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- 08/15/17--10:46: Sierra Leone: Flood in Sierra Leone
Shelter: At least 3,000 people are homeless and over 300 houses have been destroyed.
WASH: Contamination of drinking water and sewage overflows are expected. Access to safe drinking water is a priority.
Health: Poor WASH system, crowded conditions, and a lack of adherence to infection prevention measures could lead to new localised outbreaks.
- 08/16/17--04:10: Sierra Leone: Sierra Leone mudslides - Christian Aid statement
- 08/16/17--07:43: Sierra Leone: Alert: Sierra Leone Floods
Geneva – After learning Monday of devastating floods that left hundreds dead in the West African nation of Sierra Leone, IOM, the United Nations Migration Agency, immediately released USD 150,000 in emergency, first-response aid relief.
“IOM is ready to work with Sierra Leone’s government in any capacity it can, to respond to this terrible event,” said Director General William Lacy Swing Tuesday morning from IOM headquarters in Geneva.
West Africa Regional IOM chief Richard Danziger, speaking from Dakar, Senegal, said IOM was joining Sierra Leone authorities and the UN country team Tuesday doing damage assessment in the impacted region near the capital, Freetown.
Hundreds of citizens are reported dead with many more missing after mudslides and floods tore through several communities; search teams expect to discover more remains in the coming days and weeks.
Access to potable water and widespread homelessness are expected to be immediate concerns for thousands of people in the capital, whose population exceeds one million.
Flooding has caused havoc in Sierra Leone in the recent past. IOM this month inaugurated a water treatment facility located about 50 kilometers outside Freetown to provide safe drinking water to the population resettled at Mile 6 in the aftermath of the flash floods that ravaged Freetown in September 2015. Find more details here.
Freetown– IOM, the UN Migration Agency and the Government of Japan last week (10/08) handed over the first water purification facility in Sierra Leone to the resettled community of Mile 6, Koya Rural.
The facility, located about 50 kilometers outside Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital, will provide safe drinking water to the population resettled at Mile 6 in the aftermath of the flash floods that ravaged Freetown in September 2015.
Those floods caused widespread property damage and displaced thousands from their homes.
In Sierra Leone, “40 per cent of 30,000 hand pumps and boreholes are not functioning due to lack of maintenance and spare parts,” an official of the Sierra Leonean Ministry of Water Resources explained.
The plant would improve the inhabitants’ well-being by addressing the problem of inadequate sanitary facility. Hitherto, the inhabitants have relied on using water fetched from unprotected wells and running streams located miles away from their settlement.
Prior to being launched in Sierra Leone, the water purification plant had been tested for feasibility in Tanzania and successfully introduced by IOM in Somalia. The water plant uses the same component, Poly Glu, to convert dirty and polluted water to safe and good quality water for human consumption. Poly Glu is a ‘coagulant’ that attracts the dirt and takes it to the bottom. As a result, the clean drinkable water will be on top. The plant is simple, safe and effective to utilize for small-scale treatment of drinking water. The water produced using this system has been certified as safe for drinking by the Sierra Leone Ministry of Water Resources.
Commenting on the sustainability of the project, Sanusi Savage, IOM Sierra Leone Head of Office, said, “Water is life. From this moment on, I would like to encourage the leadership of this community to take ownership of this facility and sustain it for the sake of our children.”
Margaret S. Kargbo, Deputy Chairperson of the Western Area Rural District Council, highlighted the importance of women’s leadership for maintaining the water treatment facility because of their strategic role at home as well as in the community.
The plants are part of the project, Strengthening Disaster Preparedness and Response in Sierra Leone. IOM installed the water plants in collaboration with the Office of National Security (ONS), through funding provided by the Government of Japan. The four other water plants are scheduled to be operational within six months.
