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UN Tech Experts Help Pakistan Flood Victims

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Around 945 victims have been given access to mobile and satellite calls to connect with friends and families abroad

Technology experts from the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and charity Telecoms Sans Frontieres are providing emergency telecoms services to the victims of the flooding in Pakistan.

In a statement released this week, the UN ITU said that it is working with the government of Pakistan towards repairing the country’s telecommunication infrastructure, which the organisation said has been “rendered inoperative” in many parts of the country.

First Call Since Disaster Hit

“The whole world is in deep shock as this tragedy continues to unfold,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré. “ITU stands in utmost solidarity with the people of Pakistan in their hour of need and I join UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in urging our stakeholders to respond generously to meet the urgent demand for relief and rehabilitation efforts.”

Meanwhile, TSF, which has been in Pakistan since 9 August, said it has been providing telecoms services to victims of the flooding to allow them to call relatives and friends abroad. Around 945 families have been provided with calls so far, according to TSF. “For many people, the call provided by TSF is the first call since the outbreak of the disaster,” the organisation said. “Many victims have lost their mobile phone or are in places with no electricity to recharge or simply have no money to buy credit.”

According to UN officials, the Pakistan floods cover an area the size of England with up to 20 million people affected. At least 1,600 people have been killed, with health officials warning the toll could rise as water-borne diseases spread, TSF reported.

TSF said it has 8 mobile teams, equipped with satellite and GSM phones, in the districts of Peshawar, Nowshera and Charsadda and plan to operate in the country for at least a month. The teams are composed of one man and one woman to allow both men and women to make a call, TSF said.

Disaster Zones

Telecoms Sans Frontieres (TSF) deployed to Haiti in January to respond the impact of the earthquake in the country. The charity specialises in setting up communications infrastructure to allow aid-agencies to communicate on the ground more effectively.

In June, Satellite provider Inmarsat was awarded the UK’s most prestigious prize for engineering innovation, thanks in part to its role in providing communications to disaster zones around the world.