25 March 2015: Tropical Cyclone Pam hit the Vanuatu island nation in the South Pacific Ocean on 12 March destroying vast parts of the country with 250km/h winds.
In the aftermath of the storm, 65,000 people have been left in need of shelter with scarce food and fresh water, and most of the island’s telecommunication infrastructures are down.
Inmarsat-sponsored telecoms aid agency Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) was first on the scene to provide the vital satellite communications required for the coordination of relief efforts, and to assist field assessments.
TSF’s mission in Vanuatu is supported under mandate of the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO).
Inmarsat BGAN terminals have been set up and broadband connectivity established in Tanna, Santo, Port Vila and Erromango.
With NGOs and United Nations (UN) agencies based in the capital of Port-Vila, alongside the Emergency Telecoms Custer of the UN, TSF has also created a Wi-Fi bridge to provide a 24/7 BGAN internet connection for the management of relief efforts in the area.
In addition, TSF is using Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro handled satellite phones to provide vital voice communication for the region as well as humanitarian calling operations.
Free priority calls are being offered to those affected by the disaster to let family and loved ones know that they are safe and well.
To date 18 IsatPhone Pros have been deployed to locations throughout Vanuatu, including a hospital in Tanna, the Prime Minister’s office, and Erromango, where the GSM network is still out of service.