Amnesty enraged by EU response to Syria refugees in Lebanon
Senior sources in the European Commission (EC) have confided that they are concerned about the latest shocking reports which revealed Syrian refugees in Lebanon being turned away from hospitals –— due to claims made by Amnesty International that the UN refugee programme is under-funded.
But the EU is not making plans to increase its aid contribution, despite being under fire from human rights groups who have scolded Brussels for putting aside only a contingency package of funds.
Over the weekend, an EC spokeswoman, told the Khaleej Times that she was “very concerned” about the main thrust of a disturbing report published by Amnesty International — which claimed that many Syrian refugees were being denied healthcare in Lebanon, and, in some cases, even returning to Syria for treatment. But financially speaking, the EU was providing enough humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
“Overall significant amount of support has been provided by the international community in the health sector in Lebanon” a senior source told Khaleej Times, “but it is clear that more needs to be done to support the Lebanese overstretched health system”.
The European Commission, however, was despondent about chides of being mean with its own humanitarian aid funding to help Syrian refugees, despite the 28 member state block contributing only slightly more than Germany ($136m). The response from the European Commission though has enraged Amnesty International which last week published a report directly attributing the cause of Syrian refugees being turned away by Lebanese hospitals to the UNHCR programme being under funded.”
“Lebanon and its neighbours cannot continue to shoulder the burden of the Syria refugee crisis while the international community shirks its responsibilities. Lebanon’s infrastructure, social and economic resources are severely strained by the influx of refugees” she said.
“This is not sustainable and cannot go on — more needs to urgently be done to assist Lebanon in coping with the crisis. The lack of adequate health care is one of many essential services that are lacking for refugees in Lebanon — who have fled unimaginable horrors in Syria. The number of resettlement pledges made by the EU and its Member States is pitiful” she added. UNHCR suggested that the issue was more about the speed of funds arriving, rather than the final figure.
“With 2.7 million Syrian refugees in the region, of whom more than a million are in Lebanon alone, the international support needs of this crisis are immense. And they grow daily. Funds are coming in, but the challenge is ensuring these funds come in fast enough to meet the needs” said Adrian Edwards.
The refugee agency admits though that there have been tragic cases of individuals being rejected for healthcare under a system which cruelly weeds out those with ‘non primary’ health concerns like cancer.
“The number of refugees with serious (and non-primary) medical needs, for example, like cancer is overwhelming the efforts of health providers in Lebanon to provide treatment” added Dan Dan McNorton of UNHCR.
“These types of treatments are expensive and difficult decisions have to be taken on what treatment can be supported. We and those we work with are doing all we can, but more funds are needed in order sustain the current levels of support that can be provided. Many refugees with serious medical conditions cannot be treated due to lack of funds”.
By Martin Jay