Geneva, 6 April 2011— ITU’s response to the spate of natural disasters in rapidly deploying emergency equipment to restore vital telecommunication links has evoked support from governments, development banks, regional financial institutions, UN agencies and the private sector.
Most recently, financial support has poured in from the governments of Australia, Canada and China. Previous donors include El Salvador, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Peru, Samoa, Suriname and Uganda.
The aid is provided under the aegis of the ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies which gives priority to telecommunications as a means of saving lives.
“Recent natural disasters have caused immense loss of life and destruction of property and infrastructure,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré. “In response to these tragedies, ITU has deployed emergency telecommunications assistance to the far corners of the world, and I am very pleased that our efforts have been recognized and supported by our Member States and other partners. In particular, I am thankful to the generous financial support extended by the governments of Australia, Canada and China.”
ITU deployed satellite-based assistance for the first time in 2005 in the aftermath of the December 2004 Asian earthquake and tsunami. Since then, ITU has provided emergency telecommunications services to several countries around the world, including assistance to those affected by the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005 and the floods in 2010, the cyclone in Myanmar and the Sichuan earthquake in China in 2008, the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile in 2010 and, most recently, following the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Re-establishing communications is a critical tool especially in the immediate aftermath of disasters to ensure timely intervention and support for the victims and to assist in rescue and rehabilitation efforts.
Mr Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, said, “As the specialized UN agency for ICT, ITU is mandated to provide telecommunications/ICT assistance to Member States and other entities affected by natural disasters. ITU depends on our Member States and partners to help us in delivering this much-needed assistance, and I am thankful to the governments of Australia, Canada and China for stepping forward.”