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 Monday, 25 June 2007

GENEVA, June 22, 2007 - Satnews Daily - The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has reached an agreement with ICO Global Communications and the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) to utilize satellite communications for improved global response in the face of natural disasters.

Natural calamities have spread mayhem around the world, severely impacting the lives of people and the environment. In 2006 alone, 21,800 people succumbed to natural disasters, with 95 per cent of those killed residing in least developed countries. These calamities inflicted economic damage estimated at $65 billion worldwide.

ICO Global Communications will provide airtime on their F2 satellite for disaster prevention and effective response in the aftermath of natural disasters through both voice communications and other telecommunication applications, including telemedicine. An hourís airtime will be provided every day for use through ITU to help countries maintain preparedness, provide early-warning information and elicit quick response. In the event of a disaster, this time will be adjusted according to demand to facilitate rescue and rehabilitation efforts.

"The partnership that we have established with ICO Global Communications and the Commonwealth Business Council is an important milestone towards ITUís effort to save human life," said Dr Hamadoun Tourť, Secretary-general of ITU. "Satellite communication provides a platform to deliver a wide range of services and applications even to remote areas. In the digital age, we are able to provide an ICT lifeline to disaster victims and humanitarian personnel entrusted with coordinating rescue and relief operations, especially when terrestrial communications infrastructure is disrupted, overloaded or destroyed."

While ITU will manage and coordinate emergency telecommunications, CBC will provide content and manage the entrepreneurial skill development program.

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