U.S. troops on their way to help Kenya flood victims
Members of the American-led Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa have been dispatched to provide humanitarian aid to victims of recent floods in Kenya, U.S. military officials said Thursday.
More than 100,000 people have been left as refugees after the flooding near Ifo and Dagahley refugee camps, according to media reports. Standing water also carries the risk of water-borne diseases and respiratory infections.
About 10 U.S. servicemembers already are on the ground with more on the way, and the U.S. military could begin air-dropping supplies in the region as early as Friday, said Maj. Kelley Thibodeau, a spokeswoman for CJTF-HOA.
The whole operation is expected to involve about 50 U.S. servicemembers and one C-130 Hercules aircraft, Thibodeau said.
She said the Kenyan government made an official request for U.S. assistance on Wednesday.
“If our partner nations request our support, we’re more than happy to be there for them in the ways that we can,” Thibodeau said.
About 26 Seabees already in Kenya’s Garissa area have stopped digging wells to help with flood relief efforts, said Command Chief Master Sgt. John Harris Jr., of CJTF-HOA.
Military officials said they are looking at the best way to transport more than 110 tons of relief supplies to the affected regions in Kenya. Those supplies include mosquito nets, blankets, sleeping mats and sheets of plastic.
U.S. troops could fly supplies to the affected region via Nairobi, Harris said in a telephone interview Thursday from Bahrain.
The relief efforts come about four weeks after similar U.S. efforts in Ethiopia, he said.
In total, about 1,800 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and coalition partners are assigned to the Horn of Africa, Harris said.
“It is a small number, but I assure it provides a huge footprint in the area and you can definitely tell an area that we have touched,” he said.
Although the number of those assigned may grow with further deployments, a figure of 5,000 troops operating out of Djibouti, as reported by Stars and Stripes last Saturday, was incorrect.
U.S. efforts in the region include training foreign militaries and civil-military projects and construction projects to combat extremism, Harris said.
“We’re waging peace side by side with our partner nations in the region,” he said.