Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO)

A Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) is a military operation conducted to assist Global Affairs Canada (GAC) in evacuating Canadians and eligible persons from threatening circumstances in a foreign nation and moving them to a safe haven.

How NEO operates

A NEO is designed to deploy Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members in a short or no-notice situation as a result of a sudden, rapidly deteriorating situation that threatens the safety of Canadians abroad.

GAC is the lead agency in an evacuation operation and will only seek assistance from the Department of National Defence and the CAF after all other options for helping Canadians to leave an affected zone have been exhausted. 

Once the Government of Canada has approved a NEO, the CAF will: 

  • deploy an appropriately scaled Joint Task Force (JTF)* to the affected nation; and
  • coordinate its activities in support of GAC and the Canadian Head of Mission.

*Under the command of Canadian Joint Operations Command, 1st Canadian Division would form the JTF specifically established for the NEO. This may integrate personnel and capabilities from the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy.

The NEO ends when GAC determines that all willing Canadians and eligible persons have been safely relocated and CAF assistance is no longer required.

NEO participating organizations

Although the local government in the affected region is normally supportive of evacuation efforts, in an uncertain environment this support may be limited or non-existent. Local government forces such as the police or military may assist the NEO when the government of the affected nation has the capability to do so. 

The Canadian Armed Forces will also work with other Canadian government departments, international military partners, and international organizations during a NEO.

Global Affairs Canada

Global Affairs Canada (GAC)

As the lead agency in an evacuation operation, GAC will be responsible for:

  • issuing travel advice;
  • developing evacuation plans;
  • identifying potential safe haven locations in consultation with military planners, as necessary; and
  • communicating with affected Canadians.

  • GAC could be supported by other departments and organizations including, but not limited to:

  • Canada Border Services Agency;
  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; and
  • the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
  • Canadian Head of Mission

    Canadian Head of Mission (HOM)

    The HOM is the senior Canadian diplomat representing the Government of Canada in the affected nation, such as the Ambassador or Chargé d’Affaires.

    The HOM is responsible for the planning and conduct of an evacuation; each Global Affairs Canada diplomatic mission has a pre-existing contingency plan in place to provide guidance during a crisis. This includes the reception, assembly, processing, logistical support, and movement of evacuees within the affected nation.

    Non-governmental organizations

    Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international organizations

    NGOs and international organizations such as the United Nations may be in the affected nation providing humanitarian assistance or other forms of relief when the NEO takes place. These organizations will likely have their own evacuation plans, which may have to be coordinated with those of Canada and other partners.

    Past NEO deployments

    Operation MOBILE

    Operation MOBILE

    Operation MOBILE began on 25 February 2011 with the formation of a Joint Task Force to first evacuate Canadians and other foreign nationals from an uprising in Libya against the regime of Moammar Gadhafi. Following the last evacuation on 8 March 2011, the operation was re-established and re-focused on multi-national combat operations to protect Libyan civilians from the Qadaffi regime in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions

    Operation LION

    Operation LION

    Operation LION commenced on 18 July 2006 in order to facilitate the evacuation of Canadians from Lebanon who wished to leave the country because of the deteriorating security environment in the area. Seven ships were chartered by Global Affairs Canada to evacuate the Canadians, and the operation ended on 3 September 2006.

    Operation PRINCIPAL

    Operation PRINCIPAL

    NGOs and international organizations such as the United Nations may be in the affected nation providing humanitarian assistance or other forms of relief when the NEO takes place. These organizations will likely have their own evacuation plans, which may have to be coordinated with those of Canada and other partners.

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