Read about TSF's mission in LIBYA

TSF on the ground in Libya (February 23rd – November 20th)


2011 started off with the Arab Spring and the domino effect of toppling totalitarian regimes. Citizens from Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, and Libya rose up. Some, like Egypt and Tunisia, undertook radical change immediately. Others underwent a prolonged conflict, for example in Libya.


In the nine months since the beginning of the Libyan uprising, TSF has been present on the ground, providing emergency telecommunications connections to affected populations and the NGOs working to help them.


In the early months, TSF concentrated its efforts on assisting the thousands of refugees pouring over the border. Since February 15th, more than 500,000 people have fled Libya to take refuge in neighbouring countries, notably Tunisia and Egypt. Another 60,000 people have fled towards Sudan, Chad, Niger and Algeria.

A TSF team first deployed to the Chucha transit camp, on the Tunisian-Libyan border, to provide free international calls for the benefit of the refugee population, and establish internet connections in order to support relief workers.


Last April, the teams entered Benghazi, Libya, followed by Misrata in June. The TSF team arrived in the Djebel Nafusa region on 25th August and in the Sirte region on 13th October. TSF opened its seventh international NGO Hub in Sirte. As of 14th November, humanitarian needs were still enormous at all levels, from medical supplies to telecom infrastructures: there was still no electricity, water or telecommunications in the town.


To ensure better humanitarian coordination, TSF established mobile and fixed satellite connections (using BGANs and VSATs). These connections were established for the use of the entire humanitarian community: teams from the IOM (International Organisation for Migration), the UN agencies (including the HCR- High Commission for UN refugees), the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross), the Libyan Red Crescent, local and international NGOs (including medical NGOs), the local authorities and the medical teams.


As well as setting up internet connections and high-speed satellite lines, TSF teams also provided technical and telecommunications support to humanitarian workers, repairing and setting up their telecom and computer equipment (BGANs, routers, printers, laptops, etc.) when requested.


Our teams left Libya on 20th November, conducting the handover to international NGOs with OCHA (the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs). TSF provided telecoms solutions to relief agencies for emergency communications and evaluations.



- Tunisia-Libya border: February 24th – May 13th
TSF conducted humanitarian calling operations at the entrance to the transit camp over a period of over 80 days.
Between 26th February and 25th March, TSF also helped support relief efforts on the border. TSF set up internet connections using broadband satellite equipment (BGANs) and networking devices at the Ras Ejdir border post and at Chucha transitional camp, and by providing IT support for relief workers who needed assistance. Access points were used by ICRC, UNHCR, IOM, Tunisian doctors and the Tunisian army medical service.


7 March TSF Tunisia-Libya Transit camp 2-400

28 Feb TSF Tunisia-Libya Transit camp 40028 Feb TSF Tunisia-Libya Transit camp

- Libya: April 13th – November 20th

Non exhaustive list of organisations supported by TSF: ACTED, CESVI, LAT, LIBAID (Libyan Agency For Relief & Humanitarian Assistance), ICRC, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, IRD, JMACT (Joint Mine Action Coordination Team), DCA, ACF, IOM, MAG (Mines Advisory Group), IMC (International Medical Corps), LRC (Libyan Red Crescent), Doctors Without Borders, medical NGOs, medical personnel, Merlin, Handicap International, etc.


Benghazi: The TSF teams entered Benghazi, on 13th April 2011. Some 2,400 migrant workers and Libyan civilians fled Misrata, in the grip of bloody fighting, travelling to Benghazi on IOM-chartered boats. On 17th April, TSF participated in a joint operation with ICRC to provide international satellite phone calls to refugees in transit at the LRC camp in Benghazi.


Following this, in collaboration with the NGO ACTED and the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO), the TSF team created a humanitarian NGO Hub providing broadband satellite connections (VSAT) and IT equipment to humanitarian workers in the area. The connection has been active since 20th April.


Misrata: The team arrived in Misrata on 20th June. The international NGO Hub opened by TSF on 22nd June 2011(using VSAT) in collaboration with the NGOs ACTED, Mercy Corps and Cesvi is a vital asset for international NGOs working in the area.
From 26th to 28th June, TSF participated in a joint operation with LRC to provide international phone calls to the medical centres of Misrata.


Jadu: Upon their arrival in the Djebel Nafusa region on 25th August, TSF installed a mobile satellite connection (using BGAN) in the hospital at Jadu, designed to be used by hospital personnel and medical NGOs on site, including the NGO IMC. TSF reinforced the connection by setting up a VSAT terminal on 6th September. This is the most important hospital in the region. TSF’s assistance was sought by the medical establishment for the opening of this Broadband connection.


Yefren: On 25th August, TSF established a fixed satellite connection (VSAT) in the hospital at Yefren. The connection benefited personnel of the establishment and was also available to medical NGOs, including Doctors Without Borders. Similarly, the town “media centre” was connected to the VSAT.


Nalut: TSF has installed a fixed connection (using KA-SAT) in the Libyan Red Cross offices in Nalut; a connection established for the use of the humanitarian community as a whole.


Sirte: TSF has opened its seventh international NGO Hub in Sirte, in collaboration with the NGOs ACTED, Mercy Corps and IMC.


The role of TSF is also, when requested, to place telecom and satellite materials at the disposal of aid workers. TSF has also supplied three Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro handsets for various relief agencies to communicate more efficiently with other emergency responders from different cities in Libya.


TSF Nalut-IsatPhone for Red Crescent

TSF Sirte Oct20113-400TSF Sirte Oct20111-400


At the beginning of 2012, TSF connections are still operational in Nalut.
The centres in Jadu and Yefren have been closed and operations have been handed over to ACTED in Misrata, Benghazi, and Sirte.


TSF connection Nalut 2

TSF connection

TSF connection in Sirte


Libyan border: 30,500 lives reconnected during humanitarian calling operations


At the outbreak of the conflict in Libya, TSF provided support for refugees fleeing the country, enabling 30,550 families to make a total of 40,348 humanitarian calls to 115 different destinations worldwide (using satellite phones “IsatPhone Pro”) from La Chucha transit camp in Tunisia. This action represents 84,378 minutes offered to 40 different national populations.

In Benghazi and Misrata, TSF enabled medical teams and displaced civilians to make a total of 538 humanitarian calls.


10 March TSF Tunisia-Libya Transit camp 4-400

10 March TSF Tunisia-Libya Transit camp 2-40027 Feb TSF Tunisia-Libya Transit camp 6

Our specialists help people in need of help and in urgent need of making a call… The call service TSF offers is a real life-line, offering a sense of normality and connection in the midst of the chaos of adversity.

For the people of Libya, this year was a time of great upheaval and change. In times like these, staying in touch with loves ones can be an invaluable source of comfort. Those priority calls enable them to reassure their loved ones who have been left without any news, and above all to receive personalised assistance. Beyond the psychological support provided, TSF's role was also to find concrete solutions for displaced families.


TSF set up base in the most convenient location for the people they were trying to help: the entrance to the Chucha camp, providing shelter for thousands of displaced people. For eighty uninterrupted days people queued up to make a call home using a Télécoms Sans Frontières phone line.


Our team in Libya witnessed events…


"We enabled a group of refugees from Ghana to call their families to tell them that they were still alive. But every day they remained in close vicinity to the TSF sat phones. There is no immediate solution for them. There is no Ghanaian Consulate in Tunis. We thus decided to contact the Consulate in Algeria. Following this phone call, the Consulate reassured the Ghanaian refugees that they would receive official assistance, which they did. Specifically, on March 1st, the Representative of the Consul himself came to the transit camp to repatriate his fellow-countrymen." says Florian Vichot, member of TSF team.


"Masi and Mohamed are from Bamako in Mali; they arrived on the evening of 25th February at the border post. Thanks to TSF, they were able to call the Malian Embassy in Tunis who reassured them that they would receive official assistance." says Allan Sebastian, member of the TSF team.


“Almost one hundred inhabitants of Niger, some without documents, had received no news from their government and no information on when they would be able to return to Niger. They designated spokespersons who came to request help in trying to reach a Nigerian embassy somewhere. We called the Niger embassy of France and finally managed to obtain the personal number of the Niger ambassador in Algeria, who contacted IOM to organise the repatriation of his fellow countrymen. A few days later, before getting onto the bus that would take them to the airport, some of them came to say goodbye and to thank us warmly.” Mr Sebastian remembers.


