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Students put a poster that raises awareness about Ebola on the walls at La Vérité school in Butembo, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo on March 23, 2019.
© Vincent Tremeau/UNICEF

More Than 500 Children Have Died From Ebola in the Congo: Report

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More than 500 children have been killed by Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to figures released Tuesday.

The data, published by Save the Children, highlights that the number of cases affecting children has drastically increased in the last six months — fewer than 100 children died in the first six months of the outbreak, according to the organization.

The Ministry of Health reported that 507 children have died from the virus, with about 740 children being infected between Aug. 1, 2018, and Aug. 1, 2019, according to Save the Children.

Ebola-Congo-Children-Health-FullFrame.jpgAn Ebola survivor cares for a one week old child in an isolation tent at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, in the eastern DRC on Dec. 3, 2018.
Image: © Guy Hubbard/UNICEF

"This is another grim milestone in a crisis that is devastating children in its path, especially the youngest," Heather Kerr, country director for Save the Children in the DRC, said in a statement. "Roughly 40% of children who have contracted the disease are under the age of 5, and many of them have died."

Kerr also added that the impact on children is more than being infected by the virus, as many children have lost their parents to Ebola or have been separated from them because of it.

More than 2,100 children have become orphans or have been left on their own because of the Ebola outbreak, according to UNICEF and its partners.

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"The virus puts children at risk of being stigmatized, isolated, or abandoned, in addition to suffering the unbearable trauma of losing a loved one," she said. "Children who are on their own face the very real danger of abuse and exploitation, or of being recruited by armed groups. Children aren’t going to school because their parents have died and those taking care of them can’t afford the school fees, or because schools are closing due to insecurity."

Save the Children is just one of many organizations working to contain the current Ebola outbreak, which recently reached the city of Goma — an especially concerning development in the crisis, as the city is home to 2 million people and acts as a transport hub for Central Africa.

Through its community mobilization activities, Save the Children has reached 58,298 households and 245,234 people with information about Ebola prevention and detection.

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Aug. 1 marked the one-year anniversary of the Ebola outbreak in the DRC, which has now reached more than 2,700 cases and 1,800 deaths.

Violence in the impacted areas and mistrust of the health community has made tackling the outbreak even more difficult.

The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global health emergency on July 17, and international organizations have called for further support as the death toll continues to rise.

Ebola-Congo-Children-Health-DRC.jpgChildren have their temperature taken to help contain the spread of Ebola at the entrance to Goma, North Kivu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on Aug. 10, 2018.
Image: © Mark Naftalin/UNICEF