Aid workers in Mali have vital emergency telecom equipment thanks to UN agency

Photo: ITU

15 March 2013 – The United Nations telecommunications agency has provided emergency satellite equipment to support humanitarian workers in Mali with voice and high-speed data access.

“At a time when Mali is recovering from conflict, relief effort by UN humanitarian agencies is much needed to assist people in the affected towns and villages,” the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary-General, Hamadoun I. Touré, said in a press release.

The ITU supplied 30 Thuraya satellite phones to the World Health Organization (WHO), along with equipment to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to facilitate humanitarian work in northern Mali.

“ITU is working with WHO and UNHCR to provide requisite support with emergency telecommunication equipment, which is critical in coordinating operations to help the people affected by the crisis.”

Richard Brennan, WHO Director of Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response, said the deployment will help fill a major resource gap in the health sector’s response to the Mali crisis.

“During a humanitarian crisis, WHO operations require a range of logistical equipment, including communications for health information management and to comply with field security measures,” Mr. Brennan said.

Fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels broke out in northern Mali last January, after which radical Islamists seized control of the area. The conflict uprooted thousands of people and prompted the Malian Government to request military assistance from France to stop the progression of extremist groups.

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