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 Friday, 14 July 2006

Stepping up its efforts for disaster mitigation and relief, the United Nations today announced an agreement with the Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company to provide portable satellite terminals, a major factor in rescue operations.

“The tsunami that wreaked havoc in south East Asia, the Kashmir earthquake, the Suriname floods, and the Indonesia earthquake have demonstrated the power of emergency telecommunications in saving lives and coordinating efforts during rescue operations such as the setting up of telemedicine links,” said Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which concluded the accord.

Thuraya, the United Arab Emirates satellite-based company, is contributing handheld satellite terminals along with solar chargers, while ITU will pay for airtime at discounted rates offered by Thuraya and cover 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 recent natural disasters, the World Telecommunication Development Conference meeting in Doha in March called upon ITU to develop solutions in emergency telecommunications directed at improving early-warning communication, disaster preparedness and mitigation.

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