Télécoms sans frontières

Télécoms sans frontières

Télécoms sans frontières or TSF (English: Telecoms Without Borders) is a secular humanitarian-aid non-governmental organization specialised in telecommunications in emergency situations.

It is based at Pau in France, and has three operational bases : Pau (France), Managua (Nicaragua) and Bangkok (Thailand).

The emergency telecommunication means provided benefit to the victims of natural disasters and of conflicts, and to the other humanitarian aid organisations.

TSF is presided by Jean-François Cazenave.

Why telecommunications is critical in emergencies

In emergencies telecommunication networks are often seriously damaged or destroyed. Some humanitarian crises also strike in areas with no existing communication facilities. Our rapid response telecommunications centers empower relief and rescue teams save lives by:

Sending and receiving information on logistics and the needs of the population within hours of an emergencyAchieve better coordination in the field with governments, other relief agencies, and home offices

Our civilian calling program supplements this service by giving affected civilians a free call anywhere in the world to:

* Receive personalized assistance and mental support
* Help reunite families
* Reinsure family abroad that they are alive and safe after the emergency

How it all started

The idea for Télécoms Sans Frontières was the result of a simple observation made after many years’ experience with general humanitarian charities, based on listening to those in need. During missions responding to the crisis in the Balkans and in Kurdistan during the 1st Gulf War, TSF’s founders realized that, in addition to medical and food aid, there was a critical need for reliable emergency telecommunications services. Conflicts and emergencies often led to massive civilian displacement and separated families. And affected populations are often left with no communications infrastructure in place to find assistance and loved ones.

During early missions in Kosovo, TSF’s founders were often approached by refugees with scraps of paper asking them, for example: “When you go home, please call my family at this number, tell them I’m alive, uncle has been killed but I’m alive and I’m at the refugee camp in Stenkovac.” To address the need for communications services, TSF bought its first satellite phone and the organization was born. Since this time, on every TSF mission we have offered a 3-minute call to any affected family.

TSF soon found that the international response teams that deploy to emergencies also had a critical need for reliable telecommunications services in the first days after an emergency. TSF therefore expanded its operations, improved its technology, and began to establish rapidly deployable emergency telecommunications centers to serve UN, government, and NGO humanitarian workers, and developed a reputation for being among the first to arrive after disasters.

TSF in 2008

Today TSF plays a key role in strengthening coordination and communication by deploying telecommunications centers within 48 hours of an emergency. These centers offer broadband Internet access, voice communications, fax lines and all the IT equipment needed for a field office. To do its work TSF uses highly portable and light satellite terminals deployable within minutes with a worldwide coverage – and teams in our three regional bases are o call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Since 1998, TSF has assisted in 60 emergencies on all of the 5. In 2007 alone, TSF deployed in 10 countries to the benefit of over 50,000 people and about 500 NGO and UN agencies. TSF has 3 deployment bases, in France, Nicaragua and Thailand.

More about Télécoms Sans Frontières

* Created in 1998 and now the leading NGO specializing in emergency telecommunications
* 3 operational bases for a worldwide coverage and response anywhere within 48 hours
* Missions in 50+ countries, serving millions of victims, 350+ UN Agencies and NGOs
* Supported by some of the biggest telecommunications companies and foundations
* Designated “First Emergency Telecoms Responder”; OCHA and UNICEF partner within the UN Emergency Telecoms Cluster (ETC)
* Partner of the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO)
* Member of the UN Working Group on emergency Telecommunications (WGET)

External links

* [http://www.tsfi.org Official website of TSF]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7367135.stm BBC News: Building digital life lines]


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