The United Nations children's fund (UNICEF) has said that almost every child who has lost parents to Ebola is being cared for in their community and thus ruling out fears that many would be shunned by relatives and neighbors. The UNICEF estimates say that more than 16,000 children have lost at least one parent or main carer to the west African epidemic. But less than 3 percent have been placed outside family or community care which has appealed for $500 million to help Ebola victims and prevent fresh outbreaks as the Ebola epidemic abates.
The UNICEF said, "The outbreak has claimed almost 9,000 lives in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, leaving a similar number of children with just a single parent and some 3,600 orphaned. A further 3,800 have lost their main carer."
UNICEF regional director Manuel Fontaine said, "Since overcoming their initial fears and misconceptions about Ebola, families have been showing incredible support, providing care and protection for children whose parents have died. This shows the strength of kinship ties and the extraordinary resilience of communities at a time of great hardship. The outlook was particularly good in Guinea, where all 773 Guinean children who lost both parents had been placed with their extended families."
The UN agency warned in September, "Bereaved children risked being shunned, with the outbreak turning a basic human reaction like comforting a sick child into a potential death sentence." UNICEF spokeswoman Sarah Crowe said, "In October the African system of extended family and friends taking on orphans, particularly evident during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, had broken down with the onset of Ebola."
Andrew Brooks, UNICEF's regional head of child protection for west Africa, said, "The numbers kept climbing in terms of kids who lost their parents so we needed to put in place a strategy to provide immediate care for those kids. And we were worried, it's true. There was a lot of concern and the fear was very real. But the traditional reflex of families taking in orphaned children had endured, confounding the worst expectations that thousands of children would require center-based care."