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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid