Sierra Leone: ‘60 people have died in one church community alone’ says Tearfund Country Director

A national emergency has been called in Sierra Leone after heavy rainfall in the Regent area, a mountainous town 15 miles east of Freetown, caused severe flooding and significant landslides. At least a hundred houses were hit when a hillside in Regent collapsed in the early hours of Monday 14 August.  It is thought to be the worst flooding in Africa for the past two decades. At present, 312 people are reported to have died and and at least 2,000 people have lost their homes, with several thousand still missing. Rainfall is forecast for the coming days.

Tearfund has worked in Sierra Leone since the 1990s and currently works through four local partners in Sierra Leone.  We are currently liaising with them to assess the most urgent needs and plan how best to respond.

Gaston Slanwa, Tearfund’s Country Representative for Sierra Leone, is based in Freetown and said, ‘I drove around Freetown yesterday and saw several houses had disappeared, roads completely gone. On one bridge I saw two people who were already dead being pulled out of the water then put in the ambulance right before my eyes. In just one of the church communities we work through, 60 people have died and 300 have lost their homes.  We are working closely with all our partners 24/7 to understand how best to support them, as well as liaising with the government and other agencies to carry out needs assessments and co-ordinate our response.

We have seen a great outpouring of love. Hundreds of people are welcoming those fleeing the landslide into their own houses, and we are looking at opening schools and church buildings to help those who are now homeless. Our priority will be to ensure people are adequately cared for, with food, clean water, mattresses, blankets, clothing and medication.

Please pray for God’s comfort for the hundreds of families affected, for our church partners who are working tirelessly to help local community members and for improved access to allow us to reach those are cut off and in desperate need.’

If you would like to support Tearfund’s work both in Sierra Leone and around the world, please  go to http://www.tearfund.org/en/give/

Sarah Baldwin

 

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