Death toll rises from Freetown mudslides

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At least 500 people, including 150 children, have died in the floods and landslides in Freetown, with hundreds more missing. The scale and trauma of the disaster that took place in the capital of Sierra Leone on August 14 is becoming clear.

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Nearly 6,000 Freetown residents have been directly affected and more than 800 have been reported missing. With a presence in Sierra Leone for the past 21 years, Handicap International is on the ground, providing critical support.

Our team is helping to identify and record casualties as well develop an emergency response plan. As part of this response, HI is coordinating the provision of psychological first-aid to people who have lost their homes and loved ones, as well as physical rehabilitation for those with injuries.

HI teams are training groups responding to the disaster to help them identify vulnerable people who may need specific assistance. We know that people with disabilities, older people, and other marginalized groups can face difficulties in the days and weeks following a crisis. This can include difficulties accessing humanitarian assistance such as food, water, and shelter. Our colleagues are there, making sure that no one is left on the sidelines.

Our teams are also evaluating the immediate and longer-term needs of 400 of the worst affected households. It may be necessary to provide support with school materials and fees to ensure that children do not drop out of school, or to take additional measures to protect vulnerable orphans and young women from the risk of exploitation and abuse. 

HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL IN SIERRA LEONE

Since 1996, Handicap International's Sierra Leone team has promoted the mainstream schooling of children with disabilities. In 2016, we played an active role in combating the Ebola epidemic, which killed some 4,000 people and infected nearly 15,000 others, by organizing transport for patients to health centers. More about our work in Sierra Leone.