The Vodafone Group Foundation and United Nations Foundation Announce Rapid Response Communications Program

An Initiative To Bring Technology To The Front Lines Of United Nations Emergency Reponse

New York, NY

October 4, 2006


Megan Rabbitt

The United Nations Foundation (UN Foundation) and The Vodafone Group Foundation (VGF), announced today a five-year plan that offers the latest telecommunications technology to support United Nations (UN) emergency response missions worldwide through funding to Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF), a humanitarian NGO equipped to deploy rapid response telecom teams within 48 hours of a disaster anywhere in the world. The UN Foundation and VGF will provide approximately $2 million to TSF over five years making the teams available in coordination with two UN agencies, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“There is an urgent need for food, water, shelter, protection and medical help in emergencies,” said Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF. “None of these things are possible without quick and reliable communications. Rapid communications saves lives.”

“As demonstrated recently in Suriname and Indonesia, this program will provide reliable telecom services so responders can more effectively do their jobs and save lives in the first days of an emergency,” said Jan Egeland, Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs. “This is the kind of successful public-private partnership we need as we confront increasingly challenging emergencies around the world.”

Through the Rapid Response Communications Centre, up to four TSF teams will deploy with the UN to natural disasters and humanitarian crises anywhere in the world. These teams of telecom experts will be among the first to drop into emergency areas and will rapidly establish and maintain emergency telecommunication centers that provide UN, NGO and government responders with reliable voice, Internet, fax, and video connections using satellite, WiFi, and GSM equipment. Relief workers rely on these centers for response and relief assessment, logistics, and coordination.

“Vodafone is committed to changing lives in communities across the world,” said Andrew Dunnett, Director of the Vodafone Group Foundation. “The partnership with UNF and TSF enables us to share our charitable funds, our expertise and our technology. We look forward to its transforming effect and the tangible benefits it will bring to some of the most needy and desperate situations on earth”.

“This collaboration is a perfect example of how the United Nations Foundation can foster public-private partnerships that pair valuable resources, knowledge, and experience of organizations with the lifesaving work of the UN,” said UN Foundation President Timothy E. Wirth. “This initiative offers the UN the ability to respond quickly to humanitarian needs in a smart, cost-effective way.”

“We are pleased to be a part of this partnership to continue our work with the UN,” said Jean-François Cazenave,” Co-founder and President of TSF. “Today, new technologies, the miniaturization of components and the increasing development of satellite networks enable highly mobile teams to respond to emergency communication needs in all circumstances, anywhere in the world.”

VGF-UNF funded teams have already deployed four times to assist the UN in 2006. First, the UN deployed TSF in May to support a response mission after torrential flooding in Suriname. Second, the UN deployed TSF teams to Indonesia in June in response to a massive 6.2 earthquake. Third, the UN deployed TSF in August to support the UN humanitarian mission under the UN’s Emergency Telecom Cluster in Lebanon. Finally, the UN deployed TSF again in August to reestablish telecom services to support the UN humanitarian mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo following the disarmament that allowed humanitarian assistance to resume and the displaced population to return to their homes.


The UN Foundation was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation builds and implements public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and also works to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. The UN Foundation is a public charity.

The Vodafone Group Foundation was created by Vodafone in 2001 to support charitable and community work by all Vodafone companies and their Foundations, as well as funding selected charitable global initiatives directly. It is a charitable Foundation with its own board of trustees. To date, the Foundations have invested a total of over GBP 60 million in social investments globally.

For more information about:
Télécoms Sans Frontières, visit
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, visit
The UN Children’s Fund, visit