, the transaction having been carried out, in the days which followed, the employees of the company were all contacted and threatened with a view to ransom ; in fact, the cell phones confiscated from the two victims gave access to all local managers and employees. The company's French management has decided to put its subsidiary on hold.

Organization of employee safety

Change of cultural references

Before expatriation or a business trip, a large part of the immediate safety of each national relies on taking into account the notion of “ cultural expatriation”. It is about understanding that crossing borders can correspond to a change in environment, sometimes radical, at the end of which cultural, social, religious and customary references are no longer the same; Adapting to this new framework and adopting behavior in line with it is the primary guarantor of an immediate “ security bubble” around the expatriate and their family.

Protection of expatriates

If the tourist stay is the subject of more or less careful preparation under the traveler's own responsibility, the employer no longer ignores the safety of its employees and organizes it along several axes:

  • anticipation and preparation: this concerns the analysis of country risk, the corresponding awareness-raising (seminar intervention, induction by e-learning, delivery of "country mementos", etc.), pre-departure training (provided both to employees and to their family), the development of traveler tracking software, hotel referencing, etc. To cover all these aspects, companies can call on the support of security companies;
  • in the countries concerned, the use of these same security companies offers the client company the guarantee of taking into account the security of its nationals from their arrival in the country to their installation; the sectors covered, upon request, are those of coordinating the security of installations (homes, headquarters), families, activities, travel and assets.

Because the risk of expatriates is real and the need to travel is just as real, companies aware of the need to protect and support their employees abroad can now equip themselves with the means to carry out their activity under conditions that adequately guarantee their safety.

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