Ottawa, Gatineau residents mobilize after deadly mudslides in Sierra Leone
More than 300 confirmed dead, some 600 missing, Red Cross says
Ottawa and Gatineau residents with connections to Sierra Leone are mobilizing to help those affected by devastating mudslides in the West African country.
More than 300 people in Sierra Leone are confirmed dead and Red Cross officials say 600 more remain missing after a storm hit Monday.
"The condition in the county is very precarious," said Ibrahim Kamara of Gatineau.
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Originally from Freetown, Kamara has called Canada home for six years but remains in close contact with family and friends back home. He said he knows several people affected by the mudslides and has a cousin who's still missing.
The Red Cross estimates as many as 3,000 people have been left homeless, a figure that's expected to rise.
Answering call for help
Kamara has reached out to members of his community to help raise funds and collect supplies for those displaced. He's also connected with Sierra Leonean communities in Toronto and Montreal to coordinate efforts.
"In Freetown we only have one major hospital in the city," he said. "Help will be needed in the hospitals because that is where the emergency is."
"The [Sierra Leonean] government is trying but they don't have the capacity," he said.
Disaster follows Ebola crisis, civil war
Moses Batema, a member of the Sierra Leone Community Association Ottawa, said his organization is also deciding how best to help.
"When situations like this arise, like the last Ebola crisis for example, we do try to raise funds just to make sure we can contribute to some of the humanitarian and recovery efforts that are currently taking place," he said.
"Whatever international help we can get will be most welcome," said Batema. "From what we are seeing on social media and what we're hearing from family and friends, the government is doing a lot but it looks like they are overwhelmed at the moment."