STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF MINISTER OF SOCIAL WELFARE, GENDER AND CHILDREN’S AFFAIRS AT HOUSE OF LORDS DURING THE EBOLA ORPHAN CRISIS BRIEFING EVENT ON THURSDAY 6TH NOVEMBER, 2014.
Let me take this opportunity to bring you greetings on behalf of the Government and people of Sierra Leone. As you are all aware, the current Ebola epidemic is a national tragedy, most of all for those who contract it directly. However the impact of Ebola on life in Sierra Leone cuts across the whole of society and it is especially those who were already the most vulnerable, who are suffering the most. Of all those impacted by, but not necessarily infected by Ebola, no group is sadder than the Ebola orphans, the children left in a household with no breadwinner, or possibly no adult at all.
These children typically are left with absolutely nothing, no parent to care for them, no possessions as regards clothes or bedding, after the disinfection process is done. Their cases are truly tragic and their numbers are huge. With all the authorities predicting a massive rise in Ebola cases and thus deaths; we must also prepare ourselves for a correspondingly sharp rise in the numbers or orphans. As a Government, we must prepare ourselves not just for the 1,500 or 2,000 cases we face presently but even for 5,000 or 10,000 in the near future. We, however, pray it does not come to this point, so we must plan against this scenario.
The world has been late on so much of the Ebola crisis so far, but let us not be late for these children who need us to be there in their darkest hour – right away. So with this in mind, I want to thank Street Child, not just for the work they are already doing in supporting the Government in the care of 1,000 orphans, but their foresight in raising this alarm and bringing attention to this issue not just on the present situation, but on the scale of the things that might come.
The Government is doing all it can, but we are dependent on partners to make the difference too. We do not want to see more children on the streets when Ebola is done, especially after all the progress that has been made in the years since the war. We want these children, who have already lost too much, to have a chance in life too; it is the Mission of Government.
So to all of us who are gathered now at this event, politicians, media and especially donors, I want to plead with you to lend the maximum support you can to those organizations who are helping carry out the mission of Government in these dark days. Without urgent funds, thousands of children face imminent disaster. As a result,
I want to once again commend Street Child for this initiative, thank them for the support they are giving to Government and whole-heartedly commend them to you, on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone. They are doing urgent work as this is an urgent issue. Please do everything you can to support them and others like them, in these dark days for the children of our country.
I thank you all.