Christian Aid is working alongside other non-governmental agencies in Sierra Leone to coordinate its response to the flooding and mudslides that have killed nearly 400 people in the capital city, Freetown.
Christian Aid’s programme team in Sierra Leone have been urgently assessing the needs of communities, after heavy seasonal rains triggered a deluge of mud and debris in the city’s Regent neighbourhood.
An estimated 3,000 people have lost their homes, while at least 600 individuals are still missing, according to authorities. Rescue efforts are continuing.
Christian Aid’s Acting Head of Humanitarian Michael Mosselmans, said: “We are extremely saddened by the devastation, loss of life and suffering caused by the mudslide in Freetown. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragedy.
“All of our Christian Aid colleagues in the city are safe, and have been accounted for. They are now putting all their energies into assessing the needs, so that help can get to all those who are now homeless and have no access to food, clean water, medical assistance, sanitation supplies and shelter.
“Our partners are in place and poised to provide critical support to victims. We have been in contact with the START Network and other START agencies in Sierra Leone to assess what rapid funding is available and to coordinate our response. We are now planning next steps."
The START Network is a consortium of 42 leading NGOs (including Christian Aid), who work together to strengthen the humanitarian aid system with rapid support where necessary, particularly through its START Fund.
Christian Aid jointly initiated a START Alert yesterday morning, alongside the following organisations: Action Against Hunger; ActionAid; CAFOD; GOAL; Handicap International; International Rescue Committee; Oxfam; Plan International; Save the Children; Tearfund and Welthungerhilfe.
The Network will decide, within 48 hours of receiving the 'alert', whether to release the rapid funds for a multi-agency 45-day response that will target some of the most vulnerable people affected.
If agreed, this response would include provision of safe water (to mitigate the risk of water-borne diseases), food, shelter, essential personal and household items, psychosocial support, and assistance with reuniting separated families.
The START Fund was launched in 2014 with contributions from the UK Government’s Department for International Development, Irish Aid and latterly the Dutch government.