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Explosion in Freetown: HI begins assisting victims


Emergency | Rehabilitation | Sierra Leone | PUBLISHED ON November 18th 2021
HI working to assist the victims of the explosion in Freetown in 2021.

HI working to assist the victims of the explosion in Freetown in 2021. | © Alimamy Bangura / HI

More than one hundred people were killed in an explosion in Sierra Leone, on 5 November. After assessing needs in the field, HI is moving on to the next stage of its actions in aid of the victims.

HI’s team has begun implementing actions in aid of the explosion victims. Centred on rehabilitation and psychosocial support, it will begin work in partnership with other organisations and the Freetown city authorities over the coming days. The activities launched by HI are made possible by support from the Start Network.

Rehabilitation activities and psychosocial support

Besides emergency care, victims of the explosion will need psychosocial support. When people experience a traumatic event on this scale, victims and their families need help to overcome their pain and the impact of the accident. “We plan to assist victims affected directly and indirectly by the disaster. Psychosocial support and rehabilitation care are among our main priorities. HI will help victims overcome the disaster and build their resilience,” says Pauline Ducos, HI’s director in Sierra Leone. “Social workers from our partner organisation will reach out to each victim and their family, listen to them and refer them to specialised services, if necessary.”

HI also plans to develop targeted rehabilitation activities. Burn victims risk developing muscle twitches and difficulties with movement. Physiotherapists in Sierra Leone do not have the medical expertise to care for serious burn victims.

HI’s work will therefore include:

  • Psychosocial activities: individual and group support; paying the wages of psychosocial staff members
  • Rehabilitation care for burn victims: physiotherapy sessions; patient follow-up; covering transport costs.
  • Training organised with health staff.

Assisting the most vulnerable

HI’s teams were working in Freetown when the explosion occurred and immediately set about evaluating needs in the field. The victims include at-risk groups such as children, older people, and people with chronic diseases.

Through its work, HI will provide support to some two hundred victims of the explosion, the families of the 144 people who died in the accident, and 1,172 indirectly affected members of the community along with some fifty health professionals.

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