March 26, 2021, Freetown, Sierra Leone – A fire has ravaged a slum community in Sierra Leone's capital Freetown late Wednesday, displacing upwards of 5,000 residents.
The fire reportedly started as a stove fire that grew out of control. Some 500 households in the community, known as Susan's Bay, have been affected, including 700 children. A five-month-old baby is reportedly the only person to have died in the blaze. Twelve children, who temporarily took shelter at a Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone police, have been reunited with their parents.
“This is a heartbreaking tragedy that has taken away what little people already had in this community,” says Sophie Ndong, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Sierra Leone. “We are working with partners to provide immediate aid and psychological counselling for victims. We are assessing their needs and hope to offer more resources to help children and families.”
Children and their families are in urgent need of food, clean water, blankets and bedding, hygiene kits and learning materials.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) conditions in such slum communities in Freetown are appalling. The fire has worsened conditions in the remaining parts of Susan’s Bay, with concerns of disease outbreaks such as cholera, typhoid and even Covid-19.