Lebanon News

Health and housing concerns for UNHCR on Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees watch the convoy of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres as he visits Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria March 13, 2013. (REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed)

BEIRUT: Physical and mental health concerns, along with housing problems, highlighted the Friday weekly report on Syrian refugees in Lebanon by the UNHCR.

The U.N. body said it registered 12,000 people in the last week, highlighting a drop in waiting periods for registration, while municipalities and local actors reported over 6,300 newly arrived refugees during the same period.

Just over 400,000 Syrian refugees are being helped by the UNHCR – 262,000 people are registered, while another 140,000 are awaiting registration.

The report said that according to municipalities across the country, “the number of Syrian families who are unable to pay their rent is on the rise and ... more families are at an increased risk of being evicted from their current accommodation.”

The UNHCR said it would focus increasingly on helping host families carry out renovations, “in an attempt to ease tensions by investing in a solution that benefits both Lebanese and Syrian families.”

On the health front, outreach visits conducted by the UNHCR revealed 42 cases of Leishmania, a treatable skin ailment, in refugee communities in north Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley.

A number of cases of the disease were reported earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the International Medical Corps’ mental health unit provided a total of 1,119 clinical and social consultations in the last week, the report said.

UNICEF, for its part, provided “psychosocial support to 4,308 refugee boys and girls in the past two weeks.”

Citing serious funding problems and a steady increase in refugee numbers, the report said the UNHCR was reassessing its health care strategy. It said a scarcity of funding will reduce coverage of secondary health care. “The funding situation is so acute that even with these adjustments, an additional $20 million is needed,” the report added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 06, 2013, on page 2.




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