Abou Faour: Aid to Syrian Refugees Suspended, Not Haltedإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Minister of Social Affairs Wael Abou Faour stated that the government did not discuss during its last session aid to Syrian refugees in Lebanon in light of reports that it decided to stop assistance to them, reported the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat on Sunday.
He told the daily: “The decision does not demand a halt to secondary healthcare, but it called for suspending them.
He explained that the suspension is aimed at finding a mechanism to prevent the exploitation of this aid.
He hoped that the efforts to reach this mechanism, through the help of Premier Najib Miqati, would be reached as soon as possible.
The head of the Higher Relief Council Ibrahim Bashir stressed: “The government has halted medical operations, but it has not stopped providing them with medicine and food.”
He noted that a large quantity of Syrians have started to head to Lebanon to undergo surgeries.
He revealed that 1,147 patients and wounded have benefitted from Lebanese medical assistance so far.
“Some patients can be treated in Syrian territories, but others are heading to Lebanon for surgeries, which have started to become a financial burden on us, especially during the difficult economic situation,” he added.
A million dollars in expenses are needed each month, which has forced the government to halt the aid, he said.
At first, the expenses amounted to USD100,000, but they gradually began to increase, Bashir told Asharq al-Awsat.
Spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Dana Suleiman stated that the government decision “will have severe repercussions” on Syrian refugees in Lebanon, saying that the commission will continue on covering the expenses of the humanitarian assistance to the refugees.
Miqati’s sources denied that the suspension was politically motivated.
The government suspended medical assistance to Syrian refugees in northern Lebanon pending negotiations with international agencies on supporting the Lebanese cabinet in guaranteeing the source of funding, Premier Najib Miqati’s circles said.
“Not a single international agency is helping the government in this burden,” they told As Safir newspaper published on Thursday.
Lebanon “decided to suspend the medical assistance temporarily pending the reorganization of the operation and the discussion with the international agencies on how to assist the government in guaranteeing the source of funding,” the sources said.
According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 26,900 Syrians are registered refugees in Lebanon, though activists say the actual number of displaced is much higher.
Scores of wounded Syrians -- most of them arriving from neighboring areas such as Homs -- have also sought medical treatment in the relative safety of north Lebanon.
Lebanon has opened its public hospitals to the refugees, including the wounded, providing free of charge medical care.