An Amnesty International report released Wednesday details the atrocious conditions in which Syrian refugees in Lebanon find themselves, particularly those in need of urgent medical care. Access to health care is so insufficient that some refugees have to return to Syria to receive the treatment they need.
The report notes that two factors are fueling a major shortage of medical attention for Syrian refugees, many of which arrive in Lebanon with injuries sustained during attacks on their homes and others facing chronic diseases they had been treating in Syria. One is the Lebanese health care system, which is too small to accommodate the refugees. The other, larger problem is a significant lack of funding for United Nations humanitarian programs that would help the Lebanese health care system sustain the intake of refugees.
“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,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Thematic Issues at Amnesty International, in the article announcing the report. The United Nations has only been able to secure 17% of the funding it requested of the international community to help Syrian refugees out of the $1.7 billion it hoped to acquire internationally. The United States is pledging $4.2 billion.
In particular, the Amnesty report details the lives of some Syrian refugees that are forced to cross the border back into Syria or die. According to the report, “one Syrian refugee, Amal, has to make the journey back to Syria twice a week for kidney dialysis, which she cannot afford in Lebanon.” Others do not get treatment at all, like a child mentioned in the report whose legs were burned in Syria, but he was denied hospital care in Lebanon.
According to the BBC, more than one million Syrians have been exiled due to the civil war tearing their nation apart, creating a major crisis in Lebanon, where the Prime Minister said the high intake of refugees was “threatening the existence” of Lebanon itself.
The refugee crisis is increasingly worrisome as the war between Syrian forces under control of President Bashar al Assad and rebel forces that seek to topple him shows no signs of abating. An overnight missile strike Tuesday in northwest Marea, Syria, killed thirteen, while a similar strike in northern Azaz killed another ten within the past 24 hours. In 2013, 73,000 people are believed to have died during the war.