2020 highlighted spectacularly the critical role telecommunications play in our lives, while Covid-19 has reminded us that disease and misfortune don't recognise boundaries.
As its name says, Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) embraced both those principles from its founding in 1998, with headquarters in Pau, in the south of France. It was the world’s first non-government organisation (NGO) to focus on emergency response technologies. It’s experienced, skilled team constantly adapts tools to respond to different crises and beneficiaries’ needs in ever evolving humanitarian situations.
It also develops, adapts and makes available innovative and cost-effective solutions to assist migrants, refugees, displaced people and other disadvantaged communities in different areas, including education, healthcare, women’s rights and food security.
Responding to crises
In natural and other disasters, communications networks are often severely damaged, and in areas of deprivation, communications are typically scarce – and there is a demonstrable, direct link between access to communications and economic progress and success. Since its creation, TSF responded to over 140 crises in more than 70 countries providing communication means to over 20 million people and nearly 1,000 NGOs.
This year has been a painful, frightening and sad year for many, with TSF having an ever greater call on its services. The education programme in Syria, a country wracked by civil war since 2011, has probably been the most disrupted by Covid-19 among TSF's on-going projects, but there has been no shortage of disasters in which the pandemic is "just another" dimension.
For example, in Lebanon where the explosion in Beirut in August caused such terrific devastation on top of long-standing economic stagnation with many Lebonese people lacking basic services such as sanitation, running water, electricity and telecoms.
TSF also deployed on the ground soon after the terrible fire is the Lesvos Refugee Camp on a the Greek island in September. The displaced refugees from Lesvos were moved to the Kara Tepe camp, and TSF installed the first internet connection to cover the quarantine area of Kara Tepe which hosts asylum seekers with COVID-19.
TSF also set up emergency communications after two typhoons struck Honduras in November.
You can help
Best wishes to you all for a peaceful holiday season.
TSF is a member of the United Nations Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (UNETC), a partner of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and a member of the US State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy.