15 June 2015: Emergency communications agency Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) has announced that just six weeks after the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Nepal on 25 April and a second with a magnitude of 7.3 hit on 12 May, over 7,000 family members were reunited thanks to Inmarsat’s support.
Often the first on the scene following a disaster, TSF carries out humanitarian calling operations dispatching Emergency Response Teams to villages and communities to offer free national or international calls using Inmarsat’s IsatPhone Pro mobile satellite phone.
The calls enable those affected by the disaster to reach out for financial help or material aid from friends and family abroad – and more often than not simply let loved ones know they are safe.
With the total number of fatalities following both disasters currently standing at over 8,600 each call can provide a communications lifeline.
One such incident occurred during operations in Laprak’s temporary camps when a lady asked TSF if they could go and see her father in his tent.
“Aged 87, the bed-stricken gentleman had injured both of his legs during the first earthquake and had not been able to move since,” said Alexander James Thomas, Head of Communications at TSF, who has been working on the ground in Nepal.
“The telephone call offered by my team allowed the gentleman to contact his family who had not yet heard from him. The gentleman, his daughters and grandsons were extremely moved to hear his voice and relieved to learn that he was still alive.”
In the same region, when villagers found a man in a forest with a broken leg they carried him back to the camp where TSF was conducting calling operations. A Nepalese Officer there was able to use our IsatPhone Pro to call for assistance and in just 20 minutes a helicopter had arrived to transport him, along with other injured villagers, to a field hospital for treatment.
As part of its support, TSF has also been facilitating coordination relief efforts by providing satellite communications capacities to international NGOs and United Nations Agencies working in Nepal via our BGAN service.
Internet connections are used to enhance coordination efforts by enabling information, reports, damages and needs assessments to be shared in order to provide effective aid distribution, medical care and disaster response to areas that are often difficult to access.
TSF has since been recognised in a letter of thanks sent by the Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs at the UN.