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Sierra Leone declares day of mourning, UN evaluates needs after deadly floods

President Ernest Bai Koroma

New York––– As Sierra Leone mourns the dead of over 400 people and 600 missing in action from an unprecedented mudslide, the United Nations on Tuesday said it is evaluating humanitarian needs for the country.

The UN pronouncement comes following deadly flooding and mudslide that devastated entire communities. The floods on Monday ravaged the country’s capital, killing more than 400 people and leaving several hundreds more missing.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, “Contingency plans are being put in place to mitigate any potential outbreak of waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhea.”

The UN country team in the country has mobilized and is “supporting national authorities in rescue operations, helping evacuate residents, providing medical assistance to the injured, registering survivors, and providing food rations, water and dignity kits to those affected,”Dujarric said.

The International Organization for Migration discharged $150,000 in emergency funds immediately following the flooding, he said.

Meanwhile, President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone issued a desperate appeal for help, saying the damage was “overwhelming us.”

The  President has declared a 7-day national mourning for mudslide victims. President Koroma made the announcement through national TV, the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday.

According to a release from the Office of the President, the national mourning was scheduled to start from Aug. 16 to Aug. 22, during which period all flags would be flown at half-mast.

“The President has further decided to invoke MAC-C (Military Aid to Civil Community) and to raise the national security threat level to level 3 in direct response to the unfolding emergency,” the press release maintained.

The government also urged bereaved families to continue to identify their fallen loved ones at the Connaught Hospital Mortuary between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

It said that unidentified corpses will received dignified burial at Waterloo between Aug. 17 and Aug. 18.

The released added that the government will continue to provide the public with regular updates on the situation in the country.

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Michael Harrington

Michael Harrington is a researcher and senior contributing reporter with Globe Afrique Media.

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