For more information, please contact:
Sanusi Savage, IOM Freetown, Tel: +232 99606066, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Brima Bendu, Tel: +232 76530884, Email: email@example.com or Yuki Daizumoto, Tel: +232 99606066, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Event: Flood
Location of Event: Sierra Leone
Date of Charter Activation: 15 August 2017
Time of Charter Activation: 11:28:00
Time zone of Charter Activation: UTC+02:00
Charter Requestor: UNOOSA on behalf of FAO Sierra Leone Office and UN Country Team
Description of the event
Heavy rain has caused floods and mudslides in Sierra Leone, leaving over 300 dead.
The disaster has particularly affected Freetown, the country's capital. Part of the Sugar Loaf Mountain collapsed on the edge of the city in the Regent area, flooding and burying dozens of homes under mud.
Flooding began during the night on 14 August, leaving people with little to no warning as flood waters and mud swept into the streets of Freetown. More than 2000 people were left homeless and authorities have urged affected residents to move to safer ground.
Rescue operations are ongoing but Freetown is already struggling to cope with the scope of the damage and loss of life which is expected to rise over the coming days.
Rains in Freetown started on Sunday 13 August and have continued since. At least 400 people, including at least 60 children, were killed following the collapse of a hillside in the Regent area near the capital, in Greater Freetown early on Monday morning, as many people were asleep. Since 1 July, Freetown has received triple the usual amount of rain. Most affected areas are within an area known as Regent. Three other communities were inundated, at Lumley in the west of Freetown as well as Kissy Brook and Dworzak Farm.
Anticipated scope and scale
Weather forecasts indicate further heavy rain is expected this week in Freetown. More rain is likely to fall until the end of the rainy season in November, which could lead to further flooding.
The risk of waterborne diseases is high, and compounded by a poor health system. An outbreak due to contamination of water sources and inadequate health services poses a serious risk.
Cholera is endemic and outbreaks are recurrent in Sierra Leone.
Christian Aid is working alongside other non-governmental agencies in Sierra Leone to coordinate its response to the flooding and mudslides that have killed nearly 400 people in the capital city, Freetown.
Christian Aid’s programme team in Sierra Leone have been urgently assessing the needs of communities, after heavy seasonal rains triggered a deluge of mud and debris in the city’s Regent neighbourhood.
An estimated 3,000 people have lost their homes, while at least 600 individuals are still missing, according to authorities. Rescue efforts are continuing.
Christian Aid’s Acting Head of Humanitarian Michael Mosselmans, said: “We are extremely saddened by the devastation, loss of life and suffering caused by the mudslide in Freetown. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragedy.
“All of our Christian Aid colleagues in the city are safe, and have been accounted for. They are now putting all their energies into assessing the needs, so that help can get to all those who are now homeless and have no access to food, clean water, medical assistance, sanitation supplies and shelter.
“Our partners are in place and poised to provide critical support to victims. We have been in contact with the START Network and other START agencies in Sierra Leone to assess what rapid funding is available and to coordinate our response. We are now planning next steps."
The START Network is a consortium of 42 leading NGOs (including Christian Aid), who work together to strengthen the humanitarian aid system with rapid support where necessary, particularly through its START Fund.
Christian Aid jointly initiated a START Alert yesterday morning, alongside the following organisations: Action Against Hunger; ActionAid; CAFOD; GOAL; Handicap International; International Rescue Committee; Oxfam; Plan International; Save the Children; Tearfund and Welthungerhilfe.
The Network will decide, within 48 hours, whether to release the rapid funds for a multi-agency 45-day response that will target some of the most vulnerable people affected.
If agreed, this response would include provision of safe water (to mitigate the risk of water-borne diseases), food, shelter, essential personal and household items, psychosocial support, and assistance with reuniting separated families.
The START Fund was launched in 2014 with contributions from the UK Government’s Department for International Development, Irish Aid and latterly the Dutch government *Further details will be shared as and when it becomes available.
Terror attack kills at least 18 people
On 13 August, gunmen stormed a restaurant in the capital Ouagadougou and killed 18 people, and wounding 22 others, according to the government. Two attackers were killed. A similar attack on a nearby cafe in January 2016 killed 30 people.
