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Sierra Leone: a devastating fire in Freetown leaves thousands homeless and in shock

Sierra Leone

On the evening of 24 March 2021, a terrible fire burnt down the shanty town of Susan's Bay, in Freetown, capital city of Sierra Leone. Humanity & Inclusion (HI) is providing psychological support to the victims.

The shanty town of Susan's Bay, in Freetown, after the fire

The shanty town of Susan's Bay, in Freetown, after the fire | © HI

Following the devastating fire in the camp, Humanity & Inclusion’s (HI’s) teams immediately worked to help the victims, including many people with disabilities and families who were already benefiting from the organisation's projects.

Urgent aid

HI is providing  psychological support to people affected by the disaster and is coordinating the efforts of other NGOs who are also supporting with psychosocial sessions. These emergency psychological support sessions give people impacted by the fire a place to be listened to.People are able to speak openly about their experiences; this can be an important first step to help them overcome the shock or trauma.

HI also plans to help people with physical disabilities by  replacing their mobility aids that they have lost in the fire. The organisation will also help other NGOs to provide inclusive humanitarian assistance, suitable for  people with disabilities.

Evaluation of the needs

HI is involved with the National Disaster Management Agency in assessing humanitarian needs.8,000 people were affected by the fire, 400 of these  were injured. 254 houses have been completely destroyed. These families, already extremely poor, lost everything in the flames. For the time being, they have found refuge in schools or in tents.

140 people have been identified as having a disability.  At least 9 of them have lost their equipment. The HI team will visit these individuals to collect more information and analyse their specific needs.

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