Governments and private companies around the world scrambled Thursday to evacuate citizens and workers from violence-hit Libya, as Italy braced for a “biblical” exodus of up to 300,000 migrants.

     Fears of a full-scale civil war in the North African country prompted countries from Canada to China to scramble to charter ferries and planes to secure their citizens’ safety despite poor communication links and growing violence.

     Thousands of foreigners packed Tripoli’s airport hoping to leave the widening chaos behind.

     I am only scratching the surface here on what private security companies are actually doing in Libya. But to say the least, what they are doing is incredible and life saving.  There are thousands of citizens and clients trapped in Libya, and it is a massive evacuation effort to get them all out. From the oil workers and engineers, to the diplomats and businessmen from all over the world–there is a massive exodus going on in Libya and private security companies are a crucial part of this evacuation.

    One of the pieces of news that jumped out at me was the mention of the British SAS working with PSC’s to rescue British citizens.  There are many of that country’s expats working in Libya, and they are scrambling forces to get in there and rescue folks.  The PSC’s are on the ground already and many are prior service folks with connections to special forces units from all over. It makes perfect sense that they would coordinate with groups like the SAS.  The point I wanted to emphasize here is that it isn’t just private industry or government doing this alone. This is an ‘all hands on deck’ moment, and it takes private industry and government working together to accomplish the task.

     It is also important to note that we are hearing the same kinds of pleas coming from the folks trapped in Libya, that we heard in places like New Orleans during the Hurricane Katrina disaster.  That too was a massive evacuation effort that dwarfed the capabilities of the government and what was available to deploy right then and there. During that disaster, PSC’s were called upon to participate in a massive evacuation effort as well, and their use was driven by the concept of ‘do whatever it takes’ to save people.  That included using private security along with the thousands of fire/police/military units from across the US. Plus, PSC’s can deploy extremely fast and can scale up or down pretty fast to meet the needs on the ground.

     Now on to the future of PSC’s in Libya.  After everyone is evacuated, the next step will be either extracting equipment or protecting it in place.   There are millions, if not billions of dollars worth of equipment in the oil fields of Libya and I just can’t see the companies that either own or leased that equipment willing to just throw it away or leave it to be pillaged and neglected. Not to mention the money lost in oil revenues.  So will we see future contracts like when EO was contracted back in the early nineties to rescue equipment for Ranger Oil in Angola?  Who knows, but I do know that these oil company assets are definitely exposed and extremely vulnerable right now.

     Finally, bravo to SOS International, Control Risks, Blue Mountain Group and all of the other PSC’s for all the work they are doing out there. These guys are saving lives in an an extremely dangerous and chaotic environment and they are the unsung heroes of this historic uprising spreading like fire across the Middle East and Africa. –Matt

BREAKING NEWS… Successful Libyan Evacuation

Control Risks supports clients in wake of Egypt protests

International SOS responds to unrest in Libya

SAS ready to rescue desert Britons

Countries rush to evacuate citizens from Libya

BREAKING NEWS… Successful Libyan Evacuation

Blue Mountain Group News

February, 2011

BLUE MOUNTAIN TEAM HAVE SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED A SAFE EVACUATION OF CLIENT PERSONNEL FROM LIBYA.

*****

Success has its own rewards, growth is one of them, welcome to the new Blue Mountain Group website.

The Blue Mountain Group is a Special Forces based company that has evolved into four distinct operational divisions (click on the links to the left) specialising in Security, Maritime Security, Driver Training and Adventure.

Each division is specialised and focused on delivering unique quantifiable services which are customer driven and client  focused (please review our news column below and on each of the four main home pages where some of our recent activity can be seen).

In a market saturated with companies offering the ‘best available’ we stand or fall on our reputation.

Please review the services that you are interested in and then allow us to validate these services through demonstration of capability and through our historic client recognition.

The Blue Mountain Group committed to achieving more tomorrow than we did today, it is who we are, it is where we come from and it is what we do. Blue Mountain, stretching the boundaries of expectations

Link to press release here.

—————————————————————-

Control Risks supports clients in wake of Egypt protests

February 2011

The protests against the political administration in Egypt have gained considerable momentum in recent days. Violent demonstrations accompanied by widespread looting, vandalism and arson have taken place across the country with at least 130 people killed and thousands of others injured.

The situation in Egypt has significant ramifications for businesses with operations or business travellers in the country, and Control Risks and our Joint Venture partner International SOS have deployed additional consultants and resources to the region to support clients.

We continue to observe the state of affairs and through our global contact centres are updating clients with regular travel security advice to assist them with preparing and responding to the situation. Clients subscribing to our Country Risk Forecast or PRIME political and security risk advisory services have been kept informed throughout on any developments which might have implications for their business operations or employees. Additionally, clients of the joint companies’ TravelTracker system have been able to identify and locate employees in the affected areas.

On the ground, Control Risks’ security specialists are working from locations in Cairo, Alexandria, Asyut and Suez to provide real-time information to clients seeking guidance regarding the current situation. This includes executive protection and ground movement services and in conjunction with International SOS, organising charter aircrafts to evacuate clients out of Egypt.

As well as offering personnel support, our security consultants and coordinators and incident management specialists have been working with clients to activate their business continuity and crisis management plans and procedures to protect their assets and business operations.

For further information on our capabilities or for immediate support requirements, please contact enquiries @ control-risks.com

Link to press release here.

—————————————————————–

International SOS responds to unrest in Libya

21 February 2011

International SOS, the world’s leading international healthcare, medical and security assistance, and concierge services company, has activated local security, medical and logistics resources in Libya. At this time the security situation in Libya is volatile, access to Libyan airspace is restricted, and communications infrastructure such as telephone and internet networks has been disrupted.

International SOS is working with its clients with personnel in the country to arrange evacuation by commercial and charter flight. In support of the operation in Libya, International SOS has activated a crisis management team in London supported by its alarm centers in Philadelphia, Paris, and Dubai.

International SOS encourages its clients to call one of its 28 alarm centers for help if evacuating travelers and expatriates from Libya. Additional information is available via the International SOS membership website within the Travel Security Online section.

Travel AdviceInternational SOS and Control Risks are closely monitoring the developing situation in Libya.  Our current advice includes:

•We advise against all travel to Libya until the situation has stabilized.

•Avoid all but essential movement in Libya; remain in a secure accommodation. Where movement is necessary for evacuation purposes or to relocate to secure accommodation, travel in daylight hours only, using stringent journey planning and management procedures. Confirm all routes are clear prior to departure.

•For in-country personnel, we are recommending that all but a skeleton group of stay-behind staff are withdrawn given the potential for a further deterioration in the security environment which may render an orderly evacuation difficult or impossible.

•Stay-behind personnel should be confident in their evacuation and contingency planning, and should ensure that plans are ready to implement at short-notice. Personnel currently in-country and concerned about their contingency planning or security support should contact their corporate security or HR function for up-to-date information and advice.

Note: Our full travel security advice is updated as the situation evolves. Kindly check the Travel Security Online website to ensure you have the latest information.

Link to press release here.

——————————————————————

SAS ready to rescue desert Britons

25th February 2011

…..THE SAS was poised last night to rescue stranded British oil workers surrounded by armed militiamen in the Libyan desert.

Emergency plans have been drawn up for troops to ‘help extract’ dozens of Britons from remote bases in the heart of the country within the next 48 hours.

Up to 170 Britons – scattered among four or five locations across the country – are stuck in the desert facing the threat of a brutal backlash from pro-Gaddafi factions.

Their food and water running low, many have complained that they have been forgotten about by the British Government. Members of the Special Forces (SF) are already in Libya and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed yesterday that the SAS is ready to strike if the situation deteriorates.

He told London radio station LBC: ‘The most significant news is the SAS troops that are now ready to spring into action.

Conflict rumbles on: Residents and former soldiers of Muammar Gaddafi celebrate inside a military compound in Benghazi

‘They are obviously thinking very, very carefully about these 170 trapped oil workers and the issue now is how do we deal with people outside Tripoli rather than inside Tripoli.’

Mr Hunt made clear that preparations had been under way for days.

‘Things like having SAS troops on stand-by aren’t things that happen at the drop of the hat and these things have obviously been planned for days, if not weeks,’ he said.

John Smith, 59, a drilling supervisor from Derby, who was working in the desert, described the horrendous conditions.

When looters carrying Kalashnikovs came to the camp, which is a nine-hour drive from Tripoli, the foreigners concealed themselves. His wife Carol said: ‘John and the other Westerners hid. But the looters kept asking where the foreigners were.

‘Then they set fire to the cabins where they all normally sleep. My husband’s a tough guy but I can tell he’s been scared. The airport was horrendous. He said there were so many people trying to get in, the authorities were hitting people with sticks to keep them back.’

Mr Smith is one of the lucky ones now safely back in Britain.

Bloody battle: At Al Abrak Airport in Eastern Libya the remains of a battle are scattered in the terminal and around the tarmac

Richard Bowley, 41, a business development manager for engineering firm AMEC, said he was stuck outside Tripoli airport with no food or water for 12 hours, waiting to get on a flight.

Wife Claire, who was waiting for him at Gatwick, said the last few days had been ‘diabolical’, especially as the couple have a three-month-old baby, Ava. Mrs Bowley said: ‘Richard’s fed up, cheesed off, furious the British Government didn’t get their act together earlier.

‘We were supposed to join Richard in March. Thank God we hadn’t gone earlier – the thought of being in that situation with a young baby is just horrendous.’ Mr Hunt’s extraordinary statement left the Government open to the charge that they were exploiting the glamour of the special forces to put a gloss on the chaotic rescue mission.

The Tories had criticised former prime minister Gordon Brown when he revealed that 200 members of the SAS and the Special Boat Service were deployed in Afghanistan.

Last night, a major rescue operation – led by private security companies attached to oil giants – was under way.

A convoy of Land Rovers began extracting some 90 oil workers yesterday afternoon, heading for the coast near Benghazi – but 80 were still left behind.

