(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) A severe shortfall in international support has left many Syrian refugees in Lebanon unable to access crucial medical care, according to a new report by Amnesty International Wednesday.
The human rights group warned that the situation is so desperate that in some cases refugees have resorted to returning to Syria to receive the treatment they need.
The report: "Agonizing Choices: Syrian refugees in need of health care in Lebanon," identifies some serious gaps in the level of medical services available to refugees.
In some cases Syrian refugees, including those requiring emergency treatment, have been turned away from hospitals.
"Hospital treatment and more specialized care for Syrian refugees in Lebanon is woefully insufficient, with the situation exacerbated by a massive shortage of international funding. Syrian refugees in Lebanon are suffering as a direct result of the international community's shameful failure to fully fund the UN relief programme in Lebanon," said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Thematic Issues at Amnesty International.
The UN has appealed for USD 1.7 billion for Lebanon in 2014, as part of a USD 4.2 billion UN appeal for Syrian refugees, yet only a pitiful 17 percent of the funds have so far been secured.
The health system in Lebanon is highly privatized and expensive, leaving many refugees reliant on care subsidized by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.
However, due to a shortage of funds it has been forced to introduce a restrictive set of eligibility criteria for people in need of hospital treatment.
Even when refugees meet the tight criteria, most must pay 25 percent of the costs themselves.
Syrian refugees suffering from serious health conditions requiring hospital care or more complicated treatments often go untreated.
"Both the UN and refugees are facing agonizing choices," said Gaughran.
Many Syrian refugees living with cancer and other long-term illnesses are also unable to afford expensive treatments they require in Lebanon.
An increasing number of families face crippling debts due to mounting medical costs.
The report stressed the need that: "It's time for the international community to recognize the consequences of its failure to provide adequate assistance to refugees from the conflict in Syria." Meanwhile, Amnesty International recognizes that the influx of refugees has placed an overwhelming strain on Lebanon's resources, including health services.
However, it is also calling on the government to adopt a long- term strategy for coping with health care needs for the Syrian refugee population.
Lebanon is overburdened and under- resourced to sufficiently deal with the ever-growing Syrian refugee crisis.
There are currently more than one million registered refugees from Syria in Lebanon.
The number is expected to reach 1.5 million by the end of 2014 - which would be equivalent to a third of the country's pre-Syria war population.