DOZENS of emaciated children on the brink of starvation, weighing less than two stone and too weak to get out of bed have been discovered in orphanages in Belarus, according to reports.
Shocking images of almost 100 children and young people – likened to Nazi camp victims – have sparked worldwide outrage and a police investigation in the capital Minsk.
The haunting pictures bring back memories of the 1990s Romanian orphanage crisis, when hundreds of children left to rot in the country’s decrepit institutions were adopted by kind-hearted Brits.
Several orphanage directors have been fired after the scandal was uncovered, with severely malnourished teenagers said to have spent years languishing in the homes.
But some insititutions claim the children’s frailty is caused by psychological problems and disabilities, reports The Guardian. Cherven orphanage director Ella Borisova said: “These children have never walked. They are constantly in bed. They don’t have muscles.
“Their legs are toothpicks covered with skin. “Such a child will never stand up and walk with or without enteral [special calorie-rich] nutrition.
“So, for our institution the fact that this child is clean, dry, fed and gets medical help in time is the most important thing.” Anna Gorchakova, director of a children’s hospice, said the severely ill children were being “treated as plants”.
Some teenagers weighed as little as 15kg (2st 5lb) and one 20-year-old was just 11.5kg. The shocking state of the orphans was discovered by a journalist invited to a charity football match raising money for the special high-calorie nutrition for the orphans, which can be fed directly into their stomachs with a tube.
The special food can only be bought by the homes if a doctor examines a child and prescribes it. Doctors blamed bureaucratic logjams and trouble raising funds, but officials claim that hospitals didn’t pay attention to the children, believing they had no future.