Via ReliefWeb, a report from the NGO Plan International: Young lives on lockdown: The impact of Ebola on children and communities in Liberia. The summary:
The Ebola outbreak is severely affecting the lives of children and young people in Liberia, and has left communities stretched to the limits, reveals new research from Plan International.
The research - Young lives on lockdown: The impact of Ebola on children and communities in Liberia - shows that the collapse of medical services, closure of schools, a rising number of orphans, loss of livelihood and food shortages have all compounded the current crisis into a humanitarian catastrophe.
More than 740 children, parents and community leaders took part in the study - one of the first to look at the whole picture of the impact Ebola is having on communities.
Damaging a generation
“Ebola is not just killing people indiscriminately, but it is damaging an entire generation and breaking apart the whole fabric of society in Liberia,” said Plan International CEO Nigel Chapman.
“Plan’s research clearly shows that the impacts of Ebola are widespread, interlinked and affecting the majority of the population in Liberia, touching every aspect of their lives. A much more comprehensive response is required to support Liberia and its people to win the battle against Ebola,” he added.
2 million children affected
More than 2 million children in Liberia have been directly or indirectly affected by Ebola.
Plan’s research shows that children are at greater risk of neglect, exploitation and emotional harm, particularly those who have been orphaned or have lost their carers.
“I am used to being cared for as a child, but I am caring for my young siblings and even for my father, as a mother, since I lost my mother to Ebola,” said a young girl from Nimba.
Sexual abuse and early marriage
There are concerns among communities that girls are facing a higher risk of sexual abuse and early marriage due to loss of education and poverty exacerbated by the disaster.
Additionally, children who have lost immediate family members are also being stigmatised. Communities say that some orphans and single-parent children are joining the already high number of street children in their fight for survival as they resort to begging.
“Because our parents don’t have money we are not eating well. Most of us eat once a day and the food is not even enough,” said a child from Montserrado.
Plan is on the ground fighting the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The response includes raising public awareness on how Ebola is transmitted, and preventive measures people can take to control the spread of the deadly disease.
Plan is also providing counselling for children affected by Ebola and is reaching out to orphans and vulnerable children by providing transit centres and eventually reuniting them with their relatives or foster families.