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Sierra Leone

Faced with the spread of the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone which began in spring 2014, Handicap International arranged the transportation of patients to screening and treatment centres. The organisation also worked to ensure that awareness raising messages reached the most vulnerable groups of people.

Inclusive school in Sierra Leone - Handicap International

© Federico Saracini / Handicap International

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When the Ebola epidemic hit Sierra Leone, Handicap International opted to maintain its presence in the country, so that it could continue to provide its expertise in emergency humanitarian operations and protection of the most vulnerable people.

Until the end of the epidemic, in March 2016, the organisation managed a fleet of ambulances covering the entire Freetown region (the country’s capital). At the height of the epidemic, more than 200 people were working on this project. After Sierra Leone was declared Ebola free, Handicap International supported the survivors through specific rehabilitation care to alleviate their chronic pains.

Since then, Handicap International has resumed its activities in the areas of mother and child health and inclusive education, with a focus on the children affected by the Ebola epidemic.

The organisation has been working in Sierra Leone since 1996. Our first projects were launched to support the victims of one of the most brutal wars in Africa’s recent history, which left thousands of child soldiers traumatised and around 20,000 people maimed as a result of attacks. Handicap International fits them with prosthetic limbs (artificial legs and arms) and offers psychological support. 

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African States against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas
© HI
Explosive weapons

African States against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas

From 27th to 28th November, Handicap International (HI) is organising a regional conference on the bombing of civilians. The Conference will take place in Maputo, Mozambique and aims to bring together some 20 States, 10 African civil society organisations and international NGOs. The goal is to raise awareness of this vital challenge among African countries and to encourage them to take action on the world stage to protect civilians from the devastating impact of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

Handicap International helps victims as death toll from Freetown mudslides rises
© Handicap International

Handicap International helps victims as death toll from Freetown mudslides rises

At least 500 people were killed by floods and landslides that hit the Sierra Leonean capital, Freetown, on Monday 14th August. A further 800 people have been reported missing. Handicap International (HI) and our partners in the region have launched an emergency response to support people in need.

Saving lives through Ebola awareness
(c) Molly Feltner / Handicap International
Health Prevention

Saving lives through Ebola awareness

At the start of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, many people with disabilities did not know about Ebola because the national public awareness campaign did not share information in formats they could understand.

Handicap International, present in Sierra Leone since 1996, stepped in to ensure people with different kinds of disabilities knew how to prevent the disease. 


The rapid spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone triggered a humanitarian crisis on a massive scale.

During the spring of 2014, Sierra Leone was one of the countries most badly affected by the Ebola epidemic. The virus infected more than 14,000 people in Sierra Leone, of whom around 4,000 have died (according to the World Health Organisation). The country was declared Ebola-free in the spring of 2016.

Despite its extensive natural resources and huge potential for agricultural development, Sierra Leone remains one of the world’s poorest countries. The people of Sierra Leone are attempting to rebuild their country following the devastation of a war that raged from 1991 to 2000, leaving thousands of people maimed by the loss of an arm or leg. The psychological suffering inflicted by such violence is still strikingly evident even today.

More than half the population live in extreme poverty, and the Ebola epidemic has further exacerbated this situation.

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