Peru: UN agency provides emergency telecommunications devices after quake
The 50 “plug and play” terminals, which are portable devices the size of a small suitcase, allow users to make calls to telephones, access the Internet and provide other voice, data and video services, such as telemedicine.
The Geneva-based International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said in a statement released today that the terminals are being deployed to areas where telecommunications were severed because of the damage caused by the quake. Rescue operations in Peru have been hampered by the often mountainous terrain.
“We take very seriously the role of telecommunications in mitigating disasters,” Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau.
“Whenever a country is affected by a disaster, we quickly mobilize and dispatch transportable telecommunications resources that can be used for general communications by government authorities and to provide e-services such as telemedicine that are crucial for saving human lives,” he added, voicing hope that the contribution would help Peru cope with the recent massive earthquake.
So far, the ITU has allocated more than $500,000 to cover the costs of deploying the terminals and paying for their use, but officials said this figure may rise.
Cosmas Zavazava, head of the Emergency Telecommunications Division of the ITU, told the UN News Service that the agency is planning to launch in December a framework for cooperation in emergencies that will include a fund to pay for the deployment and use of equipment.
The 15 August quake, which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale and struck 161 kilometres south of the capital, Lima, has resulted in the death of over 500 people and injured more than 1,000 others, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In addition, preliminary assessments indicate that over 37,000 houses and four hospitals were destroyed, while 16 hospitals were damaged.