News / Middle East

UN Cuts Aid in Lebanon, Profiteering on Rise

A Lebanese doctor checks a Syrian refugee at a mobile clinic for Doctors Without Borders, in the eastern Lebanese town of Marj near the border with Syria, May 20, 2013.
A Lebanese doctor checks a Syrian refugee at a mobile clinic for Doctors Without Borders, in the eastern Lebanese town of Marj near the border with Syria, May 20, 2013.
— A lack of funding is forcing United Nation agencies helping in Lebanon to cutback on assisting Syrian refugees. Medical subsidies are to be reduced and so too is food assistance. Meanwhile,  there are reports that Lebanese hospitals and shops contracted by the U.N. are profiteering.

Half-a-million Syrians have registered so far in Lebanon as refugees and relief agencies are fast running out of funds.

Lebanon does not have refugee camps, with most Syrian refugees living in rented accommodation while some live with friends and relatives.  The U.N. says the refugees live in these makeshift accommodations in 1,400 towns across Lebanon.

Despite the large number of Syrian refugees, only 26 percent of the U.N.’s needed funding in Lebanon has arrived. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is having to cutback on subsiding medical care.

“We have had to make a very painful choice of reducing the health care services to refugees from 85 to 75 percent of life saving operations only, and many refugees are finding it very, very expensive to cover the 25 percent. So we are doing our best to refer them to other agencies that are on the ground also working, doing their best to fill this gap,” said Dana Sleiman of the U.N.’s refugee agency.

But there are reports from refugees that hospitals have been over charging when they know the care is being paid for by the U.N.

One invoice seen by VOA for an appendix operation at a Beirut public hospital showed the U.N. being charged $1,000 for the surgery and the Syrian patient $400. The average cost for the surgery is about $500.

The U.N.’s Sleiman acknowledged there are problems.

“It is true that in many instances, a few instances let’s say, we have seen reports of people telling us that we are charged more than we are supposed to. These reports we take extremely seriously, we follow up on these reports. It is a very big operation. We have to, you know, we have to have faith at the end of the day,” said Sleiman.

But Rabe Bana of the Jesuit Refugee Service said profiteering off international donors is widespread.

“They are being overcharged. They charge the U.N. more. It is happening in many hospitals in the Bekaa and the Rafiq Hariri Hospital in Beirut,” said Bana.

Syrian refugees and aid workers said shop owners are also taking advantage.

The U.N.’s World Food Program has been giving each registered refugee $31 worth of food coupons a month, an amount that will be reduced to $27 in coming weeks partly because of a budgetary squeeze.

The vouchers can be used at shops that have contracted with the U.N., but store owners raise the prices for goods when they are used.

WFP’s William Barakat said the agency is trying to curb the corruption.

“There is misuse among the contracted shops, the WFP shops, all over Lebanon and particularly in the Bekaa.  We are monitoring our shops and whenever we identify similar cases, we warn the shops and after that we cancel the contract,” he said.

Barakat says seven stores in the Bekaa Valley recently lost their contracts.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: kalish from: where?
June 18, 2013 2:23 PM
lebanon has a ton of refugee camp what are you talking about, I saw them. there are 270 000 syrian living in those camps.... Please contact me I can give you some photos. This is an absolute scandal as nobody want to help them but everybody want to give them weapons.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid