How it all started
The idea for Télécoms Sans Frontières was the result of a simple observation made after many years of experience with general humanitarian charities, based on listening to those in need. During missions responding to the crisis in the Balkans and in Kurdistan during the 1st Gulf War, TSF’s founders realised that, in addition to medical and food aid, there was a critical need for reliable emergency telecommunications services. Conflicts and emergencies often led to massive civilian displacement and separated families. And affected populations are often left with no communications infrastructure in place to find assistance and loved ones.

TSF2008_Pakistan_earthquakeWaam03During early missions, TSF’s founders were often approached by refugees with scraps of paper asking them, for example: “When you go home, please call my family at this number, tell them I’m alive, uncle has been killed but I’m alive and I’m at the refugee camp in Stenkovec.” To address the need for communications services, TSF bought its first satellite phone and the organisation was born. Since this time, on every TSF mission we have offered a 3-minute call to any affected family.
TSF soon found that the international response teams that deploy to emergencies also had a critical need for reliable telecommunications services in the first days after an emergency. TSF therefore expanded its operations, improved its technology, and began to establish rapidly deployable emergency telecommunications centres to serve UN, government, and NGO humanitarian workers, and developed a reputation for being among the first to arrive after disasters.