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Sierra Leone: Assistance in Freetown

04-03-1998 News Release 98/09

Shortly after the clashes in Freetown had ended on 14 February, relief workers from the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society reported that in the fighting and looting some 500 houses had been destroyed, leaving around 6,000 people homeless. Last week, ICRC delegates and National Society volunteers started providing them with food, kitchen utensils, plastic sheeting, blankets and hygiene items.

The ICRC also resumed food distributions to various public institutions in the city, including hospitals, orphanages, children's feeding centres and old-age homes. At present, a total of 7,500 people in 65 different facilities are receiving such aid.

In addition, the ICRC is preparing to provide food for some 20,000 Sierra Leoneans displaced from the interior of the country and around 5,000 destitute Liberian refugees, all of them within the Freetown peninsula.

ICRC medical teams resumed their support for around a dozen clinics throughout the capital offering free health care and medicines to the inhabitants; medical supplies were also distributed to the city's maternity hospital, Wilberforce military hospital (which also treats civilians), and the clinic at Freetown's Central Prison.

Delegates are currently visiting more than 1,000 persons detained in connection with the recent clashes and held at Central Prison, registering new detainees and distributing material assistance, mainly hygiene articles.