South Africa has pledged R8 million to assist Sierra Leone following deadly mudslides, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Wednesday.
“We are announcing an initial financial contribution of R8 million for humanitarian assistance through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). This contribution is for the provision of materials for temporary shelters, medical supplies and food aid,” said the Minister.
The WFP, which has the requisite expertise and experience to execute this function, is already on the ground in Sierra Leone.
Last week’s mudslides killed more than 300 people on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown while many others were left destitute.
Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday, Minister Nkoane Mashabane said the R8 million will not be the only contribution that South Africa is making.
Appeal for donations
“Accordingly, we would like to this take this opportunity to humbly make an appeal to the South African people, in their personal capacities and as members of organisations, to join the efforts to assist the sisterly people of Sierra Leone in this hour of need.”
The Minister said the public can make R10 donations by SMSing the word Relief to the number 38510. All SMS will be at the cost of R10.
Alternatively South Africans can support the efforts of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent who are already on the ground in Sierra Leone through the South African Red Cross Society.
People can make donations using the following banking details:
- Account name: The South African Red Cross
- Bank name: Standard Bank
- Account number: 001 35 5929
- Branch code: 051001
- Reference: Sierra Leone Relief
Meanwhile, Minister Nkoane Mashabane has called on corporate South Africa to assist.
She also thanked the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) who through its foundation has availed its radio, online and television platforms to publicise the donations drive.
“Our gratitude also go to MTN for assisting us at short notice to set up the facility to allow the public to make contributions. We call upon other corporates to get involved.”
Suspension of search and rescue operations
She further said that South Africa’s initial plan was to send a Search, Rescue and Recovery operation team under its Urban Search and Rescue team (USAR-South Africa). The team has a classified recognition status from the United Nation’s International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG).
“However on Tuesday President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, made a declaration suspending the search, rescue and recovery operation. This is due to difficulties and constraints relating to weather conditions and the state of bodies recovered.”
As a result of this the South African government would no longer dispatch a humanitarian response team.
Effects of climate change
The Minister said the disaster experienced by the West African country is an indication that effects of climate change come at a devastating cost.
“It is important to say that the disaster in Sierra Leone is yet another indication that the effects of climate change come at a devastating cost, and the international community must work collectively and with the requisite urgency to implement multilateral decisions agreed to. The cost of avoiding to take responsibility are very high, and the people in developing countries are mostly exposed to the catastrophic effects of climate change.”
The Minister told the briefing that President Koroma has made an appeal for urgent help to support the thousands of people affected by the disaster.