BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Ministry moves to contain scabies outbreak among refugees

This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian refugees filling their buckets at Atmeh refugee camp, in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, Syria, Friday, April 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center AMC)

BEIRUT: The Social Affairs Ministry Thursday moved to address health concerns among Syrian refugees in Lebanon, as a local NGO urged authorities to establish refugee camps.

The ministry was responding to requests for help by local authorities in Dinnieh to deal with a scabies outbreak among the refugee population.

Ministry officials distributed medicine to refugees to help them treat scabies and lice, with the supplies handed out in cooperation with the Municipality of Asoun, whose mayor Mutasem Abdel-Qader had complained about the appearance of the disease.

In the south, meanwhile, the Italian agency AVSI handed out hygiene kits and blankets to residents of a makeshift refugee camp between Marjayoun and the village of Ibl al-Saqi.

In Beirut, the Association for Human and Humanitarian Rights told a news conference that camps were needed for the “unprecedented” number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Melkar Khoury and Wael Kheir, speaking on behalf of the NGO, said they objected to the government’s use of the word “displaced” to describe Syrians in Lebanon, arguing it represented a bid to evade responsibility for caring for refugees.

The NGO said it supported the establishment of refugee camps run by the government, complaining that a growing number of municipalities have enacted measures such as nighttime curfews for Syrians.

“The least that can be said about such measures is that they are illegal, racist, and are not effective,” Khoury said.

The NGO dismissed fears by the public that Syrian refugees would become “permanent guests” in Lebanon, as in the case of Palestinians.

“Syrian refugees are citizens of an existing state, recognized by the international community, and when the conditions are right they can return. This is contrary to the Palestinians, who do not have a state, yet, to return to,” Khoury said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 19, 2013, on page 4.

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