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Syrians lack medical care in Lebanon: Watchdog

Syrian refugees in Lebanon lack access to specialised medical care like dialysis and cancer treatment, forcing some to risk their lives to return to their war-ravaged country for health care, according to a report by Amnesty International released today.



Beirut: Syrian refugees in Lebanon lack access to specialised medical care like dialysis and cancer treatment, forcing some to risk their lives to return to their war-ravaged country for health care, according to a report by Amnesty International released today.

Amnesty said tens of thousands of Syrians lack access to hospital treatment in Lebanon, leaving their chronic conditions and serious illnesses untreated.

The crisis is due to a lack of funding for medical care for Syrians who fled to neighbouring Lebanon, where health care is privatised and expensive, Amnesty said. Some ill Syrians simply have been turned away.

More than 1 million Syrians have fled to Lebanon since the revolt against President Bashar Assad erupted in March 2011. Lebanon, a nation of 4.5 million people, has been struggling to cope with the refugees.

The United Nations refugee agency subsidises health care for Syrian refugees, but dwindling resources has forced the UNHCR to prioritise primary health care services and treatment of life-threatening illness.

Some privately funded hospitals offer health care to the Syrians and there are also several charity clinics, but it has not been enough.

Audrey Gaughran, an Amnesty official, said Syrian refugees in Lebanon are suffering as "a direct result of the international community`s shameful failure to fully fund the UN relief program."

The UN has appealed for USD 1.7 billion for Lebanon in 2014, and has received only a fraction of the funds needed to help the refugees.

Amnesty based its report on interviews with refugees, doctors and other health professionals.

One refugee, named Amal, told Amnesty she travels twice a week to Syria for dialysis, which she cannot afford in Lebanon. She travels by land and passes through areas where fighting between Assad`s forces and rebels trying to overthrow him is still raging.

"I feel afraid to go to Syria, but I have no choice," she told Amnesty.

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