TSF deploys aid team to Lebanon after Beirut port explosion

TSF deploys aid team to Lebanon after Beirut port explosion

07 August 2020 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Télécoms sans Frontières (TSF), the industry’s aid charity, sent its team to Lebanon this morning to provide comms assistance to rescue teams after Tuesday’s explosion.

At least 137 were killed and more than 5,000 were injured in the explosion, believed to be caused by ammonium nitrate that was stored in a warehouse in the port.

“We’ve deployed a team in collaboration with the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) teams and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) to provide reliable communications in the area of the disaster,” Monique Lanne-Petit, director of TSF, told Capacity this morning.

At the moment, the local telecoms networks remain unreliable, and electricity is provided almost only through generators, she explained.

In the picture, TSF’s Marta Moreton Arancon is seen at Pau airport – the city where TSF is based – on her way via Paris with the rest of the team to Beirut this morning.

TSF said its connections will facilitate the coordination of UNDAC’s search and rescue teams working to assist the victims of the disaster, as well as the assessment operations.

The assessments include not only an evaluation of the damage caused by the explosion, but also the environmental consequences and risks linked to the chemicals released during the accident, which are threatening the health of Beirut’s inhabitants.

In addition, since the Beirut port is only partially operational, there may be a significant impact on the delivery of humanitarian aid to support the over 300,000 people made homeless by the disaster.

Finally, TSF should also provide connectivity to the UNOCHA regional office, which is situated in the area of the explosion and has been badly damaged.

TSF is working with several humanitarian organisations and governments are sending teams on the ground to support all the relief operations.

Lanne-Petit said: “To be effective and quick, all these require strong coordination, which can be ensured only through reliable telecommunications. In a situation that is still unclear, TSF support will be essential to ensure humanitarian support can be provided as fast as possible.”

Members of the telecoms industry can support TSF and its work throughout the world by going to https://www.tsfi.org/en/support-us?set_language=en. Capacity will keep readers updated on the progress of TSF’s mission.

Capacity is also planning to report on the disaster’s effect on local and subsea telecoms and data infrastructure.