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International community on the disaster in Sierra Leone

August 16, 2017

As Sierra Leone continues to grapple with aftershock of the flood and mudslide disaster that killed hundreds of residents in Freetown, players in the International community have sent out condolence messages to the government and people of the country and extended goodies to victims in Freetown.

In a statement, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, expressed her shock and profound sadness following the deadly mudslide and heavy flooding in Sierra Leone.

Secretary-General Scotland extended her condolences to the people and government of Sierra Leone and called on Commonwealth governments to aid the relief effort.

She said: “My heart goes out to the victims of this terrible disaster, which has ripped a community apart. Some have lost their home and everything they own, others have lost their closest loved ones. To all those affected: you are part of the Commonwealth family and we share in your pain and grief.

“I commend the rescue workers who, in hugely challenging conditions, are searching for survivors and undertaking the grim task of recovering bodies. I call on Commonwealth member states and partners to assist the Sierra Leone government in supporting those impacted, both now and in the weeks and months ahead.”

British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson expressed sympathy with Sierra Leone. Saying “I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life caused by the heavy flooding and landslides around the Freetown peninsula in Sierra Leone in the early hours of today.

“My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected at this horrific time. We are working with the Government of Sierra Leone to provide support where necessary,” he prayed.

Also, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, HUA Chunying, expressed deep condolences and sympathy to the Sierra Leonean government and people.

In her statement, HUA Chunying said China has recently suffered similar natural disasters such as the Jiuzhaigou earthquake, and, “We are sympathetic for the tragic disaster that occurred in Sierra Leone. We are relieved to learn that after the disaster happened, a number of local Chinese enterprises participated in the disaster relief operations and provided necessary rescue equipment. The Chinese government stands ready to provide further support and assistance should the Sierra Leone side deems appropriate. We also hope and firmly believe that under the leadership of the government headed by President Ernest Bai Koroma, the Sierra Leonean people will definitely overcome the disaster and rebuild their homes soon.

For the United Nations, they stated in their released that: “A series of landslides caused by heavy rain and flash floods on the outskirts of Freetown resulted in many casualties, leaving numerous families homeless, and hundreds of people still missing. The United Nations, is supporting the Government of Sierra Leone in coordinating a recovery response to the crisis by assessing the situation and providing a variety of help to those affected.

 Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Sunil Saigal stated, “The United Nations is deeply saddened by the loss of lives caused by the natural disaster and express sincere condolences to those affected. Many of those are in need of food, blankets, clothing and medical attention. This is an ongoing event and currently it is very difficult to provide numbers of deaths and causalities. We know there are significantly high number of households affected, and a great deal of casualties, but we expect these numbers to change as we proceed with the response.”

 Mr. Saigal added, “We have assessment teams out in 13 communities and recognise that flooding and mudslides require different responses. We are helping communities, especially women and children who are often most affected by natural disasters, by providing water and sanitation services, emergency food, dry rations and dignity kits. In terms of assessing the affected areas, we are using drones and satellite images to help provide mapping for further risk areas.”