EU facilitates coordinated steps by telecom operators to help refugees stay connected
- Telecom operators based in the EU and in Ukraine have signed a joint statement on their coordinated efforts to secure and stabilise affordable or free roaming and international calls between the EU and Ukraine
- The European Commission and the European Parliament have facilitated this joint statement and welcome its signature by 27 operators, with more joining, in the EU and Ukraine, including several EU-wide groups, and the association representing several mobile virtual network operators (MVNO Europe).
- After a number of spontaneous voluntary initiatives took place, the joint statement aims to establish a more stable framework to help Ukrainians displaced throughout Europe to stay in touch with family and friends back home.
- The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has disrupted the lives of millions of Ukrainians. An estimated 4.2 million refugees have fled to neighbouring countries, in particular to Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, from where they are progressively moving to other Member States. In the face of this immediate and growing humanitarian crisis, it is essential that Ukrainian refugees have access to affordable connectivity, so that they can stay in touch with their family and friends and that they can use the Internet and have access to reliable information.
- The initiative of several telecom operators to waive or reduce international call charges with Ukraine and roaming surcharges for displaced people in Europe is therefore very welcome, and should be put on a broader and sustainable footing.
- Some EU operators have also enabled free roaming and provided free WiFi and charging in border areas or shelters. In parallel, Ukrainian operators, who keep the connectivity within Ukraine and with Ukraine functioning despite military aggression, have from the early days of this crisis ensured national roaming within the country and offered free international roaming to refugees who fled the war.
Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, said: “In this emergency situation many telecom operators have shown exceptional solidarity with the people fleeing Ukraine. Today they make an additional important step. We welcome the joint statement by European and Ukrainian operators to make it easier for those suffering from the Kremlin war to stay connected. This engagement will make it possible to have voluntary measures apply as widely as possible throughout Europe. People displaced across Europe will be able to phone home, and people in Ukraine will be able to phone loved ones abroad at affordable conditions.”
- Come Back Alive is one of the largest charitable foundations that supports Ukrainian soldiers, founded by the IT specialist Vitaliy Deynega. The organization collected more than 210 million UAH (more than $7M) in 2014. According to Na chasi, the Patreon page Come Back Alive is in the top ten projects by the number of financial donations.
- Army SOS, which develops drones;
- Everybody Can, an organization that supports internally displaced people;
- Help on the Ministry of Defense website.