(AP/Manika Kamara)
Sierra Leone flood

Israel is sending aid to the African nation of Sierra Leone, which has been tragically hit by a natural disaster. 

Following a deadly mudslide on Monday in Sierra Leone, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs began to examine means of providing assistance to victims of the natural disaster.

The assistance will be provided by Israel’s embassy in Senegal, which is also affiliated with Sierra Leone, in accordance with immediate needs on the ground, including the provision of clean water, medicines, blankets and other basic provisions. The assistance is also being facilitated by the Africa Division of MASHAV – Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation.

The aid is being provided in accordance with instructions from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as Israel’s foreign minister, to extend assistance immediately and in every way possible.

Mudslides and torrential flooding killed more than 300 people in and around Sierra Leone’s capital early Monday following heavy rains, with many victims trapped in homes buried under tons of mud.

Survivors and volunteers dug through the mud and debris at times with their bare hands in a desperate search for missing relatives, and military personnel were deployed to help with the rescue operation in the West African nation.

Initial Red Cross estimates said as many as 3,000 people were left homeless by the disaster and that figure was expected to rise. Communications and electricity also were affected.

Many of the impoverished areas of Sierra Leone’s capital are close to sea level and have poor drainage systems, exacerbating flooding during the rainy season.

Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown also is plagued by the unregulated building of large residential houses in hilltop areas.

Deforestation for firewood and charcoal is another leading factor worsening the flooding and mudslides. Drainage channels also are often clogged because of garbage dumping due to insufficient sanitation services in many areas.

Israel has been cultivating closer relations with several West African countries including Sierra Leone. The country’s President Ernest Bai Koroma visited Israel in January.

By: United with Israel Staff