Social unrest, xenophobia among emerging security issues for corporate travellers: International SOS

Several security challenges for corporate travellers have emerged in the wake of Covid-19

Against a backdrop of an exponential rise of Covid-19-related security cases, International SOS has raised three emerging security challenges that organisations must be aware of as lockdowns are relaxed.

These come alongside underlying security issues that the pandemic has and will continue to exacerbate.

Several security challenges for corporate travellers have emerged in the wake of Covid-19

International SOS identified social unrest and petty crime as among the issues to watch, a result of severe worldwide economic downturn caused by large-scale and prolonged restrictions on mobility, disruption to production and supply chains, and closure of businesses.

Anti-government sentiment follows next, driven by perceived poor governmental responses to the pandemic as well as high unemployment levels, potentially prompting unrest or challenges to leadership, particularly in locations with polarised societies or those with major political oppositions.

The third security challenge is xenophobia. International SOS noted that an increase in nationalistic trends has been accompanied by a rise in xenophobia in some locations, targeted at those who are falsely seen as spreading the virus or having privileged access to medicine and food supplies.

James Bird, security director, intelligence and operations at International SOS, commented in a statement: “Up to 75 per cent of our security cases have been Covid-19-related in recent months, with total cases rising to double the amount we’d normally expect to see each month. Locations previously considered low-security risk are experiencing new emerging risks. Many countries will also find that the pandemic environment exacerbates underlying or pre-existing security concerns. These are notably associated with economic inequality and political polarisation, which will fuel second-order security consequences.

“It is clear that security teams will play a critical role when transitioning to a ‘new normal’ workplace, as lockdown measures in many nations start to be relaxed. Visibility of the new security status in the current environment will be vital for the return to safe and sustainable operations.“

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