Approximately 200 new CAR refugees in southern Chad
Following security incidents in northern Central African Republic (CAR) in early August, which caused at least three deaths, UNHCR and the Chadian refugee commission have recorded 185 people that have crossed over since 5 August to the Maro area of southern Chad. This is the latest in a series of waves of CAR refugees that have fled to Chad in the last year. Since June 2016, over 3,500 new refugees from CAR have been registered, bringing the total of CAR refugees in Chad to 73,000.
Government apologises for military's unauthorised search of UN base camp
More than 50 soldiers entered the ‘Red Roof’ UN base camp in Maiduguri on 11 August, jolting aid workers from sleep and conducting a search of the compound without authorization. This prompted a temporary suspension of humanitarian operations, followed by apologies from the state government and a joint press conference by the Governor and the Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 13 August expressed regret over the incident, reassuring the UN and partners of protection and safety as obligated under international humanitarian law and principles.
Fire in displacement site destroys 3,000 huts
Nearly 25,000 IDPs left the Katanyika site near Kalemie, in the Southeastern part of the country, following a fire that broke out on 9 August. Over half of the huts in the site were destroyed. Over the past three months, five displacement sites have been burnt in Kalemie Territory. Humanitarian actors will meet with local authorities to advocate for the strengthening of protection measures for IDPs hosted in the sites.
Hundreds dead and thousands left homeless after mudslides and floods in the capital
A mudslide struck the outskirts of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown on 14 August, sweeping away homes and infrastructures. According to the Red Cross, 312 people were confirmed dead, and it is likely that the toll could rise further. In the worst hit area, the Regent district, dozens of houses were submerged when the hillside collapsed early in the morning, with many victims were asleep in their beds when disaster struck. Police and military personnel were at the scene searching for people trapped in the debris. Three thousands people are estimated to have lost their homes.
UNE ATTAQUE TERRORISTE TUE AU MOINS 18 PERSONNES
Le 13 août, des hommes armés ont pris d'assaut un restaurant dans la capitale Ouagadougou et ont tué 18 personnes et blessé 22 autres, selon le gouvernement. Deux attaquants ont été tués. Une attaque similaire dans un café voisin en janvier 2016 avait fait 30 morts.
ENVIRON 200 NOUVEAUX RÉFUGIÉS DE LA RCA DANS LE SUD
Suite à des incidents de sécurité dans le nord de la République centrafricaine (RCA) au début du mois d'août ayant causé au moins trois décès, le HCR et la Commission nationale des réfugiés ont enregistré 185 personnes qui ont traversé le 5 août dans la région de Maro, au sud du Tchad. Il s’agit de la dernière d'une série de vagues de réfugiés de la RCA qui ont fui vers le Tchad l'année dernière. Depuis juin 2016, plus de 3 500 personnes ont été enregistrées, portant le total des réfugiés de la RCA au Tchad à 73 000.
LE GOUVERNEMENT S’EXCUSE POUR LA FOUILLE NON AUTORISÉE D’UN CAMP DE BASE DES NATIONS UNIES
Plus de 50 soldats ont pénétré au milieu de la nuit du 11 août dans le camp et base des Nations Unies «Red Roof» à Maiduguri, réveillant les travailleurs humanitaires et effectuant une fouille des lieux sans autorisation. Cela a entraîné une suspension temporaire des opérations humanitaires, suivies d'excuses du gouvernement de l‘état de Borno et d'une conférence de presse conjointe du Gouverneur et du Coordonnateur humanitaire adjoint.
Le 13 août, le ministère des Affaires étrangères a regretté l'incident, rassurant les Nations Unies et leurs partenaires de leur protection et sécurité, comme l'exigent le droit et les principes humanitaires internationaux.
UN INCENDIE DANS UN CAMP DE DÉPLACÉS DÉTRUIT 3 000 ABRIS
Près de 25 000 personnes déplacées ont quitté le site de Katanyika, près de Kalemie, dans la partie sud-est du pays, à la suite d'un incendie qui a éclaté le 9 août. Plus de la moitié des huttes du site ont été détruites. Au cours des trois derniers mois, cinq sites de déplacement ont été brûlés dans le territoire de Kalemie. Les acteurs humanitaires rencontreront les autorités locales pour défendre le renforcement des mesures de protection pour les personnes déplacées hébergées sur les sites.
