Wednesday, December 13, 2006

CJTF-HOA delivers food, aid to flood victims: Kenya

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With all of the focus on Iraq and Afghanistan many often forget about the countries in the Horn of Africa who are important in the War on Terror. Here is a story from CJTF-HOA about recent efforts to bring relief from the recent flooding disaster in Kenya.

Story by : Comined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, Public Affairs.

DADAAB, Kenya (Dec 10, 2006) - Flood-relief supplies are strategically dropped out of a C-130 aircraft flying over the Dadaab region of Kenya . The drop was part of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Operation Unity Knight, in which 150 metric tons of supplies were airdropped to flood victims.

NAIROBI, Kenya – A team made up of U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force service members assigned to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa worked throughout the night in early December to put together pallets of supplies for victims of severe flooding in rural Kenya.

Due to roads in the area being washed out by heavy floodwaters, the only way to deliver the supplies – comprised of shelters and mosquito nets – was by emergency airlift.

More than 150,000 victims of the flood were in dire need of the material, said Lars Sommerlund, head of the supply section for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the organization that requested the help.

“This area floods at least twice a year, but this year the flooding was particularly severe,” Sommerlund said. “And because the major roads were washed away, this air drop was the only way to get the needed help to the people in time.”

The emergency supplies amount to 150 metric tons of the shelters and the mosquito netting, Sommerlund said.

CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti (Dec 10, 2006) - Tech. Sgt. Terreon Shirlee, an air transportation journeyman deployed to the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron from Little Rock AFB, Ark., assists Capt. James King, commander of the Movement Control Team at the 386th ELRS, as they drill holes into plywood that will serve as the base for pallets being air dropped into Eastern Kenya.

“Mosquito-spread malaria is an extreme danger in the area, and the standing water from the flooding and the continuous rain has made the situation even more acute,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important to get these supplies to the refugees as quickly as possible.”

“We received the UNHCR request for help about three weeks ago, and we began planning for an air drop of the supplies because the roads in the area were cut off,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Phil Frietze, mission commander for the operation.

“About a week ago, we identified three possible drop zones in the area that we could use, depending on their condition,” Frietze said. The condition of each potential drop zone could be affected by the initial flooding and the continuing rain in the area.

“Responding to situations like this is part of our mission at CJTF-HOA, so we are fully capable of planning and executing this job,” said the major.

The command assembled a group of riggers to put together the pallets, which would have to withstand the impact of being dropped from a moving aircraft without parachutes, without damaging the supplies or injuring anyone on the ground. Parachutes were not used because of the expense and there was no way to retrieve the parachutes after the drop, Frietze said.

Working with the U.S. Embassy in Kenya and the Government of Kenya, CJTF-HOA put the plan together in a short time because of the desperate need of the flood victims.

U.S. Central Command
Public Affairs
Capt. Anthony Deiss
Spc. Patrick Ziegler
Spc. Chris Erickson

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