Senator John Kerry's office has just issued a statement on efforts to restore communications in Haiti. Kerry is Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet. He characterized yesterday as the today commented on efforts by "the biggest day in history for mobile phone generated charity."
Kerry's statement also brought new information about Spirit Airlines, which he says is "resuming flights in and out of Haiti on Thursday, January 14."
Here are Senator Kerry's comments:
"Last night at a community meeting on this awful earthquake, I heard story after story of people who can't reach their loved ones back in Haiti. The devastation has made communications service largely inoperable, making it difficult to assess and
respond to the damage efficiently, and it also caused additional anguish for families who can't get in touch with each other. We've got to move rapidly to get this problem addressed. Mobile telephone companies and their foundations, NGO's like
Telecoms sans Frontieres, and satellite companies like Iridium and CapRock Government Services are stepping up to the plate, and there's much more we need to do. As Subcommittee Chairman, I'm in touch with industry leaders to try and
mobilize more resources faster and greatly appreciate their efforts. We will need to help tomorrow, and the day after. Next month and the month after. And far into next year."
Kerry added that, "In the first few days, relief officials will work with satellite telephone service providers to provide as much immediate service as possible. Over the coming days and weeks, relief officials will work with non-governmental organizations to
establish wireless networks and restore communications capacity broadly. Organizations are already on the ground establishing the infrastructure and distributing the devices."
Kerry says that Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF), which Kerry characterizes as "the leading international humanitarian organization specializing in emergency telecommunications" is deploying two emergency telecom teams to Haiti.
"The teams will set up emergency telecom centers using satellite capacity for use by emergency
responders. They will also work on humanitarian calling operations, setting up centers where people impacted by the earthquake get a free two-minute call anywhere in the world to let their family know that they are alive or to try to get the
resources they need."