TSF helping refugees from Tombouctou and Gao for 10 months

Report
from Télécoms Sans Frontières
Published on 29 Jan 2013 View Original

TSF is helping refugees from Tombouctou and Gao for 10 months thanks to its satellite telecom equipment.

In the Sahel region, the security conditions have significantly deteriorated in March 2012 with the massive arrival in Mali neighboring countries of refugees fleeing the fighting between the Tuareg rebels and the regular army. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees there are more than 144 400 refugees in the neighbouring countries.

According to WFP, since last August, humanitarian support is the main means of survival for most of the Sahel people. In order to reinforce the assistance to vulnerable populations, TSF is providing reliable and rapid satellite communications for a better coordination of the organisations in the field.

Given the extremely complex security context in the Sahel region, TSF is using both fixed and mobile satellite equipment to connect its humanitarian Hubs and the teams during their trips.

  • Abala refugee camp, 400 km from Gao:

On 24th April 2012, TSF installed a Vsat satellite antenna in the coordination offices of ACTED and UNHCR within the Abala camp which is now hosting more than 14,300 refugees. The humanitarian hub offers a secured Wifi connection to the 30 humanitarian workers who come daily to connect: MSF Switzerland, MSF France, CARE International, Islamic Relief, CADEV, HELP, VSF Belgium, ACTED and UNHCR…

The 94Mb exchanged from the TSF humanitarian hub allow a more efficient daily management of the information and a coordinated response of all the actors in the area.

  • Gorom-Gorom refugee camp, 200km from Gao:

The installation by TSF of the Vsat satellite connection on 11th July 2012 within the offices of Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium (VSF-B) in Gorom-Gorom, north-eastern Burkina Faso, enabled the NGOs and United Nations agencies working in the area to exchange 41Mb of data.

The connection is benefitting to VSF-B, A2N, UNHCR, Red Cross, Save the Children, HELP, AEC, TASSATH, Afrique Verte and AGED. The DPASSN and the Discrict Direction of Health also regularly use the humanitarian hub.

Before the intervention of TSF, the organisations in the area were forced to cover every week the 57 km separating Gorom-Gorom from Dori, the departmental capital, to find a good Internet access. Since then, the TSF connection supports the implementation of emergency activities which notably increased since May 2012, and facilitates the communication between the field and the central services at national and international levels.

  • Djibo refugee camp, 330km from Tombouctou:

On 19th July, the TSF satellite connection in the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is reinforcing the actions of all the NGOs in the area (Oxfam…) with refugees in the camps north of Djibo, where more than 15,000 people are living. 59 Mb of data have been exchanged.

In the region of Gorom-Gorom, few kilometers from the Mali border, the mobile network is operational but the Internet access is only possible through Edge network or 3G keys, thus the connection is very slow and not reliable at all.

The precarious security conditions are making emergency humanitarian intervention even more difficult and jeopardizing vulnerable populations’ survival. TSF satellite communications allow a better coordination of field teams and thus reinforce their actions with Sahel people.