Democratic Republic of Congo

On 30 August 2017, UNICEF requested the support of for their operations in the Kasai region in DRC.

Decades of armed conflict in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), political unrest and insecurity have resulted in a complex humanitarian crisis. Since April 2016, the conflict in the Kasai region of DRC has been escalating, causing widespread displacements and the loss of livelihoods. An estimated 762,000 people are internally displaced and, due to the conflict in Kasai, 33,500 people have fled to neighboring Angola and Zambia as refugees. In addition, 2 million people are internally displaced in the Kivus and Tanganyika regions.

One regular deployment kit has been deployed in the Tshikapa office providing connectivity to UNICEF, OCHA and FAO.

The system was installed by trained UNICEF staff.

Niger Refugee Crisis

In support of the Refugee Emergency Telecommunications Sector (RETS) led by UNHCR in Niger, the Governement of Luxembourg deployed one kit in Diffa, supporting UNHCR and its partners.

Article by Mariko Hall, UNHCR
Originally published on

Remote, dusty, dangerous - the border region of Diffa hosts over 106,000 Nigerian refugees and more than 127,000 internally displaced people forced to flee Boko Haram’s terror. Located a two-day drive from the capital Niamey, humanitarian organisations in Diffa face seemingly insurmountable challenges, from insecurity and remoteness to lack of funding. At least now, lack of connectivity is no longer on this list of challenges.

In an area where internet is sometimes frustratingly slow, but most often completely non-existent, the UNHCR-led Refugee Emergency Telecommunications Sector (RETS) has deployed the Government of Luxembourg’s ‘’ solution, providing reliable connectivity to implementing partners Action Pour Le Bien Etre (APBE), Karkara, and Secours Des Oubliés (SDO).

“Connectivity allows us to better design and implement programs that will help improve protection and assistance of individuals,” says Abdouraouf Gnon-Konde, Deputy Representative, UNHCR Niger. “Internet improves the way UNHCR and partners work together for people of concern.”

The population of Diffa has almost doubled since 2015, as people flee violence, forced recruitment and suicide bombings. In an area that already suffers from chronic poverty, harsh climate, recurrent epidemics, poor infrastructure and limited access to basic services, the influx continues to stretch already scarce resources.

Emergency Telecommunications for Refugee Response

Within the framework of the Refugee Coordination Model, RETS provides vital internet connectivity and security communications services to UNHCR, its partners and the extended humanitarian community in emergencies. The deployment in Diffa is the first of such where services are being provided for partners, through partners.

“As ICT, it’s our role to ensure people responding to the needs of refugees have the technology tools available to efficiently, effectively and safely carry out their work,” says Doug Greene, Chief Information Officer and Director of Division of Information Systems and Telecommunications (DIST), UNHCR. “Across Africa alone, UNHCR is responding to the needs of over four and a half million refugees and in each and every one of these situations, communications technology is critical.

The deployment in Diffa is the first where we have been able to quite literally link partners who support us with services, and partners who support the lives of displaced people and refugees.”

Connecting Sites, Bridging Gaps

The solution has been installed in UNHCR’s Diffa office, and wirelessly linked to the offices of partners to provide connectivity to these sites, including Sayam Forage refugee camp.

“The most challenging part was the link to Sayam Forage,” says Fardy Mandy, West Africa Senior Regional ICT Officer, UNHCR. “The straight line distance is 36km, so we needed long-distance microwave antennas which look like two giant balls. We had one of us at the office, and another at Sayam Forage, carefully pointing the balls to each other to establish the connection.”

“Connectivity is a medium to bridge the gap,” says Abdouraouf. We have a detailed learning programme in Diffa to help kids who came from Nigeria maintain access to the Nigerian curriculum.”

At the end of the 2017 academic year, groups of junior and senior secondary school refugee students temporarily returned to Nigeria to complete their exams. In partnership with Italian non-governmental organisation COOPI, UNHCR is finalising an action plan for Nigeria National Examination Council accreditation of two distance examination centres in Diffa.

“Now we have internet, all these things will improve,” says Abdouraouf. “We can use the internet to support better education for children in the camp.”

Supporting Safety & Security

Communications technology enables better and faster humanitarian assistance and protection, as well as supports safety and security in the world’s most challenging and remote environments.

Diffa has suffered a number of Boko Haram attacks in recent years. In June, two female suicide bombers entered the internally displaced people camp of Kablewa and detonated the bombs they were carrying, killing themselves, as well as two others, and injuring 11 more.

“The same internet link we connected also supports security communications,” says Fardy. “Through the internet we can connect the two-way VHF radio so that someone in Sayam Forage can speak to someone in Diffa.”

RETS connectivity services in Diffa are being used by 30 partner staff. Equipment and services are being provided at no-cost to UNHCR, for use by its partners, by the Government of Luxembourg for an initial period of 6 months.

The next step for the project is to extend connectivity services to the new office being built for UNHCR’s Government of Niger counterparts.

“The way that protection was before, registration was before, security access was before, education was before, partners working together with UNHCR and refugees themselves – all of this has changed,” says Abdouraouf. “Connectivity changes the way we communicate and operate.”




Supporting the Nigerian crisis

At WFP's request, in February 2017, the Government of Luxembourg deployed one regular deployment kit to Maiduguri, providing internet services to the humanitarian community in the IHP base camp.

Since the start of the violent conflict in North-Eastern Nigeria in 2009, there  are an estimated 1.8 million people displaced and a further 200,000 seeking  refuge in the neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Seven  million people are currently in need of life-saving assistance in the three  worst-affected states in the north-east: Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

The Emergency Telecommunications Sector (ETS) was officially activated in  Nigeria on 23 November 2016. As global lead of the ETC, the World Food  Programme (WFP) is coordinating the ETS in Nigeria, responding with  government, private sector and humanitarian organisations to ensure a  coordinated response.

Internet connectivity services from local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are often not reliable or available in newly accessible areas in North-East Nigeria. This is hindering the humanitarian response on the ground.

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