“Right now, we can’t be in Bangladesh,” said Nienn. “But talking to my parents by phone eases the wait.” When violence broke out in the western Libyan town of Zawiyah, Bangladeshi migrant worker Mohammed Nienn, 28, was doing a shift as a steelworker. Keen to leave as quickly as possible, he jumped into a taxi with four other Bangladeshis and headed for the Tunisian border, where a bus eventually took him to Chucha transit camp, 6km from the frontier town of Ras Ejdir. Ten days later, he was still there, waiting for a flight to Dhaka. “My family tells me to get home as quickly as possible,” he told IRIN. “But it’s not as simple as that. There are so many Bangladeshis here. The wait to go to the airport is quite long.” Source of this last testimony: - 14 March 2011

Impact of TSF’s support on disaster relief work


Télécoms Sans Frontières specialists were deployed to several locations in Libya this year following the ongoing conflict in the country. As soon as they arrived in Libya, they began setting up internet connections ― a vital resource in the recovery efforts - and installed telecoms centres. These centres provide broadband Internet access, voice communications, fax lines and all the IT equipment required by humanitarian organisations. The following stories and testimonials speak volumes…


25 August 2011-Jadu 4-400For Doctor Isam Athanis, Medical Coordinator at the hospital in Jadu, TSF connections have improved the exchange of information and the work of the medical teams. "We spent 6 months without internet connection. Thanks to TSF, the internet connection at the hospital in Jadu allows us to contact Tripoli to get supplies and ask advice from other doctors in England. It really is a relief for all the doctors here to be connected and able to ask for help if needed. I would like to thank you so much for the great donation you have made to Jadu hospital. You cannot imagine how it helps us. Communication is a critical point during a crisis. TSF was the only organisation present to solve our communication issues at Jadu hospital.”


For Doctor Walid, the TSF connection has radically changed the situation: “Before its opening, the nearest Internet connection was located in Tripoli. I can now send emails or use skype to discuss patients with other cities in Libya. As well as this, I’m using the connection to send medical samples and pictures to other countries, such as England and Italy, and thus have the opinion of world specialists.”


Doctor Reyad Ali Zekri is planning to open a website for Jadu hospital to organise the help. “I'm currently using a Facebook group that I've created. With internet at the hospital, it makes my work faster: I can order supplies by email which is more reliable and easier to follow than GSM international calls."


"TSF helps doctors to work and treat patients. With TSF services, we are able to send medical pictures and reports on our patients to other hospitals and other doctors in the country and abroad. TSF reinforces management and coordination. No other organisation or company has provided this service. I’m very grateful, thank you.” says Doctor Omar Suliman Omar, Jadu Hospital.


The support TSF provides is crucial as Emma, working for the NGO IMC in Zintan, confirms: “In an hour you fixed our internet connection in the office. Thanks TSF for your help; it will save us a lot of time in helping people."


"TSF has helped us very much. They have enabled us to use the internet and communicate with the outside world. They have facilitated our work a lot. The strongest point of TSF is their ability to be everywhere in the world and to arrive very quickly to ease our daily workload." says Kamel Bouchouicha, Team Leader, IMC, Jadu.


"The TSF connection is extremely important for me because I am sure that it is free from security issues and I can thus use it to send sensitive information such as internal contracts or have skype conversations with HQ." says Sonal Shinde, Head of Office, Mercy Corps, Misrata.


Paul Boncz, from the organisation JMACT in Misrata says: "TSF, thanks for your support! The Internet is up and running 24/7".


Rikke Gomesen, working at Save The Children, comments: "The HUB in Misrata is very good, good Internet access, good services. No complaints".


"TSF connection facilitates the coordination as it enabled me to send emails to my teams and contacts within Libya. Also, I can communicate with CESVI’s HQ easily and send them my reports." says Melissa Zorzi, Project Coordinator, CESVI, Libya.


TSF’s connections promote and support the local culture and identity. At Yefren media centre, the local press now can publish a local newspaper on the town’s local activities and associations, as Akram B-Ashour, a volunteer at Yefren’s media centre, describes: "Before the revolution we were not allowed to speak Tamazight. Now, thanks to TSF we can promote our culture again. We are now working on the first global meeting for Tamazight's culture in Libya's history."


20082011136-400 website

TSF 5 july-NGO hub in Misrata 1-400website25 August 2011-Jadu 2-crop-400