Sierra Leone locals pledge to overcome devastating mudslide

Sierra Leone locals pledge to overcome devastating mudslide

Locals in Sierra Leone have shown a “huge desire” to overcome the tragedy of a mudslide and floods that left hundreds dead, according to Trócaire’s Sorcha Fennell.

The death toll has risen to almost 500, and over 600 people remain missing after last week’s massive mudslide – caused by heavy rains. It devastated multiple communities, with at least 10,000 people being forced to leave their homes.

Upon returning to Ireland from Sierra Leone, Ms Fennell, the Head of Trócaire in Central West and Southern Africa, told The Irish Catholic about the situation on the ground.24

“There is a lot of sadness, it’s an unprecedented tragedy, there’s a very heavy rainy season every year in Sierra Leone, but a tragedy on this scale hasn’t happened in the last few years, so there are communities there that are trying to come to terms with that,” she said. “And then at the same time I think that there’s a huge desire of people in Freetown and Sierra Leonne to overcome the tragedy.”

Trócaire is working with other Catholic Non-Government Organisations (NGO’s), including the Justice and Peace Commission in Freetown, to deal with the crisis, and are supplying ‘dignity kits’ to people who have been left without homes.

The focus is on women and children, who are particularly vulnerable. The kits contain soap, towels, sanitary items and basic non-food items such as plates.

There are also plans to set up information kiosks where information will be shared with local communities about the assistance available to them. There are additional services for those who have experienced violence.

“There is a great sense of sadness for the country, and for communities that are recovering from the ebola crisis only a couple of years ago,” Ms Fennel said.

“I suppose what struck me most the day after it happened was how quickly our partner organisations and staff wanted to respond. I suppose it’s the resilience and the eagerness of people to do what they can.”

Last Sunday churches across the country held special services to remember those who were killed, and the government has called for the evacuation of another 10,000 people living on an unstable hillside in Freetown.