DES CENTAINES DE MORTS ET DES MILLIERS DE PERSONNES SANS ABRI SUITE AUX INONDATIONS
Un glissement de terrain a frappé la périphérie de Freetown, la capitale sierra-léonaise, le 14 août, balayant des maisons et des infrastructures. Selon la Croix-Rouge, 312 corps ont été retrouvés, et le bilan pourrait encore augmenter. Dans la zone la plus touchée, dans le district de Regent, des dizaines de maisons ont été submergées lorsqu’un flan de colline s’est effondré tôt le matin, au moment où de nombreuses victimes étaient encore endormies.
La police et le personnel militaire étaient sur les lieux à la recherche de personnes piégées dans les débris. On estime que 3 000 personnes ont perdu leurs maisons.
FREETOWN – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is distributing food assistance to 7,500 people affected by the massive mudslides and flooding in Sierra Leone that have killed scores of people and left many more homeless and in desperate need of assistance.
Hours after Monday’s mudslides around Freetown, WFP began distributing initial two-week rations of rice, pulses, vegetable oil and salt to the hardest-hit communities of Regent, Sugar Loaf and Mortomeh around the capital. The assistance will be provided to both survivors of the mudslides and households hosting them, as well as rescue workers and mortuary attendants.
The UN has tasked WFP to support and coordinate a joint and effective humanitarian response to ensure food, shelter and other essential assistance is delivered to those who need it as speedily as possible.
“The mudslides have left a path of death and devastation,” said WFP Representative and Country Director Housainou Taal. “Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims and their families. At the same time, we are now focusing on the survivors, so they can recover and move ahead.”
The experience of Sierra Leone’s Ebola outbreak has prepared the humanitarian community to offer a swift, joint response to this current emergency. Beyond delivering food assistance, WFP is working closely with the government and other partners in search and rescue efforts, notably by providing logistics, geo-spatial mapping of disaster areas and other support.
“We can only hope the rains and flash floods will subside, so the current emergency does not turn into a larger catastrophe,” Taal said.
WFP has been working in Sierra Leone since 1968. Our food and nutritional assistance helps more than 800,000 people to build resilience and supports some of the country’s most vulnerable residents, including Ebola orphans and survivors, people living with HIV and tuberculosis, and smallholder farmers.
Hi-res photos available here: https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/AuqVrXo5B6
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media, @wfp_WAfrica
For more information please contact (email address: email@example.com):
Francis Boima, WFP/Freetown, Tel. +232 76750787
Elizabeth Bryant, WFP/Dakar, Tel. +221 338496500/ext. 2103, Mob. +221 639 4271
Jane Howard, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 65132321, Mob. +39 346 7600521
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel. +44 20 72409001, Mob. +44 7968 008474
Gerald Bourke, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-5566909, Mob. +1-646 525 9982
On the evening of the 14 th August, mudslides triggered by three days of heavy rains poured in and around the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown. The most severe mudslides occurred in the coastal suburb of Racecourse on the city’s eastern edge, as well as in Regent and Lumley where thousands of makeshift settlements are home to the city’s poorest communities. Torrential rains have led to a series of significant floods and mudslides in several areas of Freetown. Emergency support is being provided for the two types of responses: floods and mudslides.
According to Freetown Mayor, rescue workers have recovered 270 bodies so far mainly from the Regent neighbourhood where the mudslides happened. As rescue operations are still ongoing, the death toll is expected to rise. An estimated 3,000 or more people are believed to have lost their homes and are in immediate need of emergency assistance and shelter according to Sierra Leone’s Office of National Security (ONS).
