Government of Canada

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

Technical Assistance Handbook—Chapter 11— Non Medical Emergency Evacuation

Emergency Evacuation Plan

Local emergency situations resulting from civil strife or natural disaster require special attention to personal safety, and possibly, as a last resort, emergency evacuation. The information in this chapter is based on CIDA's Emergency Evacuation Guidelines which can be obtained from CIDA's Technical Assistance Unit.

11.1 Role of the Embassy/High Commission

All Canadian Diplomatic Missions (Embassies or High Commissions) have contingency plans for dealing with such situations, and are responsible for coordinating the Canadian response to any local crisis situation abroad. They will advise the Canadian community of precautions, and, where necessary, on how to implement their emergency plan.

The cooperant/advisor/executing agencies must co-operate with the Canadian Diplomatic Mission in the planning and operation of emergency measures.
  1. Warden system

    In emergency situations, the Canadian Diplomatic Mission will do everything possible to contact Canadians in the field, either directly or through a voluntary warden system. This system designates persons located throughout a region or the country as responsible for contacting a specific group of Canadians. This system allows the Canadian Diplomatic Mission personnel to provide information and advice concerning safety precautions, and, as a last resort, evacuation measures.

    The warden system works best as a two-way channel of communication. The cooperant/advisor may be asked to participate in the system, and the Canadian Diplomatic Mission will rely heavily on information about local situations relayed to it by Canadians in various regions of the country. In the event of an evacuation, the project may have resources, such as vehicles, supplies of gasoline, food, or radios which could be invaluable.

    On arrival in the city of assignment, the cooperant/advisor must contact the Canadian Diplomatic Mission, in person if possible, but at least by telephone, to obtain the name and location of their warden.

  2. Information for the Canadian Diplomatic Mission

    CIDA or the executing agency will provide the Canadian Diplomatic Mission with information about their cooperants/advisors and dependants before they leave Canada. This should include the location of the assignment, dates of travel, and routing and where it is known, information about accommodation and their CIDA project contacts.

    If unknown in advance of travel, the cooperant/advisor will complete it on arrival in the field, and provide it to the Canadian Diplomatic Mission.

  3. Registration card

    Once overseas, the cooperant/advisor must complete a Registration Card for Canadians Residing Abroad and send it to the Canadian Diplomatic Mission in the city of assignment. If Canada does not have a Diplomatic Mission in that country, the Canadian Diplomatic Mission responsible may be in an adjacent country. Otherwise, the cooperant/advisor will register with an Honorary Canadian Consul, or with the missions of Australia, the U.S.A., Britain or France.

    Information on the registration card is protected.

11.2 Being Prepared for an Emergency Situation

  1. Information

    The cooperant/advisor must be well-briefed about the organization of their project. They should be sure to have the following minimal information:

    • basic information on the means of communication available (telephone, Internet, fax, radio), and the contact numbers of people and organizations involved with the project, including the warden in case of emergency
    • names and contact numbers of the Project Manager or his representative and of the CIDA Field Representative;
    • information on methods of transportation available to leave the region or the country and different possible itineraries, including:

      • a list of the nearest cities from which international flights originate;
      • information about transportation (trains, buses, flights) to those cities and several itineraries;
      • maps;
      • suggested alternate means of communication (e.g. radio contact) as decided locally; and
      • steps to follow in the event of civil disturbance.
    Note: In a crisis situation, this information will be supplemented by the Canadian Diplomatic Mission.

  2. Identification:

    The cooperant/advisor and family members must ensure that their passports and visas are valid. It is also advisable to keep photocopies of passports and visas.

    Particularly where there are language barriers, the cooperant/advisor should request from his local host group a letter, written in the local language, which identifies him and confirms his presence as a cooperant or an advisor on a CIDA project.

  3. Emergency preparedness

    There are several things the cooperant/advisor and their families can do in advance to prepare themselves either to last out a short-term emergency, or to be ready to move if necessary.

    Short-wave radio: Each family must have a short-wave radio to be able to monitor Radio-Canada, the BBC and the Voice of America. When conditions are severe enough that Canadians should consider leaving the country, warning broadcasts through these networks will be arranged by Foreign Affairs Canada.

    Security precautions: Housing must be secure (use locks, security lights, etc.); check fire extinguishers; if there is no anti-Canadian sentiment, put Canadian flags or stickers on your house and car; carry identity papers (passport, visas) with you, but not in bags or briefcases from which you could easily become separated. Do the same with money and air or train tickets.

    Communications: Stay in touch with your warden, or your Project Team Leader if there is no warden. Let them know where you are. If possible, arrange two-way radio contact with the Canadian Diplomatic Mission, which will be monitoring the situation and organizing a possible evacuation. As much as possible, maintain contact with other Canadians in the area; you may be able to help them, and they may be able to help you.

