Spanish satellite operator HISPASAT, and other members of the satellite community have signed contribution agreements with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), on behalf of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), stepping up their commitment to support global disaster relief. These contribution agreements are the final steps in operationalizing the Crisis Connectivity Charter signed in 2015 between the EMEA Satellite Operators Association (ESOA), the Global VSAT Forum (GVF), the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (OCHA) and the ETC. The Crisis Connectivity Charter signed by Arabsat, Eutelsat, Global Eagle, Hispasat, Inmarsat, Intelsat, SES, Thuraya and Yahsat, will help the humanitarian community by greatly enhancing their access to vital satellite-based communications when local networks are affected, destroyed or overloaded following disasters.
Under the contribution agreements, the Charter Signatories are now committing satellite equipment and capacity that will be dedicated for humanitarian purposes during emergency responses. The ETC, under the global leadership of WFP, will be able to activate the Charter when disaster strikes and identify which pre-planned solutions are immediately available for any given region and need in order to meet a 24-hour deployment timeline after a crisis.
With the increasing number of protracted, complex emergencies and high demand for bandwidth, the commitments from the global satellite industry are timely and will be critical assets for the humanitarian community. The satellite industry’s contributions will enable Internet access during emergencies to support humanitarian operations including logistics, urgent medical care, food delivery and the coordination of relief efforts.
“At HISPASAT we are concerned about our commitment to society and we are always ready to collaborate in emergency situations, as we did after Katrina, Irma and Maria hurricanes, the Haiti earthquake or the forest fires that swept Galicia last year”, stated Carlos Espinós, CEO of the operator. “In these cases, telecommunications are essential and satellites can make them available to first responders and communities affected by disasters. In this way, we help those affected to communicate with their families and facilitating the coordination of rescue teams so that the region can begin to recover from the catastrophe. For HISPASAT it is an honor to collaborate with the UN in these critical operations.”
Since signing the Charter, satellite operators have been active on all continents supporting WFP, governments and NGOs during Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and in Haiti, Nepal and Vanuatu to name just a few. Via satellite they have enabled VOIP, WiFi and Internet Access to support supply logistics, urgent medical care and coordination of relief efforts. The Charter Signatories have also provided training and capacity building for WFP and ETC partners’ field-staff on the installation and use of the satellite equipment to be deployed. Satellite equipment donated will be stored in humanitarian depots located on three continents while pre-allocated bandwidth will cover all regions of the globe.
In the coming weeks, HISPASAT will send 10 satellite terminals with all their equipment to the UN depots in Panama, from where they would move to any Latin American country for its use to restore the communications during emergency responses through the Spanish satellite operator fleet.