Communication lines and electricity have been disrupted in some parts of the capital, and extensive damage to roads, infrastructure and houses. In addition, rescue teams lack the right equipment and are facing difficult conditions with large amounts of mud and debris( UNOCHA, 15 August 2017)
A. Situation analysis
Description of the disaster
A deadly torrential rain caused mudslides on 14 August in Sierra Leone, resulted in heavy destruction and numerous fatalities in hillside towns of Freetown. The most severe mudslides occurred in the eastern part of Racecourse, in the outskirts of Regent and Lumley area of the Sierra Leone capital. Further rain is expected in coming days and more areas are likely to be affected.
According to the Sierra Leon Red Cross, at least 300 people have been killed, many trapped by rubble and collapsed structures. As of this afternoon, 179 bodies, many of them children, have been removed and at least 600 people are still missing. The morgues are overflowing with dead bodies and local authorities keeping them in various community facilities, using local chemicals to prevent decay. The number of casualties is likely to rise as search and rescue operations continue.
THE Salvation Army in Sierra Leone is responding after torrential rains in the capital, Freetown, caused significant floods and devastating landslides. According to the latest reports, almost 400 people are known to have lost their lives – most in a landslide that buried houses in the Regent neighbourhood – and at least 600 are missing. The country's Office of National Security estimates that more than 3,000 people have lost their homes.
Captain Broton Weah reports from Freetown that the landslide happened 'around 3am when people were at sleep. Floods came and swept away all that was in their path. Later, the back of the hill broke and covered the community ... Three soldiers of the Salvation Army Freetown City Corps lost their lives in the process. Some of the survivors lost their legs or hands ... There is an urgent need for food, clothing and other things.'
The government and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) have started the construction of temporary structures for some of the victims, but many needs remain unmet. In the straightforward words of Captain Weah: 'The need is very urgent as the situation is beyond bad.'
Funds have been made available by The Salvation Army's International Headquarters to meet the most pressing needs, while assessments continue. Working in cooperation with the government, the Sierra Leone Red Cross and other NGOs, The Salvation Army will provide food, cooking equipment and blankets to 200 families. Donations are being sought to enable a wider-scale response.
The Salvation Army began work in Sierra Leone in 2010. The ministry is part of the Liberia Command.
This map illustrates satellite-detected landslides and mudflow that affected Regent area south eastern Freetown using a GeoEye-1 acquired the 15 August 2017 compared with a pre-crisis image acquired the 03 March 2017. UNOSAT extracted areas affected by the landslide and subsequent mudflow and could identify 349 damaged structure and 1.3 km of damaged roads within the analysed area. This analysis has not yet been validated in the field. Please send ground feedback to UNITAR /UNOSAT.
• Heavy rain is still falling regularly over Freetown, making removal of debris and search for missing persons difficult. The risk of further landslides is not excluded and the Government, with the support of UNOPS, WFP and FAO, is conducting an analysis of at risk areas, most specifically a 2D and 3D mapping of the hills in Sugar Loaf neighbourhoods. The Government may recommend evacuation of additional areas, with the number of displaced people subsequently increasing.
• Two districts have been affected: Freetown (eastern and western outskirts) and Bo district.
• Registration of survivors continues and on 15 August a mass burial of 150 bodies was held. The IFRC estimates that over 600 people are still missing and over 100 people have been injured.
• Inter-agency rapid assessments conducted by 5 different teams in 16 communities on 15 August are indicating that around 1,100 households are directly affected (about 4,000 people). These are still preliminary figures to be confirmed by further assessments.
• UNICEF is closely monitoring the education situation, with schools due to open in two weeks. An assessment is seeking to identify the number of schools affected by the events.
• WFP food rations were distributed to a total of 7,500 people so far. Rations were distributed on 16 August in Kamayamah, Juba Bridge,
Kaningo, George Brook, Moutain Cut, Kissi Brook and Wellington neighborhoods. On 15 August, 69 families in Sugar Loaf, Regent and Mortomeh communities had already received a two-week ration.
• Registration of affected households is taking place in collaboration with the Office of National Security (ONS), the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS), Save the Children, WFP, as well as community structures.
• UNDP is supporting the search and rescue efforts by providing tools and equipment as well as seconding a data analyst to ONS.