    Supplies: Keep reserves of cash (not large amounts), food, large portable water containers, first aid kit, candles, matches, flashlights, batteries and a good short-wave radio. Fill bathtubs and portable containers with water. Keep the car in a safe location and secure it. Keep the gas tank filled, never less than half full. In an accident a full tank of gas is likely only to burn whereas a partially empty tank may explode. Maintain a portable stove and keep a supply of fuel. Assemble a mini "pack-up kit" of clothing, bedding, dishes, utensils, and toys or other comfort items for children.

    Documentation: Keep travel documents (passports and visas) up-to-date and at hand. Make sure you are registered with the Canadian Diplomatic Mission as described above. Keep good road maps of the city and country on hand at all times. Make sure you have an inventory of your personal and household effects (i.e. proof of ownership, insurance policies).

  4. Stages of a crisis

    Most crises develop over a period of time, and the cooperant/advisor should be prepared for various stages of response. Not all crises will reach the final stage, or even go beyond the first one. Letters from the Canadian Diplomatic Mission, or information received through the warden, will inform Canadians of what stage has been reached. These are:

    • a period when the cooperant/advisor and families should stay at home and under cover;
    • a period at which, unless one is designated "essential personnel", one should leave while there is still commercial transportation operating. At this point it is the responsibility of the cooperant/advisor to leave; at a later stage, the Canadian Diplomatic Mission may be unable to arrange transport.
    • in the final stage, emergency evacuation, the cooperant/advisor and the entire family will be evacuated, regardless of nationality. Please note, however, that a person carrying the nationality of the country of assignment will be subject to local laws, which may preclude evacuation.

    In the event of hostilities
    Stay away from crowds during any hostilities, move around as little as possible, particularly after dark, and stay away from unfamiliar places.

11.3 Decision to Evacuate the City of Assignment

  1. Authority

    The actual decisions to evacuate the city of assignment will be made by Foreign Affairs Canada in Ottawa on advice of the Head of the Diplomatic Mission.

    In cases where Foreign Affairs Canada considers it necessary to repatriate Government of Canada "non-essential" Embassy or High Commission personnel, CIDA will also repatriate project personnel and their families working on development projects.

    While CIDA obviously wishes to provide all possible assistance in legitimate cases, unnecessary evacuations must be avoided. The final decision, nevertheless, is up to each individual, but reimbursement of evacuation costs will only be paid if Foreign Affairs Canada announces a decision to evacuate.

  2. Approved evacuation destination

    In an evacuation, the Canadian Diplomatic Mission will advise project personnel on the most appropriate destination. Individuals working in remote areas of certain countries may only need to move to the capital city. Evacuations may also be made to transit points in places such as Europe, pending decisions on project continuation. Other personnel may wish to return to Canada.

    Please note that an evacuation may be to a neighbouring country where problems do not exist; evacuation is not necessarily to Canada.

    The choice is ultimately up to each individual, but evacuation costs will only be paid up to the approved evacuation destination. Specific financial arrangements covering these options must be discussed with the Administrative Officer.

11.4 Emergency Evacuation Expenses

  1. General conditions

    Where an emergency evacuation is officially sanctioned by the Canadian Diplomatic Mission, those evacuated will normally pay their own expenses and later claim reimbursement. However, persons for whom such expenses present major problems may seek assistance from the Administrative Officer. No person will be denied evacuation due to lack of funds.

    If, following a decision by Foreign Affairs Canada, the cooperant, advisor or accompanying dependant must be evacuated, evacuation costs will be paid as outlined below. For shorter term personnel, CIDA's or the executing agency's financial liability will be limited to reasonable evacuation costs.

    In exceptional cases, those individuals who decide to evacuate and cover their own costs, reasonable evacuation costs will be reimbursed if the CIDA Branch responsible for the project subsequently decides, on the advice of the Head of Mission, that the individual circumstances facing the CIDA personnel required evacuation.

    CIDA or the executing agency will reimburse reasonable evacuation costs upon submission and approval of invoices. The following information should also be provided: the name, function, and number of dependants of the evacuated cooperant/advisor, with details of the evacuation such as point of departure, route, final destination, costs incurred. Receipts for accommodation and travel must be provided.

    While on emergency evacuation status, Vacation Travel Assistance (VTA) cannot be authorized or utilized, as VTA must commence from the city of assignment. Any planned VTA booked but not utilized during the evacuation period must be cancelled. Cancellation fees are reimbursable. If there is a cost to change the return to the city of assignment portion of the VTA airline ticket, fees associated with the change are reimbursable. If the cooperant/advisor and/or their accompanying dependants are temporarily away from the city of assignment when the evacuation is ordered, the provisions of this chapter will not apply until the scheduled end date of the temporary absence from the city of assignment. Expenses incurred during the scheduled temporary absence remain the cooperant's/advisor's responsibility.

  2. Continuation of fees and benefits during project suspensions

    In cases where project operations are suspended, the cooperant's/advisor's fee will continue to be paid for up to thirty (30) days, during which time CIDA and the Canadian Diplomatic Mission will keep project conditions under continuous review. The final day to include in the overseas allowance calculation is the 25th working day after departure from the city of assignment (see Overseas Allowances - Periods of Application 9.5).

