Thousands of Ebola orphans shunned by relatives: UNICEF

By Ritu Singh | Last Updated: Sep 30, 2014, 21:49 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

Liberia: Ebola outbreak is emerging to be one of the biggest medical threats of 2014 affecting multiple countries in West Africa. Adding to that misery, it's the children who have to suffer the most.

UN children's fund has reported that at least 3,700 children in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone who have lost one or both parents to Ebola this year are being shunned.

The fear surrounding the deadly disease has become so intense that people have forgotten family ties and are continuing to outcast the orphans who need care and shelter.

Unicef said that Carers were urgently needed for these orphans. A basic human reaction like comforting a sick child has been turned "into a potential death sentence", it added.

“These children urgently need special attention and support; yet many of them feel unwanted and even abandoned, Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West & Central Africa further said.

The figure on the number of Ebola orphans follows a two-week assessment mission by the UN children's agency to the three countries worst-affected by the outbreak. An earlier version of this story said that 4,900 children had lost parents but the correct figure is 3,700.

It found that children as young as three or four years old were being orphaned by the disease. Children were discovered alone in the hospitals where their parents had died, or back in their communities where, if they were lucky, they were being fed by neighbours - but all other contact with them was being avoided.

UNICEF has appealed for $200 million (252 million euros) to provide emergency care to children affected by Ebola and their families