• The SLRCS has deployed volunteers to all affected sites to help in search and rescue efforts, transporting dead bodies, first aid to the injured people and psychosocial support to the bereaved families. 15 vehicles including 3 ambulances have been deployed to do transportation of affected people to evacuation sites. 5 pickup vans to transport dead bodies and 1 truck with body bags and protective gears for volunteers have been deployed so far.
• Humanitarian resources, such as generators and mortuary racks, that were kept at WFP's main logistics base in Port Loko, have been mobilized on behalf of other agencies to support the response.
• WASH supplies from UNICEF which were in stock in Freetown have also been made available, as well as some medical supplies. Body bags have been provided to Ministry of Health and Sanitation by UNICEF, MSF and the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society.
• UNICEF and implementing partners are also working to provide water supplies to affected communities, particularly in the temporary displacement centres in Regent and Lumley. Two water tanks and two water bladders have been set up, three mobile latrines were installed, 5,000 aquatabs were distributed as well as soap and buckets in these two temporary shelters. OXFAM is providing clean water and hygiene kits to help 2,000 households.
• UNICEF has distributed some waterproof tarpaulin covers in Regent and Lumley and IOM is also providing shelter equipment and supporting ONS coordination.
• Four registration centres for unaccompanied children have been established where affected families are being registered. Psychosocial support will also be offered in safe spaces in the two main displacement centres.
• UNFPA is assessing the needs in the health facilities in the affected areas in order to determine the gaps in providing sexual and reproductive health services, including maternal and neonatal health, family planning, adolescent youth friendly spaces and sexual and gender based violence services.
• UNWOMEN and UNAIDS are engaged in psychosocial support, under the lead of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs, and are supporting in the registration and sex disaggregation of data of affected persons.
• Save the Children is assessing the situation and activating its response.
• Concern Worldwide is supporting needs assessments and data collection.
On the night of 13 August 2017, the city of Freetown and its outskirts experienced torrential rains and landslides that continued well into the morning of 14 August 2017.
As at 15 August, the Ministry of Information and Communication has confirmed that 297 deaths have died (105 adult males, 83 women and 109 children, as a result of flooding and landslides, with many still reported missing. The figures are expected to rise.
The Government of Sierra Leone has declared a seven days of mourning and activated the level 3 security. In response to the request for urgent assistance, the UN Resident Coordinator has activated the United Nations disaster response for the affected areas and designated the Country Director and Representative of the World Food Programme as Incident Manager for this crisis.
Response teams have been deployed to two community schools that have been converted as temporary displacement centres (one in Regent and one in Kaningo) for the affected communities. While assessments of needs and gaps are still underway, UNICEF and partners are supporting the response with water, sanitation, hygiene, essential medicines, nutritional services, child protection, education and social mobilization. Preliminary results from the site assessments conducted by the Office of National Security and the United Nations Interagency Rapid Response Team, including UNICEF, indicate that a total of 1,039 households from several locations (including Regent, Kamayamah, Dworzak, Culvert and Kaningo) and 100 individuals in a shelter in Mountain Cut have been affected by the floods and landslides. Disaggregated data on the affected is still not available.
The terrible aftermath of the mudslides in Sierra Leone, which have left more than 3000 people homeless, grimly illustrates the human cost of the government’s failure to implement housing and land policies, said Amnesty International.
Over 400 people were killed in the mudslide, which struck in the early hours of Monday 14 August in the Regent community of the capital, Freetown, with victims largely those living in informal settlements. With hundreds of people still missing, the shocking death toll is expected to rise substantially.
“Right now, Sierra Leone needs immediate assistance to save lives and provide for those who have lost their homes, but we should also ask why so many people died. While flooding is a natural disaster, the scale of the human tragedy in Freetown is, sadly, very much man-made,” said Makmid Kamara, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Global Issues.
“The authorities should have learned lessons from previous similar incidents and put in place systems to prevent, or at least minimise, the consequences of these disasters. Devastating floods are now an annual occurrence in the country’s capital. Yet, due to a lack of regulation and insufficient consideration for minimum standards and environmental laws, millions of Sierra Leoneans are living in dangerously vulnerable homes.”
