Operation FOODLIFT AFRICA

International Operation Name: N/A

International Operation Dates:  N/A

Mandating Organization: Government of Canada

Region Name:  Africa

Location:  West Africa

Canadian Operation Name: Operation FOODLIFT AFRICA

Canadian Operation Dates: 1973/07/01 – 1973/08/12

Mission Mandate:

To transport humanitarian aid to locations in West Africa at the request of the United Nations.

Mission Notes:

As a result of drought in West Africa, millions of people were threatened by starvation in an area covering Chad in the west, through Mali, Niger, Upper Volta, and Senegal, to Mauritania in the east.  11 million people were at risk.  As a result, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization made an urgent request for famine relief.  Canada agreed to provide one Hercules for the month of July.

The initial Canadian response was one Hercules from 436 Squadron.  It was soon flying one long trip from Lagos, Nigeria, where relief supplies were being unloaded from merchant vessels, to Dirkou or Arlit, and then another shorter trip to Agadez or Tahoua.  On 11 July, two more Hercules, these from 435 Squadron, arrived, with all three aircraft carrying out a routine of two flights each a day for a total of 120 tons daily.

The conditions were harsh, with dust storms daily and high heat – 120 degrees – but it was a dry heat!  Bird strikes were common, as were goats and camels on the gravel runways.  Dry milk, seed grain and sorghum were the main food supplies delivered.

On 25 July, the original Hercules aircraft left, taking with it the crew of the original detachment.  A further appeal from Nigeria, through the UN, extended the operation to 12 August.  Fresh crews arrived on 2 August flying from Kano in northern Nigeria, into Maradi and Tahoua with grain for the dying cattle.  In 44 days, the three aircraft conducted 133 flights and delivered 2,675 tons of supplies.

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