The International Telecommunication Union and Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company have concluded an agreement to provide portable satellite terminals to assist countries in disaster mitigation and relief.
Thuraya, the United Arab Emirates satellite-based company, is contributing handheld satellite terminals along with solar chargers; ITU will pay for airtime at discounted rates offered by Thuraya and cover the transportation costs of telecommunications equipment to and from disaster-hit areas. ITU will also provide its expertise in technical and operational training for government officials involved in rescue missions.
In the light of a spate of natural disasters and calamities in recent times, the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-06) meeting in Doha in March 2006 called upon ITU to develop ICT-based solutions in emergency telecommunications directed at improving early-warning communication, disaster preparedness and mitigation. This is a critical area of concern especially for countries with fragile economies and special needs, such as least developed countries and small island developing states.
More information on Relief Web, Switzerland at http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/KHII-6RL3EN?OpenDocument