    At the end of the thirty (30) day period, a decision will be made by CIDA whether to reinstate, continue the temporary suspension or terminate project activities. Whatever the option chosen, decisions on expenses will be made according to the provisions of the contract and operational requirements.

  3. Lost or damaged household effects during emergency evacuation

    For the assignment overseas, the cooperant/advisor must avoid bringing valuable objects and it is strongly recommended that the cooperant/advisor insure household effects with full replacement value against loss or damage. CIDA will not reimburse the cost of this insurance. CIDA is not liable for the loss or damage to the cooperant's/advisor's household effects.

  4. Admissible costs

    For the cooperant, admissible costs may vary according to evacuation conditions and the Administrative Officer will provide the details. For emergency financing, the cooperant shall contact Technical Assistance Unit and the advisor will contact the executing agency.

    The following are guidelines for admissible costs based on past evacuations and apply equally to cooperants and advisors. The costs outlined below apply to costs incurred at the approved evacuation destination. If the cooperant/advisor/accompanying dependant chooses an evacuation destination other than the approved evacuation destination, evacuation costs will be limited to costs listed below at either: the evacuation destination, the approved evacuation destination OR in Canada, whichever costs are less.

    1. Transportation expenses (see definition)

      Transportation expenses for the cooperant/advisor and accompanying dependants including a kilometre rate according to the Treasury Board Travel Directive, if travel by personal motor vehicle is recommended for evacuation and the cooperant/advisor drives to a location within 500 kilometres of the city of assignment. The airfare entitlement is up to full fare economy from the city of assignment to the approved evacuation destination and return to the city of assignment by the most direct routing. Return fares must be booked with the return portion as "open ticket".

      Days in transit to the approved evacuation destination are not included in the days noted below in Sections ii), iii) and iv). Meals, incidental allowance and accommodation expenses while in transit may be claimed based on the authorized stopover location rates (see Chapter 4.2.2.b iv.).

    2. Accommodation

      Commercial self-contained accommodation with kitchen facilities is authorized based on a monthly rate.

      Private accommodation is authorized and the cooperant/advisor can claim four hundred and twenty Canadian dollars (C$420) for each month. For periods of less than one full calendar month, the amount will be prorated using the following formula: 420 x 12/ 365 x number of days in the month.

      Commercial hotel with no kitchen facilities will not be authorized unless there is no commercial self-contained units available within a reasonable distance from the approved evacuation destination.

    3. Meal allowance

      Meal allowance refers to the rate published as part of the Treasury Board Travel Directive (see Chapter 1.10 for the Internet address).

      If the approved evacuation destination is in Canada or the United States: the meal allowance for children up to 12 years of age will be calculated at fifty percent (50%) of the daily amount for Canada and the United States; the meal allowance for children 12 years of age and over will be calculated at one hundred percent (100%) of the daily amount for Canada and the United States.

      If the approved evacuation destination is outside Canada and the United States: the meal allowance for children up to 4 years of age will be calculated at fifty percent (50%) of the daily amount for approved evacuation destination; the meal allowance for children 4 years of age and over will be calculated at one hundred percent (100%) of the daily amount for the approved evacuation destination.

      In a commercial self-contained unit or in private accommodation:

      Days 1 -2: one hundred percent (100%) of the approved evacuation destination daily meal allowance.

      Days 3 - 21: eighty percent (80%) of the approved evacuation destination daily meal allowance.

      Days 22 - 60: sixty-five percent (65%) of the approved evacuation destination dinner allowance.

      and where authorized:

      In a commercial hotel with no kitchen facility:

      Days 1 -2: one hundred percent (100%) of the approved evacuation destination daily meal allowance.

      Days 3 - 21: one hundred percent (100%) of the approved evacuation destination daily meal allowance.

      Days 22 - 60: sixty-five percent (65%) of the approved evacuation destination dinner allowance.

    4. Incidental allowance:

      The incidental allowance refers to the rates published in the Treasury Board Travel Directive (see Chapter 1.10 for the Internet address). Only one incidental allowance can be claimed for the whole family unit and NOT an incidental allowance for each person travelling.

      In commercial self-contained accommodation or commercial hotel:

      Days 1 -21: Incidental allowance for the approved evacuation destination.

      Days 22 - 60: None

      In private accommodation:


  5. Extended absence from the project

    There may be situations where the project is not cancelled, but the cooperant/advisor and his family are not authorized to return to the city of assignment for some time.

    Normally in such situations, while temporary accommodation costs are being paid, the cooperant/advisor receives full fee, but the overseas allowance is suspended after the twenty-fifth (25th) working day. If CIDA requires the cooperant/advisor to return to the project in advance of their family, temporary living costs for the family, as well as appropriate education costs, will be covered until the family is reunited in the city of assignment or until the family relocates to Canada.