Children represent an unusually high proportion of people affected by the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), UNICEF said.
Two children have already died from the disease. The Ebola treatment centres in Beni and Mangina are currently treating six children that are infected by the disease or suspected to be. UNICEF has identified 53 orphaned children who have lost their parents to Ebola.
“The children affected by the ongoing epidemic need special attention and care,” said Dr. Gianfranco Rotigliano, UNICEF Representative in the DRC.
“Women are often the primary caregivers for children, so if they are infected with the disease, there is a greater risk that children and families become vulnerable.”
The UN children’s agency and its partners have trained 88 psychosocial workers to assist and comfort children in centers, and to support children who have been discharged as free from Ebola, but may still be at risk of stigmatization within the community. The psychosocial workers organize awareness-raising activities to facilitate the return of these children to their communities.
“The impact of the disease on children is not limited to those who have been infected or suspected,” said Rotigliano. “Many children are faced with the illness or death of their parents and loved ones, while some children have lost large parts of their families and become isolated. These children urgently need our support”.
The organization seeks and supports foster families for these children, and also provides them with psychosocial care and food assistance.