Expats flee Middle East chaos

Employers must be prepared for global disruptions
By Sarah Dobson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/28/2011

The crisis in Libya caught many unaware. Despite its location in the Middle East, under a totalitarian regime, the country had enjoyed years of relative stability. But with the recent uprisings spreading across the region, at least three Canadian companies — Suncor Energy, SNC-Lavalin and Pure Technologies — had to move quickly to evacuate employees.

“We wish to thank all of those who made this difficult journey for their courage and patience, and thanks also to their families, friends and colleagues for their support and understanding. We know how difficult this period was for you all, and are glad that everyone made it out in perfect safety, despite trying conditions,” said a release from SNC-Lavalin, which also thanked everyone who worked tirelessly to ensure the evacuation’s success.

While the situation in the Middle East surprised many, these kinds of disruptions can happen pretty quickly, said Stephen Cryne, president and CEO of the Canadian Employee Relocation Council, citing 9-11, the SARS pandemic and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.