Rescue options included SF members escorting convoys of vehicles to the coast or to a desert airstrip where they could be airlifted out. A Foreign Office source said: ‘They have had an SAS unit positioned very close to the action for some time.’ Another said: ‘There are people on the ground in Tripoli. They have been defending the embassy and gathering intelligence. Clearly if we need to move into the desert, they will do so.’

The SF teams arrived in twos and threes on civilian flights via countries such as Germany and then linked up with the British embassy in Tripoli.

There they would have had access to the ‘red box’, a permanent source of kit and weapons held at every British embassy around the world.

The SF option in Libya is described as one of ‘last resort’, but at least two airfields have been identified and plans drawn up for the oil workers to gather at them.

Story here.

——————————————————————

Countries rush to evacuate citizens from Libya

February 23, 2011

ISTANBUL — Governments and private companies around the world scrambled Thursday to evacuate citizens and workers from violence-hit Libya, as Italy braced for a “biblical” exodus of up to 300,000 migrants.

Fears of a full-scale civil war in the North African country prompted countries from Canada to China to scramble to charter ferries and planes to secure their citizens’ safety despite poor communication links and growing violence.

Thousands of foreigners packed Tripoli’s airport hoping to leave the widening chaos behind.

As the increasingly isolated Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi clung to power, Turkey evacuated upwards of 6,000 of its nationals in three days by air, sea and land in what amounted to its biggest evacuation effort ever by some accounts.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday that 21 unspecified countries had asked Turkey to allow the repatriation of their nationals through Turkey.

Around 25,000 Turks are based in Libya, which was part of the Ottoman Empire until 1912, when Italy conquered the North African country.

The logistical challenges were especially acute for Asian countries with over 150,000 low-paid workers trapped in Libya.

Some 60,000 Bangladeshis, 30,000 Filipinos, 23,000 Thais and 18,000 Indians are among those living under Kadhafi’s tottering regime.

China arranged to evacuate half of its 30,000 citizens on four ferries chartered from Greece, while the first of several 250-seat chartered planes sent by the Chinese government landed in Tripoli.

China’s State Council also decided to deploy nearby cargo ships and even Chinese fishing vessels “carrying needed living and medical supplies.”

In Seoul, a foreign ministry spokesman said Seoul has chartered an Egyptian Air Airbus A330 to fly some of the estimated 1,400 South Koreans still in Libya to Cairo.

Hanoi said it was monitoring conditions for 10,000 Vietnamese, while Nepalese officials were looking at overland routes to Egypt for about 3,000 citizens.

Migrante International, a support group for overseas Filipino workers, said Filipinos had been abandoned in workers’ camps in Libya to fend for themselves, as Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay planned to fly to the Middle East Friday to review emergency plans for Filipinos in the region.

Hundreds of American nationals and other foreigners have boarded a US-chartered ferry in Tripoli but high seas delayed their departure for Malta.

Some 200 US nationals contacted the embassy seeking evacuation, the State Department spokesman said, adding that Libyan authorities had been “cooperative” during embarkation at As-Shahab port in central Tripoli.

Britain, meanwhile, defended its mission to rescue nationals stranded in Libya after the first of two planes chartered to pick up passengers from Tripoli eventually left London over nine hours late, while other nations successfully sent military planes to bring back their nationals.

London vowed to send as many evacuation flights as necessary, possibly including military planes, to get its citizens out.

Oil worker James Coyle told BBC radio he was one of 90 Britons trapped in a desert camp among 300 people, including Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Germans, Austrians and Romanians.

“We are living a nightmare and we have asked the British government and they have just totally ignored us,” he said, noting the group only had enough food and water for a day.

Latin American giant Brazil, which counts some 500 to 600 citizens in Libya, has sent a large ship and obtained permission for five planes to evacuate its citizens after initially struggling to obtaining overflight and landing permissions.

A number of Brazilian firms also employ thousands of workers in the restive country, though only a fraction of them are Brazilians.

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon planned to travel to Rome on Thursday to meet with some 200 Canadian evacuees due to fly in via charter plane.

The EU’s executive arm said it would provide “extra evacuation capacity,” including by sea to help bring out an estimated 10,000 stranded Europeans.

Two planes carrying around 500 French nationals arrived in Paris early Wednesday.

Some 339 Russian railroad and oil workers and their families returned to Moscow aboard three planes.

“They burned down a police station next to our house. There is a lot of gunfire at night — rounds of machine gun fire. We spent sleepless nights,” one woman told Russian state television on arrival.

Russia’s emergency ministry said it planned to evacuate a total of 1,263 people from Libya — 563 Russians and 700 Turkish and Serbian citizens working under contract with the Russian Railways company — via a total of four planes and a rescue raft.

Already grappling with a mass influx of immigrants from Tunisia since the fall of its veteran ruler, Italy warned that would be nothing compared to the number of immigrants that could flee neighbouring Libya.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini predicted a wave of refugees 10 times greater than the number of Albanians who fled to Italy during the Kosovo War in the 1990s.

Several thousand foreign migrants have crossed the Tunisian border from Libya in the first such major exodus since the Libyan turmoil began on February 15, the International Organisation for Migration said. Most were Tunisians, but there were also Turks, Lebanese, west Africans, Syrians and Germans.

Story here.