Operation RELIEF

International Information

International Operation Name: Operation RELIEF

International Mission Name: RELIEF

Mandating Organization: Government of Canada

Region Name: Africa

Location: Somalia

Mission Date: 18 August 1992 - 28 February 1993

Canadian Forces (CF) Information (RELIEF)

Canadian Task Force Name Mission Statement: To deliver humanitarian aid to Somalia.

CF Mission/Operation Notes: Somalia was already suffering from a civil war that had displaced as many as one million people when it was hit by a severe drought in 1991. Agricultural output fell to 30 percent of the norm, and by early 1992 an estimated 1-2 million people were at risk of starving to death. Non-government organizations (NGOs) stepped up their efforts to bring relief, while the United Nations began to take a more active role in trying to bring peace to Somalia and in delivering humanitarian assistance.

After a joint request from the United Nations’ World Food Programme and the International Commission of the Red Cross, the CF sent a reconnaissance team to Kenya and Somalia to evaluate the situation in late August. Upon their return the decision was made to support the request, with the mission, named Operation Relief being authorized on 2 September 1992.

Three CC-130 aircraft were to deploy, one supporting the WFP and one the ICRC. The third aircraft would be a spare. They would operate from Nairobi, Kenya and fly into locations as requested by the NGO coordination center. The operation was to last until 12 December 1992.

The first flights took place on 11 September, with one flight each for the WFP and for the ICRC. Four flights a day were the norm thereafter. They carried a wide variety of food relief including rice, beans, and cooking oil. In October, the Hercules also began airdropping relief into remote areas to assist by the NGOs in convincing the starving to remain where they were, in their villages, rather than leaving and either embarking on a fruitless search for food elsewhere or overwhelming aid agencies in nearby towns.

Although Canadian Hercules aircraft sometimes found themselves in the middle of firefights between the factions vying for control of particular areas, fortunately the crews suffered no casualties.

While deliveries of aid were ongoing, plans were made to airlift Canadian troops, scheduled to participate in the United Nations Operation in Somalia (Canadian name Op Cordon). The troops were to land at Nairobi from whence the CC-130s would fly them to Bossasso. This plan changed with the decision to redeploy the Canadians to Belet Huen and participate in the American-led Unified Task Force (Canadian name Op Deliverance). This delayed the operation, which now started on 28 December 1992. Thereafter, the three Hercules supported not only Op Relief, but also Op Deliverance.

On 30 December the decision was made to extend Op Relief until 31 January 1993. This was further extended one more time, to 28 February 1993, at which time Operation Relief was terminated. The three CC-130 Hercules remained in Nairobi from which they continued to operate in support of Op Deliverance. They also participated in the WFP’s Operation Lifeline Sudan (Canadian name Op Sudan). The totals for Op Relief were 290 flights, 594 passengers and 4100 tons of relief for the World Food Programme and 257 flights, 297 passengers and 3100 tons of relief for the International Commission of the Red Cross. Over 400 air force personnel served in Op Relief.


Canadian area at Mogadishu Airport in Somalia.

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