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International Telecommunication Union
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Alexandria meeting seeks to strengthen international cooperation in emergency telecommunications
ITU and Télécoms Sans Frontières form partnership

Geneva, 17 April 2007 — Tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, floods, landslides, forest fires a spate of disasters in recent times has spelt havoc around the world, profoundly impacting its victims, their environment and their livelihoods. The legacy of lost and broken lives, economic upheaval and sheer devastation has imposed long-lasting impediments to sustainable development and global efforts at poverty reduction. The poor, especially those living in remote and isolated areas, are the most vulnerable and disaster-prone, and international attention has inevitably focused on least developed countries and small island developing states.

Access to information and communication facilities is essential for providing vital early-warning information as well as quick response for humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation in the aftermath of disasters. Aiming to strengthen international cooperation in the use of information and communication technology for disaster mitigation, a conference in Alexandria, Egypt, 14-17 April 2007 brought together nearly 400 participants including senior government and telecommunication regulatory officials, United Nations Agencies, NGOs, academics and the private sector.

The International Telecommunication Union co-organized the event along with the League of Arab States; the Arab Ministerial Council of ICTs, Health and Environment; World Health Organization; United Nations Environment Programme; Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE); and the Arab Academy for Science & Technology & Maritime Transport. The conference was inaugurated by the Minister of Social Solidarity of Egypt, Dr Ali Al-Moselhi.

Emergency telecommunications deemed critical

Speaking at the opening session, Mr Sami Al-Basheer, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau noted that emergency telecommunication is a key priority for ITU. "Any disaster reduction measure that is not linked to telecommunications does not go far enough," he said. "For this reason, a ubiquitous, resilient, and multi-hazard telecommunications network is critical." Mr Al-Basheer added that ITU is ready to provide the partnership link with its Member States and Sector Members, as repeatedly emphasized by ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré.

Participants included Sir David Veness, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security, Mr Adel Labib, Governor of Alexandria, and Dr Nadia Makaram Ebeid, Executive Director of CEDARE.

The meeting, which concluded its deliberations today, provided a platform for best practices in disseminating vital information on disaster management, environmental monitoring, and delivery of ICT applications/services such as e-health for the benefit of disaster victims. Future objectives aim at:

  • Identifying appropriate technologies and options for disaster communications

  • Enhancing institutional and human capacity

  • Conducting drills and simulations for telecommunications applications in disaster management

  • Preparing case studies to draw lessons and facilitate exchange among countries

  • Establishing appropriate regulatory and legal frameworks for ratification and implementation of the Tampere Convention

  • Bandung Declaration seeks development of ICT for emergencies

    The conference in Alexandria follows the Bandung Declaration of 28 March 2007that calls upon ITU to launch a global project to develop ICT resources that can be deployed in a timely manner anywhere in the world in the event of a disaster. It seeks to build on the goals set by the World Summit on the Information Society, the resolutions and programmes adopted by ITU’s World Telecommunication Development Conference in Doha in March 2006, and the resolutions adopted by the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference held in Antalya, Turkey in November 2006.

    ITU and Télécoms Sans Frontières form partnership

    As part of its ongoing effort to promote international cooperation and multi-stakeholder partnerships, ITU concluded a Memorandum of Understanding on 11 April 2007 with Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF), a non-governmental organization, to open the door to greater coordination of efforts in this area.

    "Télécoms Sans Frontières is doing excellent work in the field and we look forward to the potential impact of this collaboration," ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré said after the signing the agreement. "TSF has demonstrated how telecommunications can be used to strengthen emergency response efforts and save lives."

    This sentiment was echoed by TSF Founding President, Mr Jean-François Cazenave. He said, "Télécoms Sans Frontières is very proud to collaborate with ITU, and we sincerely hope that this will encourage telecommunication operators to recognize the potential of their products and services to save lives. We welcome them to join us in this common cause."

    For further information, click here or contact:

    Sanjay Acharya
    Chief, Media Relations and Public Information
    Tel: +41 22 730 6135
    E-mail Contact
    Cosmas Zavazava
    Head, Least Developed Countries,
    Small Island Developing States and Emergency Telecommunications
    Tel: + 41 22 730 5447
    E-mail Contact

    TSF Press contact:

    Oisin Walton
    Information and Communications coordinator
    Tel: +33 559 844 360

    About ITU

    About TSF



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