There has been widespread media coverage of the devastating floods in Sierra Leone that have taken hundreds of lives, and destroyed many more.
Much of this has reflected the swift and effective action that the UK has taken to help the people of Sierra Leone.
It is incorrect, however, to say that the UK government has had little to say on the devastating loss of life, as claimed in the Guardian today.
In fact, the UK was among the first to respond to this emergency and at the heart of the crisis co-ordination. Within hours, UK personnel were able to assist at the scene and today we have announced an emergency £5 million package of vital humanitarian assistance, including support to:
- UNICEF to provide clean water and essential medicines for 5,000 people. UNICEF will also provide food, water and counselling for 1,500 children
- A group of NGOs, led by Oxfam, to provide clean water and sanitation facilities for 3,000 people, vital to stopping the spread of deadly diseases such as cholera
- UK charity Street Child to provide for the emergency needs of 4,000 children, including clothing and bedding
- Emergency funding to meet needs on the ground as they continue to evolve.
This comes on top of the support we have given to Sierra Leone to recover from the Ebola crisis in 2015. By pre-positioning critical supplies such as food and medicine, as well as providing training on emergency operations, we enabled the Government of Sierra Leone to respond quickly.
Two world-leading 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.
Secretary of State Priti Patel said:
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 today after these devastating events.
The UK was among the first to respond to this emergency, with personnel at the scene within just hours of the landslide to help co-ordinate the emergency response.
Our new support will provide basic life-saving supplies like food, water, shelter and clothing to people who have lost everything. The international community must follow our lead and step up to the plate.