Lebanon denies Syrian refugees medical care for fear of deportation | Doctors Without Borders

Syrian refugees in Lebanon are finding it increasingly difficult to access vital health services due to reports of deportations and restrictions on their freedom of movement. Hateful remarks against refugees in the media and political discourse have created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, with many refraining from even essential medical care out of concern for their safety, patients said without borders. told the team of Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

The results have been particularly dire in the neglected area of ​​Arsal, an isolated town in northern Lebanon near the Syrian border, where MSF teams have been operating for more than a decade.

“Everyone is stressed, terrified and stuck at home,” said Farhat, a 75-year-old Syrian refugee who has been receiving treatment for diabetes at an MSF clinic in Arsal for nine years. rice field. basically what you need. “Farhat, like many refugees, fears that the authorities will arrest him and deport him from Lebanon. “They will not take me away, humiliate me, and then force me to leave the country. I am worried.”

Over the past two weeks, MSF teams have noticed an increase in missed appointments at clinics. It is reportedly due to patients’ fears of facing deportation when passing through checkpoints to reach medical facilities.

MSF teams also report that the climate of fear is affecting their ability to make emergency medical referrals to hospitals. Dr Marcelo Fernández, head of MSF’s delegation to Lebanon, said: “Some patients in urgent need of care refused to be referred to a hospital for fear of being deported. Because I knew,” he said.

Due to recent strict enforcement of refugee policies, many Syrians have their cars and motorcycles confiscated. After Lebanon’s economic crisis made taxis and public transport more expensive, these vehicles are often the only affordable means of transportation.

Mahmoud, 56, who is being treated for diabetes at an MSF clinic in Arsal, said: “I used to rely on motorcycles to get to the clinic, but recent regulations have banned the use of motorcycles. I have to go by car now because it is being done,” he said. foot. “Mahmoud is one of many patients who have struggled to come to the clinic for tests and to receive their medication.

“Vehicle confiscation has left many vulnerable people without a reliable means of transportation,” Dr Fernandez said. “This exacerbates the challenges facing people who already have limited resources and freedom of movement, further hindering their access to much-needed healthcare.”

Many Arsal residents live in poverty, with limited services and infrastructure in the area. Lebanese residents and refugees alike face significant challenges in accessing essential services within and outside the city.

“This situation is unsustainable,” says Dr. Marcelo. “No action should be taken at the expense of people’s health. The marginalized should receive timely medical care, regardless of their background or status.”

*Patient’s name has been changed to protect his identity.

About MSF in Lebanon:

MSF is an independent international medical humanitarian organization that provides free medical care to people in need without discrimination. MSF first started working in Lebanon in 1976 and its team has been working there without interruption since 2008.

MSF teams are now working in seven locations across Lebanon, providing free healthcare to vulnerable communities, including Lebanese citizens, refugees and migrant workers. MSF’s services include mental health care, sexual and reproductive care, pediatric care, vaccination and treatment of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes. With more than 700 staff in Lebanon, MSF teams conduct around 150,000 medical consultations each year.

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