Humanitarian Connectivity Charter Gains New Support

The GSMA has announced three new signatories to the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter at Mobile World Congress 2016.

Operators Telefonica, Zain and Millicom each signed the Charter. They join seven other signatories who are all committed to the Charter principles: Axiata Group, Ooredoo Group, Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, Etisalat, Roshan, and Ericsson.

The GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter was launched at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona. It provides a common set of principles for the mobile industry, aimed at supporting access to communications with the aim of reducing loss of life and positively contributing to humanitarian response. The Humanitarian Connectivity Charter is intended to create a more coordinated and predictable response to disasters.

The Charter is an industry-wide initiative which demonstrates the commitment of the mobile industry to supporting customers and responders before and during humanitarian emergencies. The signing of these new operators further emphasises the mobile industry’s awareness of its role in providing humanitarian connectivity in times of crisis.

The launch of the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter reflects the growing recognition within the mobile industry and among government and responding stakeholders of the crucial role that mobile connectivity plays during humanitarian crises. Mobile devices are often one of the first things people reach for when disaster strikes.

The Charter is supported by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the UN Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). It was created following two years of industry workshops and collaboration facilitated by the GSMA Disaster Response program, in association with UN agencies, mobile operators, vendors and non-government organizations (NGOs).

Over the last decade, 1.8 billion people have been affected by disasters around the world. The challenges posed by these crises are too large for any single entity to address individually and the Charter provides a vehicle for driving collaboration and partnership both within the industry and with external partners. In this context, ensuring preparedness and resiliency is critical from both a sustainability and business perspective.

All three new Charter signatories have strong track records of humanitarian engagement. In 2013 Tigo Guatemala, a Millicom company, formed a partnership with Oxfam to enable the distribution of humanitarian cash transfers to families affected by child malnutrition and drought. Similar programmes have been run by Tigo in Chad with Action Contre le Faim and in Honduras with the World Food Programme to help communities with special needs.

Commenting on becoming a Charter signatory, Zain Group CEO Scott Gegenheimer remarked, “Zain has and shall continue to work rigorously to improve the conditions of people in distressed or unfortunate situations. However, throughout history has been made abundantly clear that the pooling of efforts and resources often achieves more positive results than what can be done individually, and we are thus looking forward to contributing our efforts and resources under the Charter.”

Eduardo Puig de la Bellacasa Aznar, Director of Corporate Stakeholder Engagement & Corporate Reporting at Telefonica said: “The GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter aligns directly with Telefonica’s corporate social commitments to respond to humanitarian needs during crisis situations. Telefonica is actively engaged in the response to emergency crisis in natural disasters and the refugee crisis. In collaboration with our partners, the GSMA and other Charter signatories, Telefonica is committed to finding and implementing communications based solutions which will help refugees to support themselves economically and better integrate into societies over the long term.”

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