UMC Liberia Human Rights Monitor Initiates Tracking Process for Ebola Orphans
As the threat about “children trafficking” grows in Liberia, the Human Rights Monitor of the United Methodist Church in Liberia has launched a campaign to track all the children who were made orphans as a result of the Ebola crisis. According to Jefferson knight, director of the UMC Liberia Human Rights Monitor, the Ebola-orphans are at risk because some of them are with other relatives who cannot afford to take care of them and the only thing that they will do is to give the children to other people under the pretense of adoption. “Our concerns for the children have increased since the government of Liberia does not have in place any mechanism to take care of them,” Knight lamented.
Caring for over 65 Ebola-orphans at the UMC Liberia Gorlu Care Center in Lofa County northern Liberia, the Human Rights Monitor boss said it has already tracked over 150 children who are now living with their relations and are at risk of trafficking and probable sale to adoption institutions because their relations lacked what it takes to make life better for them. “The Gorlue Care Center is solely geared towards meeting the sheltering, food, and comfort needs including education and health of these Ebola affected kids since its establishment in 2014” Knight added. He indicated that the situation facing the Ebola-orphans is of major concern to the United Methodist Church in Liberia and its partners overseas.
Recently several local newspapers indicated that over 80,000 Liberian children including Ebola-orphans are at risk for trafficking. Captioned “Trafficking Nightmare: 70,000 Kids At Risk” a local newspaper alleges that more Liberian children run the risk of being traffic out of Liberia when proper government mechanism is not put in place to protect them. The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in another newspapers is quoted as saying that thousands of Liberian children born during the Ebola crisis could be exploited because of the lack of proper birth registration records.
In its July 31, 2015 Press release, UNICEF Liberia said children who have not been registered at birth officially don’t exist and without citizenship, children in Liberia, who have already experienced terrible suffering because of Ebola, risk marginalization because they may be unable to access basic health and social services, obtain identity documents, and will be in danger of being trafficked or illegally adopted.
When contacted the leadership of the Ebola Survival Association of Liberia (ESAL) expressed similar fear concerning the Ebola-orphans in Liberia. “The children are not properly care for or monitor to avoid such thing as trafficking,” Jerald Dennis spokesperson of ESAL said. He also indicated that what is happening to all the Ebola Survivals including ebola-orphans is more than just stigmatization; our welfare is becoming less important to the government. “Though we were given some food ration by some local non-governmental organizations and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), that assistance ceased long time ago,” Dennis asserted, adding the Ebola-orphans who are living with relatives are the ones at risk right now.”
Meanwhile the director of the UMC Liberia Human Rights Monitor Jefferson Knight is calling on the leadership of the church at home and abroad to exert all efforts in making sure that ebola-orphans are properly accounted for in their areas of ministry throughout Liberia, especially the Ebola affected areas. “The task is enormous, but we need to do our best in helping the children out of this risky situation, Knight affirmed.
Already some local churches, especially the St. John United Methodist Church in Spring Field, Virginia USA is partnering with the UMC Liberia Lofa River District to care for over 65 ebola-orphans since the Ebola outbreak and the establishment of the Gorlu Care Center in Gorlu, Lofa County northern Liberia. Other areas that benefited from the UMC Liberia Human Right Monitor are the Kakata-Farmington River District in Margibi County and the Taylorta Community in Bong County. “All that we have done in these communities is to provide protection and health monitoring for the Ebola-orphans,” Knight concluded.