TSF provides comms lifeline to stricken Philippines

TSF provides emergency aid to Philippines

12 November 2013:  Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) is working with the United Nations (UN) to help co-ordinate relief efforts following Typhoon Haiyan.

An estimated 10,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands have lost their homes in the Philippines.

One of the most powerful storms ever to make landfall, Haiyan – named “Yolanda” by Filipino authorities – first hit the eastern coastal provinces of Leyte and Samar on 8 November.

Satellite communications

It then headed west, sweeping through six central Philippine islands.

TSF sent two teams equipped with Inmarsat BGAN satellite terminals and IsatPhone Pro satellite phones to the country before the typhoon struck.

“We were able to set up three telecom centres for relief co-ordination before the influx of humanitarian aid arrived in the aftermath of Haiyan,” said a TSF spokesman.

Free calls

The centres are providing communications for the Filipino National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, as well as the country’s Ministry of Telecommunication – used by United Nations agencies – and other humanitarian organisations.

TSF has sent one of its teams to Tacloban in Leyte – which was largely flattened by a massive storm surge.

It has set up humanitarian calling operations in the city so that local people can make free calls via satellite to let loved ones outside the country know they arealive.

Relief efforts

The Inmarsat-sponsored telecoms agency has also supplied two IsatPhone Pro handsets to the Filipino Minister of Home Affairs and his deputy to help them co-ordinate relief efforts.

And, collaborating with local phone operator SMART, TSF has carried out assessments of telephone networks in the areas hit by the storm.

They estimate that it will be at least two months before terrestrial communications networks can be restored.

Télécoms Sans Frontières: www.tsfi.org