The gravity and scale of the crisis of Ebola-affected children continues to grow – despite glimmers of longer term hope.
In Sierra Leone, Street Child has now registered over 7,500 cases, and we expect to reach 10,000 later this month. We have also registered close to 2,000 orphans in Liberia, a figure which is certainly only the tip of the iceberg. Our latest projection, as reported in the Evening Standard last week, is that there are over 30,000 children who have been made destitute by Ebola.
Moreover, despite these huge numbers, Street Child remains the only major on the ground charity caring for orphans. Whilst Street Child aims to deliver its 10,000th orphan aid package this month, as brilliantly described by Street Child’s JMK in a unique first-person article in the Guardian this week, despite the presence of almost every major humanitarian charity in the region, we are unaware of any other charity who has delivered material aid to even 1,000 orphans.
This is a horrific situation. These children have lost everything. Street Child is trying very hard but is not a huge organisation. We are doing as much as we can but we do not have, and are not receiving, the funds needed to help these numbers of children.
The ray of light is that the situation is that some future funding is being pledged for these children. Following on from Sir Bob Geldof’s pledge that a proportion of Band Aid 30 funds would be for orphans, the British Government this week announced a £2.5m grant to UNICEF for worst-affected children .
Street Child welcomes both these announcements and is hopeful that we will be asked to deliver portions of these projects – both Sir Bob in the Sunday Mirror & Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Development, speaking in the House of Commons this week, have praised Street Child’s work for orphans and our current appeal with the Sunday Mirror. However, we are very aware that these commitments will take time to translate into cash and action on the ground – but the crisis for orphans is not a future event, it is a disaster right now.
Which is why this morning, Street Child’s Chloe Brett, in an interview on Sky News after her recent trip to Liberia, laid bare the situation very clearly – help pledged for the future is great but children are miserable and seriously hungry right now: Street Child is urgently asking the anyone who can, to give what they can now, so we can give as much as possible to children who urgently need it this Christmas time.
You can hear more from Chloe about her trip to Liberia last week by clicking here for an interview she gave to BBC World Service – focusing on the haunting experience of visiting a village ‘with no mothers’: Ebola had taken then all away . . .