Skip to main content

Exceptional Assistance Measures for Victims of Terrorist Incidents Overseas

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

Since 2004, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has offered specific consular assistance for British victims of terrorist incidents and their families. This assistance, known as the Aftercare Plan, recognised that in many cases travel insurance explicitly excluded acts of terrorism from cover. The plan provided support to victims of terrorist attacks overseas and family members in the exceptional circumstances where travel insurance was not available to meet support and repatriation costs.

Acts of terrorism overseas, as opposed to other crimes, justify this level of support because we consider terrorism to be acts taken against society as a whole, in which individuals are usually random victims. Although the same might be said of other serious, violent incidents, these measures are distinctly for incidents we deem to be acts of terrorism.

The Aftercare Plan, now more than three years old, has been revised to reflect the FCO’s experience with victims and families, and to reflect that travel insurance is now more likely to cover terrorism. Our new policy is called “Exceptional Assistance Measures for Terrorist Incidents Overseas”, in order to more accurately describe the purpose of this financial assistance and our role in providing support to victims and their families.

As was the case with the Aftercare Plan, this provision is not a form of compensation. It is a means by which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can recompense for actual expenditure, following a terrorist incident overseas, where there is no other available source of financial assistance. The measures aim to alleviate the immediate needs of those affected.

FCO Ministers will only consider activating the assistance measures for those British nationals who have taken all appropriate steps to provide for themselves in case of an emergency abroad, but find themselves without resources as the result of a terrorist incident.

Key elements are:

i) The measures will only be activated as a last resort, where financial assistance is not made available through other means, that is, from the Government of the country where the incident took place, insurance providers or other agencies and organisations;

ii) Assistance, under these measures, will not be made available to those who have travelled without travel insurance, or to a country or region for which the FCO had advised against all travel;

iii) The measures do not cover medical care in the UK or long-term care in relation to conditions relating to the effects of the terrorist incident;

iv) Ministers retain a residual discretion to activate the measures for all British nationals who have become victims of a particular terrorist incident in such very exceptional circumstances.