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Cablegate: Nigeria: Request for Helicopter Authorization

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 002260

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL EAID MASS MARR PINS CASC NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: REQUEST FOR HELICOPTER AUTHORIZATION

REF: ABUJA 2259


1. NIACT IMMEDIATE precedence required because of urgent
humanitarian crisis. Precedence authorized by CDA Andrews.


2. This is an urgent action request for the Department.
Please see para 5. Response requested by OOB Abuja (0630
GMT) on Monday, 10 September.


3. Embassy requests State Department authorization to
allocate Operation Focus Relief helicopter operational time
to reconnaissance of flood-stricken areas in Kano and Jigawa
States for humanitarian assistance missions. U.S. Mission
has, through the CDA and after consultation with the
Ambassador, declared an emergency in Kano and Jigawa States
due to significant flooding (Ref A). Use of OFR helicopter
assets will facilitate assessment of the disaster and enable
the most effective possible response.


4. DATT COMMENT: Two Operation FOCUS RELIEF-dedicated
DOS-contracted Mi-8 MTB helicopters, operated by
International Charter Incorporated, are currently stationed
in Abuja. A third helicopter arrives on 15 September. Use
of these helicopters to assess the flood-stricken areas and
evaluate potential U.S. (and Nigerian) response represents an
unparalleled ability to find answers quickly and to
demonstrate USG concern very visibly. Short-term impact on
Operation Focus Relief is extremely minimal: Phase III
elements begin arriving this week, however, training does not
begin in Birnin-Kebbi until 24 September. Use of these
helicopters would mean postponing the placement of one
helicopter in Birnin-Kebbi by only a few days until U.S.
mission response scenarios have been decided upon. END DATT
COMMENT.


5. ACTION REQUEST: Embassy requests immediate Department
authorization to allocate Operation Focus Relief helicopter
operational time to aerial reconnaissance missions, if
needed. END ACTION REQUEST.
Andrews

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