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Sierra Leone: Red Cross appeals for global support

As the full horror of Monday's flooding and mudslide disaster in the Sierra Leone capital Freetown emerges, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has issued an urgent appeal for global support.

Speaking at a joint press briefing with the Sierra Leone Permanent Mission in Geneva, IFRC Secretary General Elhadj As Sy said:

"We still have hope to find survivors but the chances are getting smaller every day.

"While we are still in the critical emergency phase of the response, we also have to start anticipating the long-term needs of families who have lost their homes and livelihoods. We will need to accompany them."

More than 400 people were killed and more than 600 are still missing after torrential rain triggered deadly mudslides that wiped out entire communities in the Racecourse, Regent and Lumley areas of Freetown. An estimated 1,600 families have been affected and need humanitarian assistance.

The IFRC appeal seeks a little over 4.6 million Swiss francs to help 4,600 people in the aftermath of the disaster and to support their long-term recovery needs.

"The appeal will allow us to scale-up and sustain our operations," said Mr Sy. "The urgent needs are around shelter, safe water, food and re-establishing proper sanitation to avoid any risk of disease spreading."

Red Cross volunteers and staff have been at the forefront of the response, carrying out search and rescue operations, giving first aid to survivors and comforting the bereaved.

"With the Sierra Leone Red Cross we were in the country before the disaster, and we will still be there long after. This allowed us to respond quickly, and it means we can accompany communities on their road to recovery," Mr Sy said.

Distributed by APO on behalf of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
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