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Victims of Terrorist Incidents Overseas

Volume 603: debated on Thursday 10 December 2015

For just over 10 years the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has offered special assistance, on a case-by-case basis, to British nationals involved in a terrorist incident overseas. Since 2008, this type of assistance has been known as “Exceptional Assistance Measures” (EAM). It allows Ministers to activate special measures which go above our normal level of consular support which vary according to the circumstances of each situation. It is only activated in extremis and once other financial avenues have been exhausted.

In 2010, the policy was updated by the then Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to include those British nationals who had not taken out travel insurance prior to travelling. In line with standard consular policy, EAM has been applied in cases only when a British national has been directly affected, often injured or killed, in a terrorist incident. It has not been offered to British relatives of a foreign national directly involved in a terrorist incident overseas.

We have applied EAM in 2015 for a number of terrorist incidents, including the attack in Sousse in June in which 30 British nationals were killed, and most recently for the response to the attacks in Paris on 13 November. For the Sousse attack, EAM was used to repatriate the bodies of British nationals killed and to arrange medical evacuations for British nationals injured in the incident.

The FCO conducted a review of the EAM policy in 2015 involving interested parties and stakeholders. We concluded that, while there would be no changes to the overall policy, the FCO should improve the information we provide internally and externally on EAM. We will update FCO consular public advice on EAM accordingly through future publications.