SAFETY AND SECURITY

 

WHY SAFETY AND SECURITY ARE ONE of EUFASA’s CONCERNS

Family life in the diplomatic service often means living for years in a different environment than the home country and in places with a lower level of safety and security which have become a growing concern in the 21st century.

WHAT EUFASA HAS DONE ABOUT THIS CONCERN

EUFASA working groups generated two important reports:

  • “Families in Difficult Situations”. A study that was presented at the EUFASA Conference in Vienna 2006.
  • Another report about this concern was presented at the COPRO-COADM meeting in Brussels, December 2006.
  • Report “Children’s problems”, Conference Madrid 2007.

Difficult situations for families were analysed and the following proposals were brought to the attention of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFAs) in case of:

  • War, terrorism, a coup, or natural disaster.
    Evacuation.
    Paid accommodation in a neighbouring country or at home.
    Interim schooling for the children in the same system.
    Psychological help and/or treatment.
  • Extremely high criminality.
    Self-defence courses for spouses and children.
    Secure housing.
    Paid guards

BEST PRACTICE

As reported in the survey for Families in Difficult Situations, EUFASA Conference, Vienna 2006.

  • Preparation for spouses before going on postings:
    50% of MFAs arrange courses on security on postings abroad (Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the European Commission). The Netherlands arrange first aid courses.
  • Very high criminality:
    Most MFAs provide secure housing for the civil servant by paying for the installation of alarms and security systems in rented accommodations and by providing paid guards for houses of employees in case of very high criminality.
    Only three MFAs (Germany, Greece and United Kingdom) pay for self-defence courses for spouses.
  • War, terrorism, coup or natural disaster:
    Gas masks and iodine tablets are the most commonly provided items for family members; only Sweden provides a blood bank.
  • In cases of especially high pollution:
    55 % of MFAs (Austria, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, Belgium and the EU Commission) provide extra recreational (Rest and Recuperation) trips to another country or to the home country. Switzerland gives an extra holiday and a salary bonus.
  • Evacuations of the whole/some family members:
    80% of MFAs pay for temporary housing in a neighbouring country (Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Belgium and the EU Commission). Half of the respondents answered that the MFA pays for housing in the MFA Officer’s home country, and half answered that it does not.
  • Does the MFA pay for the interim schooling of the children in the same system?
    In most cases there is a time limit for paid interim schooling. In Germany, Greece, Poland and Sweden there is no limit. In Ireland it is decided on a case-by-case basis.
  • Loss of property through natural disaster, war, acts of terrorism, etc.
    An overwhelming majority of MFAs (80%) do not have an agreement with an insurance company or pay for the losses not usually covered by regular insurances. Only in Hungary and the UK do such arrangements exist.
  • General Accident Insurance for officers and their dependants while on postings abroad
    Best practice: Austria

RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE MFAs:

  1. Preparation or briefing of spouses on security matters before going on posting.
  2. Spouses and children should have adequate insurance cover for rehabilitation and consequences of accidents on postings. The special accident insurance that the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has negotiated with an insurance company could be a model for other MFAs.