Inmarsat-sponsored Télécoms Sans Frontières’ (TSF) mission in Haiti is now coming to an end, after providing three weeks of on-site emergency communications support to humanitarian organisations and the people affected by the earthquake that hit on 14 August 2021, causing more than 2,200 deaths and injuries to over 12,000 people.
Arriving in Haiti the day after the Earthquake, TSF quickly established a Global Xpress satellite broadband connection, which enabled a coordinated approach alongside the various telecom organisations to provide the National Emergency Operations Center (COUN) in the capital Port-au-Prince with reliable connectivity.
Complications on the mission included rising security risks and roadblocks which put convoys at risk and made it very difficult to get to the affected areas. This inaccessibility was compounded by road damage caused by the heavy rains from Storm Grace that hit the country just four days after the earthquake.
TSF team were able to join the first convoys heading to the southwest of the country a few days later and installed a broadband satellite connection in the first humanitarian coordination centre. This provided vital satellite communications for all relief organisations on the ground, including the United Nations, the Civil Protection, the National Centre for Emergency Operations (COUN) and Help.ngo. For added security, TSF provided IsraAID with IsatPhone 2 satellite phones as well.
Mobile Wi-Fi operations
TSF also went on to provide a second connection at the operational centre of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Les Cayes. And to ensure that isolated communities in the surrounding areas were able to stay in touch with loved ones and share images and details about their struggles, TSF sent a team out with Global Xpress mobile Wi-Fi operations, that enabled video calls for a few hours.
As the team on the ground explained, just one video call can quickly become a call for the whole community, which results in big smiles and deep appreciation. “It is very important for us and a very big thank you!”, were the words shared by the members of these communities.
And finally, TSF provided support to the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC), which uses satellite connectivity for its operations in Jérémie and Les Cayes. UNDAC have been gathering detailed information about the damage caused by the earthquake and the requirements of the people of Haiti, to be presented back to Haiti’s governmental agencies and organisations that are part of the disaster response.
Although the TSF team has left the country, they are maintaining contact with organisations on the ground and are monitoring the connections, so that they can provide remote assistance whenever it is needed.
Inmarsat is proud to have been the official satellite communication partner to TSF since 2000, which has enabled us to support the world’s first NGO focusing on emergency-response technologies with financial aid and airtime, as well as pro-bono legal services from 2019.