If You Think Providing Humanitarian Relief is Tough…

…try providing the telecommunications infrastructure on which these humanitarian relief organizations rely, under the imperative of immediate deployment, and all while facing the same privations, complications, and dangers of operating in a conflict zone.

Here at UN Dispatch, we’ve provided consistent coverage of the violence and displacement stemming from conflicts in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. We’ve also from time to time featured the under-heralded work of Telecoms sans Frontieres (TSF), the bold organization that fills the gaping telecommunications hole in societies, like many in eastern Congo, scrambling to recuperate from violent conflict.

The resources that TSF provides for displaced persons — an ability to talk with worried family members, to communicate their location and maintain contact — are as uplifting as the food, water, and shelter provided by other humanitarian organizations. What’s more, though, is that these aid workers themselves rely on the technology that TSF rapidly deploys. And as this email from a TSF employee makes clear, the mandate to fulfill these crucial tasks does not free them from the harsh conditions under which humanitarian organizations must operate in places like eastern Congo:

In the Haut-Uélé [a district in northeastern Congo, on the Sudanese border, where TSF is deployed] alone, there are 135,000 displaced which are regularly facing LRA rebel attacks. In Dungu [TSF headquarters in the region], there are no landlines and the only GSM operator available in the area is not reliable due to regular power failure. There is no electricity so all aid agencies rely on generators. The working conditions are really tough. There is little food including for those working to help the population due to limited supplies linked to the security conditions.

Another photo below the jump, and check out this neat “humanitarian snapshot” of eastern DR Congo.