05 September 2014: Iraqi refugee children have access to education once again as Inmarsat-sponsored aid agency, Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF), sets up a new mobile learning (mLearning) centre two weeks after being forced to abandon the first.
TSF workers – alongside hundreds of families – had to flee Khazar camp in northern Iraq when Islamic State forces seized towns a few miles away.
Its new centre is in Baharka, 10km north of Erbil, an internally displaced people (IDP) camp that is home to 600 families – around 4,000 men, women and children.
Some 410 children are signed up to the camp’s traditional education programme, and TSF is working in conjunction with humanitarian charity Relief International to provide an mLearning centre to offer a more playful and interactive way of learning for children in an emergency situation.
The mLearning centre allows children in the camp to access the internet via Inmarsat’s BGAN service, using digital tablets, and so opening the door to a world of imagination, sharing and ultimately learning.
“Amongst all vulnerable populations in emergencies, children face the greatest risks – and the denial of basic rights such as access to education has a far more detrimental impact on the young,” said Alexander James Thomas, Head of Communications at TSF.
“Disasters and conflicts can isolate children from learning for long periods of time. This not only makes the difficulties of displacement and isolation worse in the short term, but can compromise a child’s entire future. In large scale emergencies denying large groups of children access to education can have an impact on an entire country’s ability to recover.”
TSF has also been using BGAN to improve coordination of relief efforts and transmit data where terrestrial communications are down, or out of reach, as well as providing IsatPhone Pro satellite phones so people can keep in touch with their families.
Most recently, it provided the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) with four Explorer 500 BGAN terminals for use in the towns of Salah Al-Din, Anbar, Kirkuk and Mosul, as well as training staff to use the equipment.
The United Nations estimate that 1.8 million Iraqis have been displaced since January, with around 850,000 seeking refuge in areas under control of Kurdistan.
Télécoms Sans Frontières: www.tsfi.org