Children orphaned by Ebola face long-term consequences – Part 2

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Jeffrey Brown has more on the growing number of orphans in West Africa and how aid agencies are dealing with that crisis.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And I'm joined by Sarah Crowe, chief of communications crisis for UNICEF. She returned recently from a six-week trip to Liberia.

    Can you give us an interview — overview first? How big and widespread a problem is this now?

  • SARAH CROWE, UNICEF:

    Well, it is an extraordinary problem.

    We're seeing every few weeks of course the number of Ebola case are doubling, which means that the numbers of orphans are going to increase as well, because those who are falling ill and dying from Ebola are people of childbearing age. We estimate at the moment there are 4,000-plus orphans, and this is probably only the tip of the iceberg in the three affected countries.

    So it's really testing us, throwing new challenges at us that we have never had to face before.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    I assume the biggest problem is just fear itself, right, fear of the disease and then fear of the children because they're coming from where the disease has been.

    How difficult is it to place them with their own families, larger extended families or in other kinds of facilities?

  • SARAH CROWE:

    Well, every few days, our country's offices in all three countries are getting stories and information about children who are simply abandoned.

    The case just recently this week of a child-headed household, a 15-year-old taking care of her brother and sister, because they were left under a tree to fend for themselves because family had shunned them — so, in those cases, what we have to do is to find emergency foster care.

    The good news is, some 600 children in the past few weeks in Liberia alone have been placed with foster care. And survivors or those who have been through this terrible ordeal of having the disease and being able to then care and nurture children are the best form. They're able to give children the kind of care that nobody else could give because they know what it's like.

    So it — really, we're sprinting uphill all the time because this is an absolutely monumental battle. But there are protocols now in place which are being followed by many of our partners. And, of course, we're working very closely with government and all our partners, but it's not quite enough yet.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Let me just ask you briefly, finally, we're talking about the immediate concerns. What about if you're able to think about the longer-term effect here of lack of education for the children, health concerns going out, psychological long-term effects? What are the worries there?

  • SARAH CROWE:

    Well, Ebola has eroded every single aspect of life. It has impacted on children's health. They're not getting the routine immunization they need. Pregnant women are not getting the support they need. Children are not going to school. The problems and the needs are outpacing everyone's ability to be able to respond fast enough.

    But we're sprinting against time.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Sarah Crowe of UNICEF, thank you so much.

  • SARAH CROWE:

    Thank you.

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