Just outside the entrance to John F. Kennedy hospital, a group of Ebola survivors were singing hymns to celebrate their release. It would have been a joyful moment, if one could ignore the distressing scenes around them.
An enraged woman was hurling rocks at the hospital's steel gate, pounding the door and screaming hoarsely that her infant daughter must be released from the Ebola ward. The guards paid no attention to her.
Just metres away, two sick men with suspected Ebola infections were slumped in a crude shelter, waiting to be allowed into the Ebola treatment unit. One had been waiting for eight hours on Tuesday, after waiting several hours on Monday when the hospital refused to accept any new patients. He said his illness was rapidly spreading as he waited outside.
International aid workers took photos of the Ebola survivors, ignoring the shocking scenes at the hospital gate.
Despite months of worldwide media coverage, emergency meetings by the United Nations Security Council, multimillion-dollar donor pledges and a U.S. promise of 3,000 troops, the Ebola virus is still spreading faster than the relief effort. Deaths continue to rise at an exponential pace, and the global aid campaign is still grossly inadequate.
The number of Ebola deaths in West Africa has officially climbed to nearly 3,100 so far – including 1,830 deaths in Liberia – although those numbers are believed to be a vast underestimate. More than 6,500 Ebola cases have been recorded since the epidemic began earlier this year.
Children are among those who pay the heaviest price. A new report by Unicef concludes that at least 3,700 children have lost one or both of their parents since the Ebola outbreak began – and this number is expected to double by mid-October.
Many of these orphans have suffered a further rejection by their surviving relatives, who cut off contact with the children because of a fear of Ebola. "These children urgently need special attention and support, yet many feel unwanted and even abandoned," Manuel Fontaine, a Unicef regional director, said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Orphans are usually taken in by a member of the extended family, but in some communities the fear surrounding Ebola is becoming stronger than family ties."
The world needs to devote "far far more resources" to the Ebola crisis, Mr. Fontaine said. It's a common lament across the Ebola-afflicted countries, where patients are still dying unnecessarily because they are turned away at the gates of hospitals such as JFK in Monrovia.
A new Ebola treatment unit opened in Monrovia last week, and several more are urgently being constructed. But they are overwhelmed with new patients as soon as they open. And the relief effort is still starved of resources and workers.
Unicef has appealed for $200-million (U.S.) for emergency assistance for children and families in the Ebola zone, but has received only a quarter of the target. The UN's food agency, World Food Programme, has appealed for $92-million to help Ebola-hit countries, but has received less than half.
Even worse than the funding shortfall is the severe shortage of international aid agencies and foreign health workers in the crisis zone.
"I still find it ridiculous that the biggest epidemic of Ebola in human history is being dealt with mostly by one private [non-governmental organization]," said Joanne Liu, a Canadian who is international president of Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders), the biggest health agency in the Ebola zone.
"Everybody wants to fund us now," she said on Monday. "I'm going to tell you why: Because nobody wants to mobilize people, but they want to buy themselves a conscience."