Télécoms Sans Frontières deploys to Timbuktu in Mali

A team of communications specialists from emergency telecoms agency Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) has been deployed to Timbuktu in Mali.

They left TSF's international headquarters in France equipped with enough satellite communications equipment to set up four emergency telecom centres.

The move by the Inmarsat-sponsored aid agency comes days after French and Malian troops seized Timbuktu back from Islamist militants, and recaptured large parts of northern Mali.

Vital information
“The team is equipped with Inmarsat BGAN terminals and IsatPhone Pro handheld satellite phones, which will be used to create four emergency telecom centres,” said TSF spokeswoman Laure Crampe.

“This equipment will reinforce the capabilities of humanitarian workers in the region of Timbuktu enabling them to share vital information to manage the very critical humanitarian situation in this area.

“The communication is very disturbed in northern Mali, where land lines and mobile networks have been cut off in several towns, and the activities of the non-governmental organisations in this region are very limited because of security concerns.”

Helping refugees
The new emergency telecom centres are in addition to another four that were set up by TSF in April in the biggest refugee camps on the Mali borders.

People fled to the camps after Islamist fighters extended their control of the north of Mali in the wake of a military coup.

The UN estimates that around at 225,000 people have been displaced within Mali and more than 144,000 others have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

TSF: www.tsfi.org