U.S. military personnel flew more than 120 sorties with C-17 and C-130 aircraft, delivering 820 metric tons of relief that included food, shelter and medical supplies and the transport of disaster experts and workers to impacted areas to conduct assessments, AFRICOM said in a press release Friday.
The military was only authorized by the Pentagon to assist with relief operations in the flooded region until April 13. However, other U.S. government assets will remain in the country.
AFRICOM assets completed all requirements identified by U.S. Agency for International Development, which was the U.S. government’s lead agency for the disaster response.
"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, U.S. Africa Command. “Working alongside the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, and international partners, U.S. Africa Command provided assistance to Mozambique when they desperately needed it the most.”
Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique on March 14, one of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect Africa and the Southern Hemisphere.
Within days of the cyclone’s landfall, nearly 100 U.S. service members from Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, the lead organization for U.S. Africa Command’s efforts, deployed to Mozambique, AFRICOM said.
U.S. forces helped to assess airfields and bring in supplies to major airports, which could then be driven further inland.
Today, all major airfields are open, enabling efforts to continue, AFRICOM said.
“Operations like these reflect U.S. values and a desire to provide assistance where and when it matters most," Air Force Col. Chris Karns, an AFRICOM spokesman, said.
When the crisis in Mozambique began, about 1.8 million people were in urgent need of help and emergency workers set out to try to contain outbreaks of cholera and malaria.
Hundreds of thousands of people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi were displaced by Cyclone Idai, and are living in camps or public buildings on higher ground.
Almost 1,000 people reportedly died in the disaster, though the total death toll will likely remain unknown for some time.
“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," said Dennis W. Hearne, the U.S. ambassador to Mozambique. "We are proud to serve alongside them.”
AFRICOM often lends assistance to disaster relief operations led by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance when the command has unique capabilities — like large cargo air frames — that the agency needs.
As the international response increases and access to affected areas improve, military response requirements decline, according to AFRICOM.
U.S. government agencies will continue to distribute supplies using commercially chartered aircraft and vehicles, and a team of U.S. disaster experts remain to help coordinate with the Mozambique government, the United Nations and other nongovernmental organizations, AFRICOM said in the release.