Seeking Refuge and Peace of Mind
Providing Care for Syrian Refugees and Vulnerable Host-Communities in Lebanon
Eight years into the Syrian conflict, Lebanon remains at the forefront of one of the world’s most devastating humanitarian crises.
The country currently hosts more than 1 million registered Syrian refugees—as well as an unknown number of unregistered ones: This makes Lebanon a country with one of the highest number of refugees relative to population in the world.
Responding to the Syrian refugee crisis over a sustained period of time has put a strain on Lebanon’s supporting infrastructure, with healthcare services particularly affected. An under-resourced healthcare sector can result in high healthcare expenses that hit the most exposed—refugees and vulnerable Lebanese—the hardest.
Through our project Reducing Economic Barriers to Accessing Health Services in Lebanon (REBAHS), funded by the European Union Regional Trust Fund, known as the “Madad” fund, International Medical Corps is currently addressing these gaps and reducing the barriers to affordable and quality healthcare services throughout Lebanon. During the life of the project, more than 500,000 vulnerable individuals—including both refugee and Lebanese populations—will receive primary health and mental health services.
Our team recently met with Karma, 40, who fled war-ravaged Aleppo seven years ago, seeking safety and peace for herself and her family. She found refuge in Greater Beirut with her husband, Ahmad, 43 and three children: Yasser, 12, Houssam, 10, and Amer, 2.
“When we first came to Lebanon, we were looking for peace. Today, we are worried about the future,” Karma explained. “Our lives completely changed; my husband was an attorney at law in Syria, now he is working as a painter”, she added. “I am worried about him. He always seems tired and depressed, and when he feels upset, he gets very bad stomach pains”.
Following Karma’s expression of concern to our team about her husband, Ahmad was referred to International Medical Corps’ specialised Mental Health Case Management Team, where he remains in contact with one of our case managers.
Karma is understandably worried not only about her husband’s health but about the future of her family. She wants to provide education for her sons and ensure that they are healthy and cared for amid these precarious circumstances. She also hopes to find a job, to help her husband.
Whenever one of her children is sick or needs a vaccination, Karma visits Howard Karagheusian Medico-Social Centre in Bourj Hammoud, Beirut—one of 50 REBAHS-supported facilities. Karma was also able to consult a gynaecologist, obtain laboratory tests and receive X-rays at a cost of US$2. The program has provided a critical source of accessible healthcare during a challenging time for her family.
“I am really so grateful for the assistance provided by International Medical Corps. I could never afford the cost of all those services,” she said.
Karma is just one of many Syrian refugees who have benefitted from REBAHS-funded assistance—where, for a small fee, a consultation and any necessary radiology, diagnostic and laboratory tests, as well as medications, are provided.