Ebola orphans rejected by extended families

UNICEF says many orphans in Ebola-stricken countries are being rejected by their surviving relatives.

Liberian nurses carry the body of a suspected victim of Ebola at the Sonuwein community in Monrovia, Liberia, 3 October 2014. Picture: EPA/Ahmed Jallanzo.

JOHANNESBURG - Concerns have been raised that more than 4,000 children have been orphaned by the Ebola epidemic.

There are still some people who are not getting treatment for the haemorrhagic disease, which has killed nearly 5,000 people in West Africa.

In Liberia, where there are an estimated 2,000 children left without parents, orphanages are full.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says many orphans in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are being rejected by their surviving relatives.

In an area that's no stranger to death and disease, the children are normally taken in by extended families.

But with the fear of Ebola trumping family ties, all bets are off.

Ebola treatment centres in the three most affected countries are overwhelmed.

Swamped healthcare services mean treatable diseases like Malaria, Tuberculosis and Cholera are gaining a foothold.