United Methodist Committee on Relief

Responding to Mudslides in Sierra Leone

By Bella DiFilippo*

On Monday, August 14, 2017, Sierra Leone experienced torrential rain, triggering a series of heavy floods and mudslides in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. Today, hospital officials say the death toll has reached nearly 500, however, there are still 600 people missing. Rescue workers continue to recover bodies from the muddy rubble.

Sierra Leone’s Office of National Security (ONS) estimates more than 3,000 people have lost their homes. The government is currently evaluating the needs of families who are now internally displaced. There is grave concern another mudslide or flood is likely to occur, as more rain is predicted in Sierra Leone’s forecast. The government is urging impacted families to evacuate the area and calling on international aid for emergency support.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is in contact with our United Methodist partners in Sierra Leone. On Friday, August 18, 2017, UMCOR dispersed a $10,000 emergency grant to The United Methodist Church in Sierra Leone. We will continue to explore the options for responding to this tragedy.

UMCOR cannot do the work it does without the care and support of its donors. Help us spread awareness about the families surviving through this difficult crisis. Partner with us by giving to Advance #982450 to support our response to international disasters.

Please join us in praying for the families who have been devastated by this tragedy.

*Bella DiFilippo is program area liaison from Mission Engagement for Global Ministries.

UMCOR Update on Sierra Leone 

Friday, September 15, 2017: Housing: The government of Sierra Leone has established two temporary living settlements for the survivors of the mudslide who are now displaced. The tents being used at these temporary settlements are unsafe and insecure because there are no doors to safeguard occupants. The living space is inadequate as at least three families live in one tent. Overcrowded living conditions and inadequate water and sanitation facilities increase the chances of a cholera outbreak and other communicable diseases by 80 percent.

Food and Non-Food Items: The supply of food and non-food items is ongoing with the help of various organizations. 

In Juba, a camp for internally displaced persons, most of the items donated by partner organization do not benefit lactating mothers or children (under the age of five). Items like diapers and baby food are scarce. There is a high probability for malnutrition among children living in camps like Juba.

Emergency Medical Services: The United Methodist Church has established two epicenters for emergency treatments at the Pentagon and Kamayama communities. To provide services more effectively, The United Methodist Church collaborated with the Catholic Mission for one month. Survivors have been relocated to Juba, but there are still challenges as no organizations are providing medical services for the camp.

Children: Schools have reopened in the area, however many children have not been able to go back to school because of lack of access to reopened schools. There is also an inadequate supply of school materials.

UMCOR Support:U: UMCOR provided funds for an initial assessment of need and for emergency provision of food. UMCOR will be airlifting hygiene kits and bedding supplies. UMCOR is working with a regional supplier to provide more secure tents, improved water filters, and water containers. UMCOR has received a completed grant application, which once approved, will provide more food rations, non-food items, and emergency medication. Like any other disaster, it will be a long journey towards recovery, but UMCOR is committed to the long haul. 

To support UMCOR’s work in international disaster response, give to Advance #982450.

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