Sierra Leone, our hearts and prayers are with you!

Date: 17 August 2017

Sierra Leone

As the World YMCA is thinking these days of Sierra Leone, below is an important message from the African Alliance of YMCAs:

Devastation has hit West Africa in the aftermath of floods and mudslides, which occurred on Monday, 13 August 2017 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The country’s impoverished areas are mostly affected as many people, living close to the sea level and on the hilly areas, make their homes in these parts.

It is reported that as many as over 200 people are suspected to have lost their lives. The painful task of retrieving bodies from the mud and wreckage is still an ongoing process with families, community members, and humanitarian workers working together. Television images from the Sierra Leone national broadcasting networks capture sad images and scenes of people digging through the mud to recover the lifeless bodies of their loved ones. This is indeed an overwhelming situation the country faces yet again. Further reports indicate military personnel are assisting in the rescue and retrieval operations currently ongoing.

The socio-economic challenges prevalent in Freetown establish desperate situations where homes in these areas are built despite the non-feasibility of the natural environment. This means that natural elements, like torrential rain and mudslides, are an added threat to already unsafe circumstances. Other factors increasing the risk of disaster are poorly and illegally constructed homes. These prevailing conditions worsen an already risky set of conditions as people simply seek to ensure they have a dwelling – place to call home. A basic human need.

YMCA Sierra Leone expresses alarm and grave concern at the torrential rainfall. Reporting that many people are destitute, homes are destroyed and lives are lost. Images taken show water levels as high as the rooftops of some structures. A mere two years ago, Sierra Leone in 2015, was faced with the displacement of thousands of people with terrible damage and many deaths due to flooding. During this time, the country was also travailing through the Ebola outbreak.

In the face of yet another calamity, our heartfelt prayers and thoughts are with the people of Sierra Leone.