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TSF’s year on the frontline of disaster response

19 March 2020:

Emergency telecommunications agency Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) was active in 13 countries across four continents in 2019, helping over 630,000 vulnerable people.

The Inmarsat-sponsored NGO details its global activities in its newly-published annual report, which includes responding to four major natural disasters and providing assistance during complex humanitarian crises.

Last year, emergency deployments included sending teams to set up communication centres for NGOs and local populations in the Bahamas, Mozambique and the Philippines. Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique’s coastal region last March, causing more than 1,000 deaths and leaving 1.85 million people in need of humanitarian support. Less than six weeks later, another powerful cyclone – Kenneth – battered the coast 1,000km to the north.

Communities destroyed

Last September, the Bahamas was in the path of Hurricane Dorian, the most powerful storm to hit the region since records began. The Category 5 tropical cyclone destroyed entire communities and left 70,000 people in need of food and shelter. Then in December, the Bicol region of the Philippines was struck by Typhoon Kammuri.

Often the first NGO on the ground when natural disasters occur, TSF uses Inmarsat Global Xpress and BGAN satellite broadband services to set up fast, reliable communication links for aid agencies and national governments coordinating relief efforts, as well as offering victims free satellite phone calls.

Throughout 2019 TSF also continued to support hospitals in Syria, humanitarian agencies working with migrants in the Balkans and Central America, and education programmes for child refugees.

Digital divide

The organisation helped bridge the digital divide by giving remote communities in Madagascar and Burkina Faso access to digital tools and connectivity, and ran crisis communication training sessions around the world for the benefit of international NGOs, government agencies and the United Nations.

Last year also saw the end of the UK Space Agency International Partnership Programme in the Philippines. In the three-year project, TSF and Inmarsat built local operational capacity dedicated to saving lives through improved disaster response. Government personnel are now trained to deploy six emergency satellite communication kits.

Inmarsat Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Alison Horrocks said: “This year we will mark 20 years of partnership with TSF. This is a truly important relationship for us, and the admiration we have for the work their telecoms experts do in bringing life-saving communications to those who need them most in the most challenging environments imaginable remains undimmed.”