Sierra Leone is a country once more in need of urgent humanitarian assistance following the devastating floods that have taken hundreds of lives, and destroyed many more. It is unfair to say that the UK government has had little to say on the devastating loss of life, as claimed in the Guardian on Thursday.
As when Ebola took hold of Sierra Leone, the UK was among the first to respond to this emergency. British personnel were at the scene within just hours of the landslide to help coordinate the response. Two world-leading British humanitarian experts have also been deployed from the UK to provide specialist advice and expertise to help with response efforts and ensure our work has the greatest impact.
Today, the UK has shown its global leadership by announcing a new emergency £5m package of vital humanitarian aid. After carefully assessing the situation and working with the government of Sierra Leone to see what was needed, we are providing clean water, food and medicines to assist people in the communities worst affected.
This funding will go directly towards UK charities working tirelessly on the ground, such as Street Child. Through UK aid, the charity will be able to provide for the emergency needs of 4,000 children, including clothing and bedding.
This tragedy comes shortly after the Ebola crisis which Sierra Leone has worked so hard to recover from. Britain was at the forefront in tackling that deadly disease and we remain shoulder to shoulder with Sierra Leone after this week’s tragic events.
By pre-positioning critical supplies such as food and medicine, as well as providing training on emergency operations, the UK has enabled the government of Sierra Leone to respond quickly.
The UK alone cannot be left to help those who have lost everything. The international community and the international development community, much of which is also funded by UK taxpayers, must follow our lead and step up to the plate. We will continue to stand with the Sierra Leonean people, and support them in the aftermath of this disaster.