Feature   Partnerships

Task Force Supports Djibouti's COVID-19 Fight

July 1, 2020 | BY AIR FORCE SENIOR AIRMAN GAGE DANIEL

Members of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, in coordination with the State Department and U.S. Africa Command, delivered more than $9,000 worth of hospital beds to the Djibouti Ministry of Health during a ceremony at the Bouffard Hospital in Djibouti City, Djibouti.

At the request of the Djiboutian government and the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti, the task force was able to purchase the supplies using overseas humanitarian, disaster and civic aid appropriation funds to assist the country during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The June 25 ceremony was the latest of several COVID-19 related aid donations to Djibouti overseen by the task force's 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion. The battalion previously assisted with a June 10 delivery of 500 hygiene kits valued at $15,000 and later provided similar kits to a number of ministries. This latest delivery included 60 of the 95 beds to be delivered.

Service members and civilians wearing face masks stand in front of a backdrop for a ceremony at a hospital.
COVID Donations
Dr. Saleh Banoita Tourab, the executive secretary of the Djiboutian Ministry of Health, speaks during a ceremony at Bouffard Hospital in Djibouti City, Djibouti, June 25, 2020. Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa donated 60 beds valued at $9,400 to the Djiboutian Ministry of Health for its efforts during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Dylan Murakami
VIRIN: 200625-F-LN908-0632

Dr. Saleh Banoita Tourab, the executive secretary of the Djibouti Ministry of Health, expressed his gratitude to the United States for the donations, which will be distributed among medical facilities throughout Djibouti.

''One recognizes one's friends in times of extreme need, and that is the meaning of this generous donation you have just made to us,'' Tourab said during the June 10 supply-delivery ceremony. ''Let us renew our sincere thanks and know we remain convinced that the cooperation and friendship between the Republic of Djibouti and the United States of America is getting stronger.''

Larry E. André, U.S. ambassador to Djibouti, said, ''The United States appreciates Djibouti and its support for our presence at Camp Lemonnier. As an expression of that appreciation and in the spirit of the strong and enduring relationship between the United States and the Republic of Djibouti, these medical supplies underscore that we are together battling the global pandemic. The United States recognizes the extraordinary efforts being made by the Government of Djibouti to prevent and slow the spread of the virus and is pleased to assist in that effort.''

A soldier hangs a sign that bears the flags of the United States and DJibouti.
Partner Sign
Army Capt. Matthew Kirkpatrick, team chief with the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion, Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, posts a notice that in translation reads, “Provided by the United States” before a ceremony at Bouffard Hospital in Djibouti City, Djibouti, June 25, 2020. The task force donated 60 beds valued at $9,400 to the Djiboutian Ministry of Health for its efforts during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Dylan Murakami
VIRIN: 200625-F-LN908-0629

The donation process began in early April, when the Djibouti Ministry of Health formally requested aid from the U.S. Embassy, which forwarded the request to the task force.

''For me, the health and well-being of people is more important than just about anything else, not just of U.S. forces, but also the citizens of our host nation,'' said Army Maj. Gen. Lapthe Flora, the commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa. ''The support we are providing to our Djiboutian partners in their outstanding efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to provide care to those affected by the virus is a reflection of the enduring relationship enjoyed by the United States and the Republic of Djibouti.''

Once the funds were approved through Africom, the task force's contingency contracting office was able to source the requested assistance items, said Army Capt. James Hedman, a contracting officer.

''After we searched the market and found a supplier that fit both our standards and Djibouti's needs, we were able to award some contracts,'' he said. ''After awarding the contract, there was a little bit of admin work on our side, including paying the vendor and letting Civil Affairs know when the materials were scheduled to arrive in country, but that was about it. I am grateful to have been able to provide support for the local economy and patients.''

Two soldiers — one in civilian clothes, one in uniform, wear face masks while unloading a pallet of supplies from a truck.
Offloading Supplies
Army Maj. Robert Middleton, left, the commander of Alpha Company, 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion, Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, and Army Staff Sgt. Mackenzie Vilme, right,, a team sergeant with Alpha Company, unload hygiene supplies to help Djibouti in preventing COVID-19 infections among hospital staff and its citizens at Djibouti City, Djibouti, June 10, 2020. The task force worked to purchase the supplies, valued at about $15,000, using overseas humanitarian, disaster and civic aid appropriation funds after Djibouti’s government made a formal request for assistance to the U.S. Embassy.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Gage Daniel
VIRIN: 200610-F-QJ135-0002

Once the items arrived at the Port of Djibouti, the responsibility for coordinating delivery and setting up the transfer ceremony fell to the 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion, said Army Capt. Dawn Carter, the battalion's team chief.

''Our civil affairs team has traveled all over Djibouti, and the Djiboutian people are always so welcoming, thoughtful and approachable,'' she said. ''They will stop to help you, even if they are in need of assistance themselves. These supplies are a way that we can give back to those who have received us so warmly and helped us on our journeys around Djibouti.''

(Air Force Senior Airman Gage Daniel is assigned to Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa.)