US Military Will End Relief Operations in Mozambique

U.S. Airmen and Soldiers load relief supplies into the back of a C-130J Hercules assigned to the 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, at the airport in Maputo, Mozambique, March 29, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Chris Hibben)
U.S. Airmen and Soldiers load relief supplies into the back of a C-130J Hercules assigned to the 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, at the airport in Maputo, Mozambique, March 29, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Chris Hibben)

The U.S. military's disaster relief response to Cyclone Idai in Mozambique is coming to an end.

Officials with U.S. Africa Command said Friday that the unit's role in relief operations will be completed Saturday, with the U.S. Agency for International Development and global relief organizations taking over the task of delivering needed supplies to victims of the tropical storm.

U.S. service members flew more than 120 sorties during the operation, delivering emergency workers and 800 metric tons of relief supplies to locations across the country. According to U.S. Africa Command, all major airfields in the country are now open, allowing non-military organizations to continue working in the storm-ravaged country and using commercial aircraft.

Nearly 100 troops from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa deployed to Mozambique from Djibouti and elsewhere just days after the cyclone made landfall near the port city of Beira on March 14.

The personnel were authorized to survey damaged airfields, develop plans for delivering supplies and facilitate those deliveries to primary hubs and outlying airfields.

Related: US Military Delivers 125 Tons of Food to Cyclone Ravaged Mozambique

Provisions from World Food Programme staging areas in Pisa, Italy and Dubai were transported on C-17 Globemaster aircraft to Mozambique's main airport at Maputo, the capital. Then, the supplies were loaded onto C-130 Hercules or C-12 Hurons for delivery.

"It was important to provide relief and assistance to the government of the Republic of Mozambique and those affected by this national disaster," said Marine Corps Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command.

Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, dumping up to 24 inches of rain, in some locations, across an area roughly the size of Rhode Island. An estimated 1,000 people were killed and 1.8 million affected, left without electricity, food, and, for 73,000 people, their homes.

The displaced are living in shelters, camps or public buildings like schools and offices. The overcrowded conditions and lack of sanitation have led to an outbreak of cholera: as of Friday, 4,373 people had been diagnosed with the potentially deadly disease, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The U.S. continues to be involved in relief efforts, according to the U.S. Africa Command release. State Department employees will continue providing support, U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique Dennis Hearne said.

"The U.S. Mission to Mozambique, in coordination with the Mozambican Government and the United Nations, will continue the overall relief and reconstruction effort," Hearne said. "AFRICOM's deployment of U.S. military air assets and the corresponding support and logistical personnel were absolutely critical to saving the lives of Mozambicans and putting the communities in the affected areas on the road to recovery."

-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @patriciakime.

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