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

Russia's 'V-Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

Critics say Soviet-style display of power, nationalism don't recognize tragic scars of warfare that still influence politics, fighting in Ukraine More

Tensions Simmer in Hong Kong in Lead Up to Vote

Many Hong Kong citizen say if the reform plan will be a step back for the pro-democracy movement if passed More

Multimedia Obama Calls for New Commitment to Help Minority Youths Succeed

President introduces My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, foundation supporting better education and job prospects 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.
Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalistsi
X
May 04, 2015 3:32 PM
Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs