On 24 February, Russia launched an offensive against Ukraine in response to its application for NATO membership. According to the Migrant Refugees website and data from the Ukrainian Ministry of Employment, which issues work permits to foreigners, Ukraine was home to over 16,000 expatriates in 2018. The raging communication war and rapid changes on the ground create an informational “fog of war” for both embassies and expatriates. To leave or to stay, what to do in case of a severe crisis for long-term expatriates?
Expatriating internationally for a long period of time means experiencing exceptional moments but also, in very rare cases, suffering constraints: a coup d’état, a natural disaster or a health problem that would not be covered by an international health insurance for expatriates can have serious consequences in your host country.
Expatriates and Medical Emergencies
You have obviously researched the country you will be relocating to, but there are certain precautions you should take before you leave to reduce health risks and ensure you know what to do in the event of a medical emergency abroad. It is also necessary to take out good international expatriate health cover before you plan to settle.
So, before you fly, find out about the healthcare system in the country you are expatriating to. We have written some guides on many countries on our blog. You should also be absolutely familiar with the telephone numbers for emergency services in your destination country.
Similarly, make sure you are up to date with your vaccinations and thoroughly check which ones you may require in your host country. Do you have a particular illness? Make sure that the medicines you need are available or that an alternative is recommended by your doctor in your destination country. Also remember to take a well-stocked first aid kit with you to deal with any minor incidents at home.
Expatriates and Natural Disasters
Obviously, you cannot predict a natural disaster, but you may be moving to an area prone to monsoons, typhoons or earthquakes.
Before you leave, make sure you know the procedures to follow in the event of a natural disaster and where to find accurate and reliable information. Beyond documentation, you can forestall such incidents by:
- Choosing a house well away from water sources.
- Securing your furniture.
- Preparing an evacuation backpack.
Expatriates and War, how to react?
As soon as you arrive in your host country, remember to register with your consulate or embassy: this will let them know you are in the country and you can be included in any communication or evacuation of expatriates. Since we are talking about the need to register, consider passing on the contact details of your relatives to a trusted person in your host country. As with your employer, it may be useful to leave your emergency contact details with them so that they know whom to contact in the event of an incident outside work.
Also check whether there is an evacuation plan in your workplace.
Last but not least, you should inform yourself via international, national and local media.
If you are unsure of the accuracy of the information provided by the local media, make sure you have a list of reliable international sources. You could also monitor social media for live updates. Also check the website of your local embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Diplomacy in your home country.
In the event of an emergency evacuation, your emergency kit should contain a number of essentials:
- Passports and important documents
- Ready cash
- Food and water
- Hand sanitiser
- A change of clothes
- Map and torch
- A first aid kit
Before moving abroad, it is important to know as much as possible about your host country. Discover our expat guides by country.