DR Congo + 1 more

Conflict in DRC - TSF deploys to support Congo refugees fleeing combats into Uganda

Ishasha (UGANDA), 24 November 2008. Thousand more refugees fleeing combats in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have crossed the border into Uganda last week. The latest influx brought the total number of refugee arrivals to more than 14,500 since a ceasefire between Nkunda's National Congress for the Defence of the People and government forces broke down in late August. An estimated 1 million people have been forced from their homes to other regions in DRC or into Uganda in the intensified battles.

Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) deployed Thursday 20 November from its headquarters in France to Uganda to offer the chance to a maximum of refugees from Congo to give news to their relatives and call for help. After having conducted a needs assessment in Kisoro, one of the two main transit points at the border with DRC, TSF was in Ishasha on Monday, another important access point into Uganda further North.

Tuesday, TSF will travel to Nakivale where nearly 30,000 refugees (of which 6,400 of new arrivals due to recent combats) were transferred from the border to more secure resettlement centres 5 hours-drive from the border. TSF will run humanitarian calling operations to facilitate family reunion. Many family members have been separated when fleeing the combats in the past weeks and are left without any news from their loved ones.

TSF also continues to assess the needs of the humanitarian community and could install centres with satellite-based Internet connections and all the necessary IT equipment to support coordination of aid efforts and enable communication from the most isolated areas.

Finally, TSF is also ready to deploy to DRC and to send more staff and equipment if needed. Unfortunately, security conditions do not allow for the moment. Many humanitarian organizations had to evacuate the majority of their staff or in the best case limit movements to the strict minimum.

TSF's mission is supported by the Vodafone Foundation and United Nations Foundation technology partnership, Inmarsat, Eutelsat, Vizada, AT&T, Cable & Wireless, PCCW Global and the Regional Council of Aquitaine.

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 France, Nicaragua and in Thailand, Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) crews of IT and telecoms specialists can intervene anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours after any sudden onset disaster or conflict and in a matter of minutes set up a satellite-based telecoms centre offering broadband Internet, phone and fax lines. These centres enable emergency NGO, the United Nations and local authorities to communicate right at the heart of event. They also facilitate the coordination of aid efforts. In parallel, TSF also 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.

TSF celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year. Since its creation in 1998, TSF deployed to over 50 countries and assisted almost 500 relief organisations and millions of victims. 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 is First Responder of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC).

Télécoms Sans Frontières is also a working group member of the United Nations emergency telecoms body (WGET). TSF is a partner of the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission (ECHO) and a member of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA).