Beirut explosions: TSF sets up a call center for the disaster victims

Publication date: Aug 19, 2020
Coordination meeting

On Tuesday, August 4, two explosions hit the port of Beirut, Lebanon, killing at least 200 people and injuring more than 5,000. As of August 7, Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) deployed in Beirut in collaboration with the United Nations teams for Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in order to guarantee reliable connectivity in the area affected by the blast.

The impact of the disaster has been considerable on the distribution of humanitarian aid to the 300,000 people living in shelter. Since August 14, parallel to its work with UNDAC, TSF is actively working with the local actors from the NGO Live Lebanon and the consortium of NGOs Beirut Relief Coalition (22 NGOs and 2500 volunteers) to support concrete and immediate actions providing emergency aid to affected populations. TSF has set up a call center to allow disaster victims to report their needs regardless of the field: medical, psychological distress, financial aid, etc.

As soon as this call center designed by TSF was implemented, the requests of a large number of families were taken into account. However, currently these requests can only be submitted via an online form on the website of the NGO Live Lebanon. TSF is testing other innovative solutions to allow the coalition to reach as many people in great difficulty as possible. The objective thus sought is to diversify the communication channels thanks, on the one hand, to an automated system for collecting needs via an Instant Messaging app, and possibly to a free phone number allowing to join a team of volunteers who will receive requests for assistance and mobilize NGO partners. TSF's action is all the more important given that Lebanon is one of the countries where communication costs are very high, preventing many people from purchasing telephone credit or mobile data.

Each request for assistance is handled by a team in charge of answering or returning the calls to beneficiaries, and another team, a support unit composed of specialized personnel, who is responsible for analyzing the requests and distributing them to partner NGOs according to their specialties, capacities and area of intervention.

The Beirut Relief Coalition estimates that thousands of the most precarious families need emergency assistance, which can be delivered more effectively thanks to TSF's technological support. Given the scale of the disaster, our action could last several months.

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