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We Need Help’: Sierra Leone Faces Hardship Amid Ukraine War


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Iyesatu Turay, who lives in a sprawling slum of corrugated-iron shacks in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown, says she doesn’t have enough food to feed her family.

Life is a struggle for many in the Kroo Bay slum, where pigs mingle with stray dogs in the debris-strewn alleys of the shantytown, which straddles an open sewer.

But war in faraway Ukraine has made life harder still. Fuel prices, as well as the prices of basics such as cooking oil and rice, have increased sharply in the West African nation recently.

“We need help,” said Turay, a 28-year-old mother of three, who explained that price hikes are hitting at the same time as regular power cuts and a patchy water supply.

“We are barely surviving on a single meal every late evening,” she told AFP. “No food, water and light.”

Diamond-rich Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world, still recovering from a brutal 1991-2002 civil war and the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola epidemic.

Warnings that the economic blowback of the war in Ukraine could hit poorer countries have already become a reality in the nation of 7.5 million people, where about 43 percent of the population live below $1.90 a day, according to the World Bank.

Russia, a major energy producer, is under stringent Western sanctions. Its invasion of Ukraine in February has sent oil prices soaring worldwide, with consumer inflation also rising rapidly.

Musa Sesay, a grocer in Freetown, told AFP all his suppliers had raised their prices.

“We are not responsible for the increase in prices, it’s a global problem,” he said.

A 50-kilogram bag of rice which recently cost the equivalent of about 27 euros ($29) now costs 32 euros ($35) — an increase of about 20 percent.

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