While most families devastated by Ebola have received humanitarian
aid, at least 1,400 children orphaned by the epidemic urgently need
support, according to Street Child.
The world's worst outbreak of the disease - now officially over -
killed more than 11,300 people and infected some 28,600 as it swept
through Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea from 2013.
"Teenage orphans have taken on the burden of looking after their
young siblings and are struggling to cope," Street Child's chief
executive officer Tom Dannatt said in a statement.
"Several have dropped out of school, sacrificing their own futures
to try and make sure that their brothers and sisters can stay in
education," Dannatt added. "Sadly, running a business and a
household is proving too tough for many of them."
Some 3.5 million people - more than half of Sierra Leone's
population of six million - do not have enough safe and nutritious
food to eat, the World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) said last month.
Food shortages in most of the country are caused by problems that
predate the Ebola outbreak, according to the U.N. food agencies,
which said the number of people "severely" affected by a lack of
food has increased by 60 percent since 2010.
The shortages, which have seen the price of a bag of rice more than
double since 2014, have hit orphans, teenage mothers and
child-headed households the hardest, Street Child said.
The Ebola epidemic left more than 12,000 children orphaned while at
least 18,000 teenage girls became pregnant during the outbreak,
according to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA).
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"A collapsed economy that is no longer propped up by the aid given
during and immediately after Ebola means that life is very hard for
everyone," Dannatt said, adding that more people may go hungry and
more girls may be forced to sell sex to afford food.
(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit
the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson
Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking,
corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)
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