UN agencies supporting Sierra Leone relief efforts

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A child from the Regent community heavily affected by the deadly mudslide on Monday washes his hands at a temporary displacement centre. Photo: UNICEF/Sierra Leone/James

Relief efforts continue in Sierra Leone, where mudslides earlier this week killed more than 400 people, a quarter of them children.

The mudslides were triggered by torrential rain, wiping out entire communities around the capital, Freetown.

Ana Carmo has an update on how UN agencies and their partners are assisting.

The UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, said on Friday that it is deploying a seven-person disaster and assessment coordination mission to Sierra Leone.

Meanwhile, the UN team in the country continues to support relief operations underway, including helping with the evacuation of survivors, providing medical assistance to the injured and registering survivors.

The tragedy occurred at the height of the rainy season, and the World Health Organization (WHO) said people in the affected areas are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of cholera and other water-borne diseases.

Christian Lindmeier is a WHO spokesperson in Geneva.

“Flooding  creates breeding grounds for mosquitoes and can cause or, most likely, does cause,  an increase in malaria and other vector-borne diseases. Trauma is a major issue for those affected by the tragedy.  Hundreds of lives have been lost and many families displaced. Psycho-social support will be critical to help people manage the grief and loss they suffered as a result.”

Preventing the spread of disease is also a top priority for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

It has been providing emergency sanitation and safe drinking water to communities, including by harvesting rainwater and building latrines.

Ana Carmo, United Nations.

Duration: 1’13″

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