On 18 August 2017, children stand outside the child friendly space at the temporary displacement centre in Regent community, Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone. The child friendly space in Regent opened on 18 August and gives children affected by the mudslide a safe place to play, under the care of trained counsellors.
FREETOWN/DAKAR/NEW YORK/HONG KONG, 17 August 2017 – UNICEF is on the ground urgently responding to the needs of displaced families affected by the flooding and landslides in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown which have killed several hundred people including at least 109 children, according to government sources. The death-toll is expected to rise, with over 600 people, including many children, still unaccounted for.
“The scale of the damage is unprecedented,” said UNICEF Representative Hamid El-Bashir Ibrahim. “Children have been left homeless, vulnerable and terrified. We must do all we can to protect them from disease and exploitation.”
Since Monday when the disaster struck the country, UNICEF teams have been responding to the needs of the large numbers of children and families affected, particularly by providing safe drinking water and sanitation, and delivering supplies including medicines, tents and gloves following the Government’s request for support. UNICEF is also offering psycho-social support to those traumatized by the events.
With many water sources contaminated and damage to water supply networks, water storage tanks are being set-up to supply those displaced. UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and partners to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases.
The Government of Sierra Leone has been leading the response in the 13 separate affected communities – with the worst hit being the area of Regent where a massive landslide swept away homes. Sierra Leone’s Office of National Security (ONS) estimates that more than 3,000 people have lost their homes.