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Last Monday, 14 August, a mudslide swept through hillside communities in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The slopes of Mount Sugar Loaf above Freetown have suffered years of deforestation. That, coupled with recent heavy rains, sent the mudslide speeding down the mountain.
Initial reports estimated that 300 people had been killed, that number has risen to 500 one week later, and is likely to rise further again as the search for the missing continues.
One of our staff at the Trócaire office in Freetown, Al Haji Jalloh (pictured below with his sisters), is from one of the communities affected. 15 members of his family lost their lives.
Trócaire is doing what it can to meet the immediate needs of the people worst affected by the mudslide.
We have begun distributing ‘dignity kits’, which include basic hygiene products such as soap, towels, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand sanitiser, sanitary towels, and underwear, as well as household items including a plastic bucket, kettle, torch and plastic plates and cups.
Many thousands of people have lost not only all of their possessions, but also their homes. It is estimated that 20,000 people have been displaced by the event, 5,000 of whom are children. Camps for the internally displaced have been set up to house them until a more permanent solution can be organised.
There are also growing fears that there may be a cholera outbreak as water points are likely to have been contaminated.
We will continue to monitor the situation, and work with our partners to assist those who have lost everything because of this tragic event.