Admiral tours Navy flood relief in Ethiopia
Stars and Stripes August 22, 2006
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — With U.S. Navy Seabees beginning relief efforts and a military medical team on its way, the commander of the U.S.-led Horn of Africa anti-terrorism mission visited flood-devastated areas of Ethiopia on Sunday, officials said Monday.
Rear Adm. Richard Hunt, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, met with the mayor of Dire Dawa and surveyed one part of the nationwide flooding that has killed 900 people and displaced tens of thousands more throughout Ethiopia.
“We’ve been able to provide the Ethiopian government everything they’ve asked for, and we’re standing by to provide additional help if needed,” Hunt said, according to a U.S. military news release.
According to Ethiopian officials, the flooding could get worse — more rivers are flowing over their banks and several dams are close to the breaking point. More rains are expected in the coming weeks. Since the flooding began Aug. 6, officials said, some 13,000 Ethiopians have been relocated by the government.
U.N. officials on Monday said that flooding throughout Ethiopia has left up to 48,000 people homeless, either through voluntary or emergency moves.
The 35 Seabees, from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion-5, have been setting up a relief camp with 60 tents and sanitary facilities, officials said Monday. A U.S. military medical team will be sent this week to work with Ethiopian military medical teams.
Some 1,500 troops from the U.S., Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda are wrapping up Exercise Natural Fire, with training and humanitarian relief sites in all three countries. The exercise, being held for the first time in five years, is based on a scenario involving a disastrous earthquake in East Africa.