On 15th August, 2021 - Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul was captured by the Taliban after a major insurgent offensive that began in May 2021.
On August 16th, 2021 - all flights in and out of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul were cancelled. Civilian flights that were in their air, en-route to Kabul, were diverted away from the country.
The Kabul Airport Authority released a message, "Do not rush to the airport."
It was estimated that there were still up to 9,000 American citizens and 4,000 British citizens in Afghanistan.
For those who made it to the airport, they were being protected by US and British troops. For those who didn't make it to the airport, they were being advised by their Embassies to 'shelter in place' - in a country where insurgents were now actively searching for them!
Requests to Inherent Risks for emergency assistance and evacuation options were being received in droves from international NGOs, global media agencies and multinational corporations who were concerned for the welfare of their people.
"This was a mass-scale and life-threatening event unlike any I had ever witnessed. Staff and citizens from a multitude of industries and countries, all speaking different languages, and all with different guidance from their employers and embassies; which sometimes also conflicted with each other."
- Dan Kaine, Head of Crisis Advisory
Inherent Risks had received a total of 193 calls for assistance. Each individual case number was a human being, trapped in a location, fearing for their lives.
In response, the Inherent Risks team called upon their trusted local human intelligence and interpreter assets across Afghanistan to develop a network of safe houses.
"We developed a digital map of Afghanistan with each safe house plotted using a what 3 words address which we determined was the most accurate, and easy to communicate option. We then had the enormous task of coordinating reliable transportation for each individual without compromising their safety en-route."
After nine-days, we successfully established 67 safe houses and coordinated the transportation to each, with most housing a minimum of two people, and a maximum of four.
For each person, we documented their personal details, established proof of life and under duress questions and answers, and provided a code word to each so that they would know if a person arrived to provide assistance, they could trust them. We also provided each with a specific list of 'dos and don'ts' and a schedule to switch on their phones for a daily check-in.
There were some safe housed in locations where no phone signal was possible. For those people, we sent a 'runner' who was known in that region and who would not compromise the safe houses by being there.
In the time that these people were in hiding, the Taliban and Islamist Insurgents were actively looking for them.
For up to 97-days, we coordinated food and medication resupplies until each person was successfully rescued, and evacuated. In some cases, even after their ordeal several people had also made the decision to remain in the country.