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Telecoms Sans Frontiere is an organisation that provides a vital service to locals and charities to aid communication during humanitarian crises.

I heard a snippet on the radio the other day about TSF and was amazed at the speed with which the volunteers managed to get to disaster zones and the competence with which they attempted to link communities. It’s not just about enabling aid workers to do a better job and journalists to spread the word, but crucially giving refugees and people displaced by natural disasters the means to make a telephone call to tell loved ones if they are safe and whether they need anything.

Jean-Francois Cazenave, founding president of TSF says that this ‘can be as important as giving out food and medical help’.

In every refugee camp we have visited, victims come in with a telephone number on a scrap of paper which they have stored for safe keeping in their shoe. Often these people have lost everything and all they want – more than food or water – is to inform their relatives that they are okay, and that they are now in a refugee camp, the children have survived and if anyone of the family has been lost.

I vividly recall the day of the London bombings, my first thought being to contact my sons, both of whom regularly travelled to the area around Kings Cross. One was still abed; the other had, as was his custom, cycled to the British Library; both knew nothing until my frantic call. How glad I was of the facility to put my mind at rest so easily. And how grateful the families of people involved in disasters must be to such organisations as TSF.

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