International Activity Report 2012
MSF in Lebanon, 2012
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Many of the 200,000 Syrians who had sought refuge in Lebanon by the end of 2012 were unable to access the healthcare they needed. Some 63 percent of unregistered refugees had received no assistance whatsoever, according to the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières
(MSF) study Misery Beyond the War Zone, conducted at the end of 2012. The survey revealed a marked deterioration in the humanitarian situation for refugees and other displaced people in Lebanon, in large part due to very lengthy registration delays. Refugees in Lebanon are not entitled to formal assistance if they are not registered or at least enrolled in the registration process. Many live in overcrowded, substandard structures and cannot afford medical care. Local organizations and individuals within the Lebanese community have made a tremendous effort to help, but they are reaching the limits of their capacity. The situation worsened in July, when the Lebanese government announced that a lack of funds was forcing it to stop financing refugees’ medical care.
Assisting refugees in the Bekaa valley
MSF offered basic healthcare and mental health services in the north and east of the country. Teams worked at six health facilities in the Bekaa valley. In November, as needs grew and winter loomed, MSF distributed blankets and heating fuel as well as hygiene and cooking kits, and baby milk and nappies to thousands of refugees in the Bekaa valley. In Aarsal, staff provided mental health support until the end of December.
Expanding activities in Tripoli
An MSF team began working in Tripoli in February. Staff at Dar Al-Zahra hospital provided basic healthcare, as well as treatment for chronic diseases and mental health services. In April, a mental health team started work at Tripoli government hospital, and in June MSF began to support the hospital’s emergency department by training medical staff. Since November, MSF has been offering basic health services for vulnerable people in the poorest and most volatile neighborhoods of the city. MSF had been running a mental health program in Wadi Khaled, but since many refugees left the town and moved to Tripoli, it was closed in September.
Assisting Palestinian refugees
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees are living long-term in overcrowded camps in Lebanon. Ein el-Hilweh, in Sidon (Saïda), is the most crowded, and the population has grown with the arrival of
Palestinian refugees from Syria. MSF provided mental health services in two UN clinics and in Al-Nidaa Al-Insani hospital. Since March, services have also been available outside the Palestinian camp in Sidon, in the Palestinian Red Crescent
Society hospital and in Sidon government hospital, primarily to vulnerable Lebanese and Palestinian refugees living in unofficial gatherings outside the camp. Mental health services at Burj el-Barajneh, in the suburbs of Beirut, which included psychiatric and psychological care, were handed over to the municipality and to the Islamic Health Society in December. Staff had worked at the MSF community mental health centre, the UN clinic, the Palestinian
Red Crescent hospital, and carried out home visits since 2009. More than 17,500 consultations were held over four years. MSF also coordinated a primary trauma care course for emergency doctors and nurses throughout the country. More than 150 doctors were trained in various regions.
Sami *, 31-year-old Syrian man, Bekaa valley
We fled Syria under shelling, with only the clothes we were wearing. My two nephews were both killed, and my sister-in-law was wounded. We are now renting a flat in Baalbeck. We have only a mat and a few mattresses. It’s cold, we need fuel for heating, and we don’t have money to pay the rent. I cannot find work. It is the first time I have come to the MSF clinic. My wife is six months pregnant. She is feeling some pain, but the doctor has reassured us that everything is going well. He also examined my mother and gave her the drugs she needs for her hypertension and ulcer. My wife was refused a consultation at a local clinic because we are not yet registered as refugees. We were told to go to Al-Marj, 50 kilometers from Baalbeck. We are 10 people – can you imagine me taking all of them so far for registration, in the cold, in their state of health?
*The man’s name has been changed.
At the end of 2012 MSF had 81 staff in Lebanon. MSF has been working in the country since 1976.