UNICEF Says Ebola Turning Thousands Of Children In To Orphans

There are at least 3,700 children in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea that have either lost one or both parents since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa began according to initial estimates by UNICEF. What is more tragic is that many of the surviving children are being rejected by relatives who are afraid of being infected by the virus.

Children are being abandoned

Manuel Fontaine of UNICEF says that the thousands of children who have lost parents or family members as a result of Ebola urgently need special attention. Many of these children are either unwanted or worse, abandoned. Usually orphans are adopted by a member of the extended family, however the fear of being infected has meant that family ties are being ignored.

Number of orphan children could double

As the Ebola death toll continues to escalate, the initial reports from West Africa indicate that over the last few weeks, the number of Ebola orphaned children has spiked and the number is expected to double.  The disease is levying a heavy emotional toll on children who suffer when either they or their parents have to be isolated in order to receive treatment. As it intensifies its response to the Ebola outbreak, UNICEF is looking at both new and traditional methods of providing children with the emotional and physical healing they need.

  • UNICEF is working with the Liberian government to train 400 extra social and mental health workers. The agency is also working with local authorities in the countries that have been affected to help strengthen community and family support offered to children that have been impacted by the disease, and provide care to orphan kids who have been rejected by their communities.
  • In Sierra Leone over the next 6 months, more than 2,500 Ebola survivors who now have immunity to the disease will receive training on how to provide support and care to children that have been quarantined in treatment centres.
  • UNICEF will be providing psychosocial support to 60,000 vulnerable children and families in Ebola affected communities in Guinea.

UNICEF needs more money

Mr. Fontaine says that Ebola has turned the human instinct of comforting a sick child into what could be a death sentence. This means the vast majority of children that have been affected by the disease are left without adequate care and the usual methods of responding to a crisis of this scale and nature are unsuitable and we need more resources. UNICEF wants US$ 200 million so that it can offer emergency assistance to families and children that have been affected by the outbreak of this disease across the region. Currently UNICEF has only received less than 25 per cent of the amount the agency says it needs to provide an effective response.

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