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U.S. Navy Delivers Emergency Aid for Chad Refugees
The U.S. Navy&#39;s High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) delivered 25 pallets of food products and medical supplies to United Nations relief organizations in Douala, Cameroon, February 11 to aid refugees from Chad.<br />
The U.S. Navy's High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) delivered 25 pallets of food products and medical supplies to United Nations relief organizations in Douala, Cameroon, February 11 to aid refugees from Chad.

Already on station in the Gulf of Guinea as part of the international Africa Partnership Station (APS) initiative, Swift diverted to Douala to respond to an ongoing humanitarian crisis as thousands of residents from Chad crossed into Cameroon to escape fighting between government military forces and opposition rebels.

"We were coordinating a routine delivery of APS material donated from Project Handclasp when the U.S. Embassy staff in Douala asked us to quickly adjust our schedule," said Swift Commanding Officer Commander Charles Rock. "Because APS platforms have a persistent presence in this region, we have been able to develop the necessary relationships with embassy personnel and non-governmental organizations to provide the flexibility needed to respond to this kind of crisis."

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Program (WFP) will utilize the donated material, including 15 pallets of a fortified rice-soy food product that will provide more than 100,000 meals, seven pallets of basic medical supplies, and three pallets of personal hygiene items to provide relief for thousands of Chad refugees now in northern Cameroon.

"It's important that we get these supplies quickly, because refugees have recently started crossing the border," said Jean-Luc Kohler, logistics officer for the WFP Chad office. "It's a good moment because we are just setting up operations and it's critical that we have the supplies we need to help these refugees. The refugees have only been able to bring small items with them as they flee."

The WFP Cameroon office, which received the donation, has arranged for the items to be flown to the UNHCR hub in Garoua, Cameroon, for distribution to those in need.

During the ongoing inaugural APS deployment to West and Central Africa, platforms like Swift and USS Fort McHenry are providing dozens of pallets of food and supplies donated by non-governmental organization (NGO) partner Project Handclasp. Although this particular donation is provided in response to an emergent situation, it is in line with the APS goal of matching donations to sustainable, ongoing humanitarian programs.

"APS provides a valuable opportunity to understand programs and continue to develop relationships with NGOs and inter-governmental agencies throughout the region," said Lieutenant Commander Chuck Bell, an embarked APS civil affairs planner and NGO liaison from Maritime Civil Affairs Squadron 2. "This helps us respond more efficiently to emergency requirements."

In addition to the 25 pallets donated to UNHCR and WFP, Swift also delivered a pallet of hygiene material and a manual sewing workshop to the NGO Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The hygiene items will support CRS contributions to the refugee assistance effort and the sewing workshop will contribute to an existing program in the north that that promotes socio-economic growth in the community.

Delivery and transportation was made possible through the efforts of African Partnership Station. African Partnership Station is a U.S. Naval Forces Europe-led initiative, executed by a multinational staff aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) and High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2). Commander Task Group 365 and training teams from various U.S. and European military commands, as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations are embarked on board Fort McHenry to enhance cooperative partnerships with regional maritime services in West and Central Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.