U.S. Service Members Assist Fire Victims in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Residents of the Sidist Kilo neighborhood in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who lost their homes in a fire, listen to a speech by U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto on May 20, 2008. After the speech, U.S. Service Members with the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa distributed 350 sleeping bags and pillows to the community. (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class John Hulle, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa) CJTF-HOA Photo ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Residents of the Sidist Kilo neighborhood in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who lost their homes in a fire, listen to a speech by U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto on May 20, 2008. After the speech, U.S. Service Members with the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa distributed 350 sleeping bags and pillows to the community. (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class John Hulle, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa)

Personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia and service members deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) distributed new sleeping bags and pillows on May 20, 2008, to hundreds of residents of the Sidist Kilo neighborhood who lost their homes in a fire.

According to Army Major Todd Mitchell, CJTF-HOA civil affairs team leader for Addis Ababa, the fire destroyed approximately 48 homes, displacing more than 345 people. "The fire happened at night and spread fast, with residents fleeing their burning homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Luckily there were no injuries or fatalities," Mitchell said.

U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto, along with CJTF-HOA service members, distributed the 350 new sleeping bags and pillows.

"Ittâ?s a simple thing for us to do, but it can really help out these people who lost everything," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Clifton Ammons. "Now they might be able to get a better sleep, which will give them, hopefully, a better day so they can try and rebuild their lives."

Before the distribution, community leaders and the Ambassador gave a few words to those in attendance.

"We pray for you and we thank you for allowing us to be a part of your life," said Ambassador Yamamoto.

"We are very thankful for what CJTF-HOA has done for us and what people of the United States have done for us," said Zenebe Zeleke, a community leader for the district. "It helps much. With the rainy season coming we will be able to cover ourselves from the cold."

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