16,600 Ebola orphans taken in by families in West Africa

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Paynesville, Liberia. UNMEER/Martine Perret

The vast majority of children who have lost parents to the Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa have been taken in by families, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The agency says that 16,600 children have been orphaned by the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three countries worst hit by the deadly virus.

Daniel Dickinson reports.

UNICEF has been concerned about the stigma and fear that children who have been orphaned by Ebola would face in the three countries.

According to the agency, the number of children who have lost one or two parents to the disease has increased from about 7,000 last year to over 16,000 today.

UNICEF's Andrew Brooks who has visited the three West African countries affected by Ebola says while the stigma and fear have not completely disappeared, the bonds of kinship have proven to be strong.

"The resilience of the communities and the traditional reflexes of communities and neighbours and relatives to take in the children of parents when they die, has been really strong. And in fact, when I look at the figures, of that total of 16,600 it's only about 500 that we have had to provide care for in a temporary kind of a centre-based care."

Mr Brooks said the reopening of schools in Guinea and the planned re-opening in Liberia and Sierra Leone would help children return to some normalcy.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations

Duration: 1'08 "

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