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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid