UNHCR Becomes Latest Supporter of the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter,
Joining 108 Mobile Operators and Six Humanitarian and Technical Partners
Barcelona: The GSMA today launched the first Humanitarian Connectivity Charter Annual Report, highlighting efforts by mobile network operator (MNO) signatories to support disaster preparedness and response activities around the world during 2016. This annual report maps the progress made under the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter, capturing global efforts to address humanitarian emergencies ranging from the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe to reducing the impact of natural disasters. It highlights the critical role of the mobile industry in supporting resilience and serves as a baseline against which to measure progress in the coming years. The GSMA also announced a new humanitarian supporter of the Charter, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which joins 108 MNO members and six endorsing humanitarian and technical partners, with the potential to reach more than 1.3 billion people.
“We launched the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter two years ago and since that time, mobile has played an important role in how the global community responds to crises, facilitating advancements in early warning systems, reuniting loved ones, and connecting affected populations to information and assistance,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. “The Charter has been an important platform for supporting our industry’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, whether addressing natural disasters or the effects of war and conflict. We thank the many organisations supporting the Charter over the past two years and look forward to expanding its impact in the years to come.”
The Charter, launched by the GSMA at Mobile World Congress 2015, leverages mobile connectivity to improve access to communication and information for those affected by crisis, reduce the loss of life, and positively contribute to humanitarian response. The increase in displaced communities and sudden onset of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and floods, continue to impact communities globally. Innovation by Charter signatories demonstrates how mobile can play a role in mitigation, early warning, response and recovery, and the newly published report highlights some of the actions undertaken by signatories:
MNOs have worked with the wider ecosystem to provide support to displaced communities. In 2016, Turkcell launched an app called Merhaba Umut (‘Hello Hope’) to help facilitate the integration of Syrian refugees living in Turkey, while Asiacell (Ooredoo Group) worked with Ericsson to implement ‘Connect to Learn’ programmes for children in refugee camps in Iraq, providing ICTs and connectivity to schools to enhance learning. In June 2016, Zain partnered with the MIT Enterprise Forum1 to launch the ‘Innovate for Refugees’ Initiative, a competition intended to promote innovative entrepreneurial businesses, providing tech-driven solutions that cater to the needs of refugees.
Following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador on 16 April 2016, Movistar Ecuador (Telefónica Group) mobilised 190 technicians and sent out 40 vehicles equipped with satellite phones, enabling more than 82,000 people to call relatives and friends. In addition, MNOs Claro, CNT and Movistar Ecuador provided free voice minutes and SMS to customers in affected areas. After the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes in Japan, NTT DOCOMO provided free Wi-Fi service, constructed an emergency IP network and deployed ‘base stations on wheels’ to restore network coverage. During the period of earthquake activity, Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued 19 earthquake early warning alerts and it is estimated that over 1 million customers received these messages from their operator.
Customers of Ncell (Axiata Group) living in areas at high risk of floods and landslides in Nepal are now receiving early warning alerts thanks to an innovative partnership between Ncell and the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), implemented in July 2016. SMS alerts are sent when water levels are dangerously high or when severe weather conditions are forecast, enabling citizens to take necessary precautions.
In recognition that partnerships are essential to meet the growing humanitarian needs globally, in addition to the MNO signatories, the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter is supported by a number of organisations and agencies. Key supporting organisations include the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the UN Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC), the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Ericsson and Nokia are technical partners of the Charter.
A full copy of the report is available at: www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/programme/disaster-response/hcc-annual-report and further detail on the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter is available at: www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/programmes/disaster-response/humanitarian-connectivity-charter.
About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with almost 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress Shanghai, Mobile World Congress Americas and the Mobile 360 Series of conferences.
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