UN and UK aid rescue efforts in Sierra Leone after fatal mudslides

16 Aug 17

The United Nations has released $150,000 in emergency aid relief to Sierra Leone after fatal mudslides in the country, the global organisation announced yesterday.

The UK government also released a statement yesterday saying it was working with Sierra Leone to help coordinate rescue efforts after torrential flooding led to mudslides that destroyed areas of the capital Freetown.

More than 300 people are thought to have died in the disaster, while unknown numbers of others were buried by the mud and corpses are expected to be found once the flooding recedes.

General William Lacy Swing, director of the UN’s migration agency International Organisation for Migration - which released the first-response funds - said: “IOM [International Organization for Migration] is ready to work with Sierra Leone's government in any capacity it can, to respond to this terrible event.”

Richard Danziger, IOM's West Africa fegional chief, speaking from Dakar, Senegal, said the IOM was joining Sierra Leone authorities and the UN country team in conducting damage assessment throughout the impacted region near the capital, Freetown.


International development secretary Priti Patel said: “I am deeply saddened by the devastating landslides and flooding in Freetown, Sierra Leone which have claimed innocent lives.


“We have pre-positioned vital aid supplies and helped prepare the country’s response to disasters.

She added: “We are already working with the government of Sierra Leone to coordinate the rescue efforts and are ready to provide further assistance to those in need.”

The Red Cross estimated 3,000 people have been left homeless by the disaster, with the figure expected to rise, while communications, access to drinkable water and electricity have also been affected.

Charity Action Aid launched a humanitarian response today, delivering life-saving aid to the West Africa country.

Zynab Kamara, ActionAid’s, senior emergencies response manager, said: ““The landslide is huge in scale. In nearly a decade of working on humanitarian response I’ve never witnessed anything so tragic. 

“I saw children clambering over the rubble and mud, desperately calling for their parents. So many people were trapped, trying to reach their loved ones.”

It started in Regent, on Mount Sugar Loaf and rolled across three other communities “burying everything in its path,” Kamara said.

“It swept people’s crops and livelihoods away, leaving them with nothing,” she added. Flooding has “wreaked havoc” in Sierra Leone in the recent past, the UN noted.

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