TSF is on the Lybian border supporting hundreds of refugees
fleeing the violent crackdown
February 26th, 2011 – For one week, following the violent crackdown, thousands of people have fled Libya. Humanitarian organizations face up to a massive drain of populations.
TSF is currently on the Libyan border supporting the humanitarian community and the affected populations.
A first TSF team arrived on 24 February at the Ras Ajdir frontier post near to Ben Guerdane, the first Tunisian town after the Libyan border. A second team, sent as reinforcements from the international headquarters of TSF, is about to join them.
TSF experts have immediately coordinated with the response organisms on the ground, the Red Crescent, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Tunisian Civil Defense and the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO).
As soon as they cross the border and return to their native country of Tunisia, the Tunisian refugees are supported by Tunisian civilians who organize solidarity networks for their fellow-countrymen.
Other populations fleeing Libya in thousands take refuge in a transit camp, 6kms far from the Libyan border.
In that camp, TSF experts, in collaboration with the Red Crescent are responding to the urgent telecommunications needs of the displaced populations. Indeed, it has been reported that civilians are stopped at several checkpoints in Libya, where their ID cards and the SIM cards of their mobile phones are confiscated.
TSF organizes humanitarian calling operations to meet the needs of these refugees, in order to provide them with priority free calls towards anywhere in the world to give news to their families and relatives, receive a mental relief or ask for a personal assistance. On 25 February, over 200 calls were offered to the populations. 98% of those calls were for Egypt. Today, in association with the International Committee of the Red Cross, TSF is continuing its calling operations. Crowds of people are waiting in long queues to make phone calls.
In parallel, TSF has opened emergency connections and is providing vital ICT support to the UNHCR teams and the Tunisian Red Crescent based at the Ras Ajdir frontier post. These connections (Internet, telephone, and fax) and support are essential; they enable emergency humanitarian workers responding to this crisis to share vital information and to more efficiently coordinate their actions.
In case of massive population displacements, communications are the life lines enabling exiles to regain an identity at the heart of the crisis.
About Télécoms Sans Frontières
Télécoms Sans Frontières: the leading humanitarian NGO specialised in emergency telecommunications With its 24-hour monitoring centre and relying on its operational bases in Europe, Central America and Asia, Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) crews of IT and telecoms specialists can intervene anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours. After a sudden onset disaster or conflict, they can set up in a matter of minutes a satellite-based telecoms centre offering broadband Internet, phone and fax lines. These centres enable emergency NGOs, the United Nations and local authorities to communicate right at the heart of a crisis. They also facilitate the coordination of aid efforts. In parallel, TSF runs humanitarian calling operation to offer support and assistance to affected civilians, giving them a link with the outside world from which they would be otherwise completely cut off. Beyond emergency response, TSF is also engaged in ongoing prevention and development programs, including technology centres for local populations, and support to projects in collaboration with stakeholders from multiple sectors (health, agriculture, education…).
TSF also organizes general training sessions in emergency telecommunications for other relief organizations and national disaster response agencies in order to reinforce the efficiency of humanitarian action worldwide. Emergency kits are provided to country offices, made of satellite communications and IT equipment and including power supplies, so that when commercial infrastructure is cut, offices can stay connected, report and coordinate with the central agency. These long-term education and training projects lead to positive impacts in economic development as well as capacity building of humanitarian organizations. Since its creation in 1998, TSF deployed to 60 countries and assisted more than 570 relief organizations and hundreds of thousands of victims. TSF is partner of the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO). In 2006, TSF became a partner of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). TSF was designated “First Emergency Telecoms Responder” within the United Nations Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC). Télécoms Sans Frontières is also a working group member of the United Nations emergency telecoms body (WGET) and a member of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA).
For more information, consult: www.tsfi.org