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Ministers announce assistance for victims of floods and mudslides in Sierra Leone


Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D., and Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Ciarán Cannon T.D., today expressed solidarity with those affected by floods and mudslides in Sierra Leone.   

Hundreds are believed to have died as a result of severe mudslides, triggered by heavy rains, which have hit communities on the outskirts of the Sierra Leonean capital, Freetown. While numbers of casualties have not been verified yet, at least 3,000 people are believed to have lost their homes and are in immediate need of emergency assistance and shelter.

Minister Coveney said:

I am deeply saddened by the deaths and destruction caused by the flooding and mudslides in Sierra Leone and extend my condolences to the people and Government of Sierra Leone. Through our Embassy in Freetown, we are liaising closely with our partners on the ground, including the Sierra Leonean Government, to ensure an effective and urgent response to this disaster.  Ireland's pre-positioned funds with NGO and UN partners are available for use to meet the needs of those affected.

I am pleased that a crisis alert of over €400,000 has already issued from the Start Fund to provide funding to NGOs to react on the ground.  We are working with the Government of Sierra Leone through our Embassy in Freetown, as well as with our other partners on the ground, to assess how best to provide further support to those affected by the tragedy. I expect to announce additional funding from our bilateral programme in Sierra Leone in the coming days.” 

The Start Fund is a humanitarian pooled fund which enables NGOs to access emergency funding in order to quickly respond to emergencies such as landslides or localised flooding. Ireland allocated €1.3 million to the Start Fund earlier this week. 

Last year, through its Embassy in Freetown, Ireland provided €6.64 million in bilateral development assistance through the UN and NGO partners in Sierra Leone.

Minister of State Cannon added:

My thoughts are with the families and communities affected by the mudslides. Ireland has actively engaged with Sierra Leone since the end of the conflict there in 2002. We have a strong history of support to the country, including during the Ebola crisis, and our UN, Red Cross and NGO partners on the ground are again working to assist those affected by this week’s events.”



Notes to editors:

  • Irish Aid is the Government’s overseas assistance programme. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. For further information see   
  • Severe mudslides – triggered by three days of heavy rains – occurred on 14 August on the outskirts of Freetown. Response teams have been recovering people from the mud and debris, helping evacuate residents, transferring bodies to morgues and providing medical care to the injured.
  • The number of fatalities is still unknown, but current estimates- still unverified- are of 312 dead, 3,000 displaced and 15,000 affected. A number of NGOs funded by Ireland work in Sierra Leone and are assessing how best to respond. Rain is expected to continue over the next few weeks, leaving affected populations vulnerable to further hazards. A key concern currently is to prevent a cholera outbreak.
  • The Start Fund - a humanitarian pooled fund that allows NGOs to access emergency funding in order to quickly respond to emergencies – has issued a Crisis Alert for Sierra Leone for £400,000 to target 5,000 people. The Start Fund is a humanitarian pooled fund established to enable NGOs to access emergency funding in order to quickly respond to emergencies such as landslides or localised flooding, and to facilitate much earlier and faster decision-making. It is supported by the UK, Netherlands, EU and Ireland. Start funding is available to all of the Start Network’s 42 NGO members and their implementing partners. Ireland has provided a total of €2.6 million to the Start Fund since 2013 and allocated an additional €1.3 million to the Start Fund earlier this week.
  • The International Federation for the Red Cross, a key partner for Ireland, has released more than 270,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to bolster initial search and rescue and recovery efforts. These emergency funds will enable volunteers to assist more than 9,000 people with search and rescue, first aid, health care, water, sanitation and hygiene promotion and emergency food. Ireland provided €1.1m to this fund last year.
  • Sierra Leone is one of Ireland’s Key Partner Countries. Our development programme with Sierra Leone is aligned with the priorities of the Sierra Leone Government’s Ebola recovery and transition plans, while maintaining a focus on longer term governance and development priorities which remain crucial for the country.