Thousands of families in Philippines use free call lifeline

04 December 2013: Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF), the Inmarsat-sponsored emergency telecoms agency, has provided 4,200 families with 12,000 minutes of free calls since Typhoon Haiyan hit.

TSF Philippines

Just one typhoon victim to benefit was Junel, a seven year old boy who was left alone, following the storm. Thanks to TSF, Junel’s father, who works in Manila, was able to speak to his son for the first time in almost a month, having feared he was dead.

The humanitarian calling operations across 17 towns in the Philippines have been made possible via Inmarsat’s BGAN terminals and IsatPhone Pro satellite phones.

Vital communications

TSF was on the ground in the Philippines the day before the typhoon hit on 8 November to establish telecoms centres for over 30 international organisations and government agencies and a BGAN satellite connection in Tacloban General Hospital.

The agency is relied upon to establish rapidly deployable emergency telecommunications centres to serve UN, government, and NGO humanitarian workers, acting in partnership with the United Nations’ agencies OCHA – Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – and UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.

More than three weeks since 195 mph (315 km/h) winds and a 20ft (6m) high storm surge caused devastation, victims of the disaster are still relying on TSF for vital communications.

Cyber centre

On 30 November the first TSF Emergency Cyber Centre in Guiuan was opened, regularly welcoming 80 visitors a day.

The centre offers high-speed satellite internet connection for 10 users at a time and provides much-needed communications for local people who can send emails, use social media and make internet calls.

Further TSF operations are now planned for the Eastern Samar province, which is still without network coverage.

Télécoms Sans Frontières: www.tsfi.org