UNICEF seeks $200 mn to fight Ebola

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has said that it needs more than $200 million to respond to the Ebola virus disease outbreak that has claimed more than 2,400 lives in its death march across communities in West Africa.

IANS| Updated: Sep 17, 2014, 15:27 PM IST

United Nations: The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has said that it needs more than $200 million to respond to the Ebola virus disease outbreak that has claimed more than 2,400 lives in its death march across communities in West Africa.

This is part of a broader, six-month appeal for 987.8 million dollars that governments and humanitarian agencies require to fight the disease.

"Ebola is killing people and undermining futures," Xinhua quoted Afshan Khan, UNICEF director of emergency programmes, as saying Tuesday. "It is closing schools, destroying health systems and threatening the very fabric of communities. This is a crisis of enormous proportions."

Of the $200 million, nearly $65 million will go to UNICEF's programmes in Liberia, around $61 million to Sierra Leone, and more than $55 million to Guinea, the UN agency said.

An additional $10 million would help neighbouring countries be prepared for a potential spread of the disease within their borders, and the remaining $9 million was for regional coordination efforts, it added.

UNICEF estimates that $8.5 million and young people under the age of 20 live in Ebola-affected areas in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Of these, 2.5 million are under the age of five.

Since the first days of its outbreak in March, UNICEF has stepped up its response as Ebola continues its deadly spiral, including working with communities to raise awareness of the disease and providing essential hygiene supplies.

The children's agency, present in all affected countries, has been rushing in essential supplies and providing life-saving information in the heart of affected communities on how families can protect themselves.

"We need to work with communities," Khan said. "We can save lives now if every country, every agency that has the means to support, does so."

While the outbreak has now reached four countries -- Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone -- Liberia and Sierra Leone account for more than 60 percent of the deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.

The WHO said last week Ebola had killed more than 2,400 people out of 4,784 cases in West Africa.

So far, an estimated 2,000 children have lost their parents due to Ebola. UNICEF also said that many of these children were facing stigma and rejection in their communities as they were seen in their communities as a source of infection, bad luck and trouble.

To date, UNICEF, with support from the World Bank, has flown nearly 248 metric tonnes of supplies, including protection equipment, hygiene kits, oral rehydration salts and other emergency health supplies. The distribution of chlorine has been the biggest ever in UNICEF's history.