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Things are really bad on the ground. Just a few minutes’ walk from our office in Freetown the roads were impassable on the day of the mudslides. The mood of the city is very sombre, with many drawing comparisons to the 11 year civil war and the Ebola crisis.
We are working with our local partners to provide basic supplies to people, including soap, clothing and torches.
We are especially concerned for the welfare and safety of girls and women, who are the most vulnerable at this time. Many children have been made homeless and are in immediate need of shelter and protection.
Sunday night’s heavy rains have left over 400 people dead, including 109 children, in a large scale mudslide in Regent, 15 miles from Sierra Leone’s capital.
While rescue efforts are ongoing, it is expected that the number of people killed could rise to at least 600 in the coming days.
The morgue at Connaught hospital is overwhelmed with sheer volume of bodies and so a second hospital is now being used, mainly for body parts that have been collected.
In addition to this, at least 12 other communities were inundated with flooding, in the west and east of Freetown. At least 3,000 people have been left homeless, while hundreds of people are still missing.
Currently there is no designated place for displaced people to stay. People have had to find their own way, so responding to sheltering needs continues to be a problem.
— Trócaire (@trocaire) August 17, 2017
The crisis is compounded by the continued rainfall, the risk of further flooding and mudslides and the difficulties in accessing the affected area. The area has several rolling hills where people are squatting, many illegally. The infrastructure is very poor, and there is no housing regulation.
The thousands that are now homeless and have lost their families, face multiple risks. The risk of waterborne diseases is high, with cholera endemic in the country, and it is exacerbated by a poor health system.
This is another tragedy in Sierra Leone’s history. There is an overwhelming sadness but there is also a deep desire to overcome.
Find out more about our work in Sierra Leone.