The right to adequate housing under international law requires that every home be ‘habitable’, which includes providing protections against disasters such as this. However, poor regulation and failures to ensure environmental factors are part of urban planning in Sierra Leone often result in structures being built that are both unsafe and situated in dangerous locations.
In 2015, more than 10 people were killed and thousands more left homeless after flooding hit the capital. Hundreds were forced to camp in the national stadium for weeks while alternative accommodation was found for them.
“We call on the international community to support the emergency relief efforts of the Sierra Leonean government. The thousands of men, women and children who have lost their homes urgently need temporary accommodation and access to proper sanitation and healthcare,” said Makmid Kamara.
“We would also urge that at this critical time, the government ensures all emergency support is delivered in a completely accountable and transparent manner. There must be no repeat of the mismanagement and corruption that blighted the response to the country’s Ebola crisis.”
Thursday 17 August marks the second of seven days of national mourning for the tragedy.
Christian Aid has today launched a public appeal for emergency funds to support its relief operation for families devastated by the flooding and mudslide disaster in Sierra Leone.
Some 3,000 people lost their homes after seasonal rains caused a landslide that submerged entire communities in Regent and its environs – a mountainous area on the outskirts of the capital city, Freetown.
To date, nearly 350 people are known to have died, including more than 120 children. A further 600 individuals remain unaccounted for, while over 100 people are severely injured. The number of fatalities is expected to rise as the rescue efforts continue.
Using emergency funds, Christian Aid will work through its local partners in Freetown to reach 1,000 survivors of the disaster. They will distribute relief items such as food, clean drinking water, clothing, mosquito nets, kitchen utensils and hygiene supplies – including sanitary kits for women and girls.
Speaking from Freetown, Christian Aid’s country manager for Sierra Leone, Jeanne Kamara, said: “Early on Monday morning a heavy downpour in Freetown triggered a deluge of devastation, as rocks, earth and mud fell on houses and buried several communities: it was like a mini volcano.
“We Sierra Leoneans are resilient people and this week our resilience has been cruelly tested, yet again. As a resident of Freetown, it breaks my heart that another tragedy is unfolding here, while we’re still recovering from the deep-rooted impacts of the Ebola epidemic. We are going from emergency to emergency, and this is wreaking untold emotional, physical and psychological damage.
“The mood here this week is sombre and sober, and as I speak the rains are threatening again. Communities, faith groups, aid agencies and government agencies are working hard, but there are still a lot of gaps: a lot of people are using inappropriate make-shift shelters.
“We sent out a team to assess the situation and register those who need help: what we’ve seen are lots of people who are homeless, who are confused, distressed and traumatised, and who will need lots of psycho-social support."
Mrs Kamara continued: “I spoke to a group of women who said they and their surviving family members have no clothes, no underwear, no sanitary kits: everything that they owned has gone. People have nothing, not even a pair of slippers on their feet to make their way to some of the local registration centres.
“They are now extremely vulnerable, especially women and children. School resumes in about a month’s time and many surviving children have lost all their uniforms and school materials. That’s why we are working around the clock, with our partners here in Freetown, to make sure help gets to those who need it most.
"In our initial response, our partners here will be distributing food and other essential items, such as malaria nets and basic household items. Our partners will, as always, work alongside community leaders, faith leaders and traditional leaders, so we can capitalise on their local knowledge and experience of their communities.”
Homeless families are currently sheltering in schools, community halls, churches, mosques and other public buildings. The government is expected to announce long-term plans to house displaced families.
Christian Aid’s relief programme will focus on locations in Freetown that are expected to receive less support from state bodies and aid organisations. In addition to launching today’s appeal, it has also applied for funds from other donors such as the START Network. It hopes to use this additional funding to, among other things, help displaced women and girls at risk of violence.
***To donate to Christian Aid’s emergency appeal, visit:www.caid.org.uk/sierra-leone-mudslide**