23 May 2014

A  report by Amnesty International, published this week, shows that many refugees from Syria in Lebanon are unable to access crucial medical care. Amnesty stresses that many people, including those requiring emergency treatment, are either left untreated, incur debts to be able to pay for the treatment or attempt very dangerous journeys to Syria to seek treatment.

Many refugees fleeing the crisis have serious health care needs due to, amongst other things, pre-existing chronic conditions and injuries suffered during the conflict, but when arriving in Lebanon they are met with an extremely privatised and expensive health system in which services available to refugees are limited and difficult to access, Amnesty states.Refugees in Lebanon have to rely on care subsidized by UNHCR, but due to the poor response of the international community to a UN appeal, UNHCR has been forced to introduce restrictive eligibility criteria for people in need of hospital treatment. Refugees who meet these criteria still need to pay 25 per cent of the treatment.

“Syrian refugees in Lebanon are suffering as a direct result of the international community’s shameful failure to fully fund the UN relief programme in Lebanon,” stated Audrey Gaughran from Amnesty International.

Arif, a 12-year-old, who had suffered severe burns on his legs, is one of many refugees who was denied hospital treatment and who did not qualify for subsidized care under UNHCR’s new guidelines, causing his condition to deteriorate.  Amnesty International urges countries to fulfil the humanitarian appeal for Syria and to step up efforts to offer resettlement and humanitarian admission places for the most vulnerable of refugees, including those in need of medical treatment.

Through a campaign by ECRE, Amnesty International and over 100 other organisations, individuals can also call on their government to act now to give refugees a safe way into Europe, by significantly increasing resettlement places above and beyond current national quotas and offering other forms of admission through embassies in Syria’s neighbouring countries

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 23 May 2014.
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