Sierra Leone: Civil Unrest – Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA), DREF Operation No. MDRSL012 – Sierra Leone


A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Since early July 2022, Freetown has suffered a series of strikes accompanied by civil unrest which has precipitated a humanitarian crisis affecting populations in many parts of the country. On August 8-9, 2022, an organized group of civilians exploited on social media platforms by unknown Sierra Leoneans inside and outside Sierra Leone called for action at home across the country. On August 10, 2022, citizens took to the streets of the cities of Freetown, Waterloo, Makeni and Kamakwei to demonstrate against the government of Sierra Leone for unemployment, economic hardship and injustice, demanding reductions in fuel prices, a economic relief for families in debt, fair justice. prices of agricultural products, employment and labor rights, security and protection. Thousands of people rallied across the country, blocking roads and major supply routes. Although the mobilizations started peacefully in the eastern part of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, the situation quickly deteriorated. A confrontation between security forces and protesters across the country has led to an increase in the number of casualties. The deadly engagement began with tear gas canisters, which were followed by live ammunition as the situation deteriorated further in less than three hours. Regulatory measures were imposed in an attempt to control the crowd, including a curfew. Authorities arrested and detained some of the protesters and carried out searches and restrictions on the internet and social media. A cross-section of the population has been affected, with a high fatality rate reported among young people.

On August 13, 2022, the protest spread to three more neighborhoods and more than five cities with more than 20 concentration points and roadblocks. As a result of these protests, damage to public and private property and people detained and injured were reported by the media and social networks. Additionally, in the case of Shell, Kissy, Wellington and the town of Calaba in the Western Rural District, protesters burned down police stations and other government property, killed security guards and attacked public figures. key policies in these places. The Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency and imposed a nationwide curfew from 3 p.m. to 7 a.m. that day, which was later revised from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. in due to serious internal disturbances.

According to a rapid assessment of the SLRCS situation, it is estimated that approximately 458,133 people are affected nationally, corresponding to those participating in the protests as well as in the immediate vicinity, who have been exposed to violence with potential trauma and impact beyond physical injury. According to data provided by the National Security Bureau, more than 34 people were injured, 30 dead (including 3 police officers) and many people detained in different regions of the country.

The public health system in rural areas of the country is also severely disrupted, reducing access to medical services, especially for people with low incomes and access difficulties. According to the Nova Scotia Branch Response Teams, there is clear evidence of injuries to many people that have not been documented by anyone, and these people are currently in hiding for fear of being arrested by the police. police, although they are in severe pain from gunshot wounds. .

This category of victims and those admitted need various forms of immediate support such as hygiene kits and unconditional money to meet other needs now and upon discharge from the public hospital. In addition, the majority of those who lost their lives are breadwinners and left behind wives and children who need food and some form of livelihood support. Victims under treatment at government hospitals in Connaught, Rokupa, Makeni and Kamakwei are in immediate need of blood, psychological and psychosocial support and family tracing for some of the victims who died before burial.

Sierra Leone has nine months until the next presidential and parliamentary elections. Recently, a mid-term census was conducted in the country, the result of which will inform the delimitation of borders for the next elections. The main opposition party and other parties openly rejected the census results. More protests and violence are expected to be associated with the electoral process, ranging from relays, campaigns, presidential debates and polls. A preparedness effort is needed to support a rapid response to victims of unforeseen riots.

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