The ongoing conflict in Syria has had a serious impact on the health of the Palestine refugee community. Access to UNRWA health centres has become increasingly difficult and dangerous; in some cases, violence, damage and insecurity have forced health centres to close entirely. Of the Agency’s original 23, only 10 remain open as of October 2013 – 5 in Damascus and 1 each in Homs, Hama, Latakia, Neirab and Aleppo. In Damascus and Aleppo areas with high concentrations of displaced Palestine refugees, we are using new health points to help address the community’s needs, including the increasing prevalence of psychosocial trauma and stress and anxiety disorders.
Although Palestine refugees in Syria benefit from many of the same rights as Syrian citizens, when the government stopped referring them to Ministry of Health hospitals, UNRWA became their sole health care provider. The ongoing conflict has presented a new challenge to both the Agency and the community. UNRWA is working to protect the health of this vulnerable population by reimbursing non-contracted hospital bills; cooperating with partners, including the World Health Organization, to provide vaccinations against infectious diseases; and maintaining access to the vital services, medicines and treatments that Palestine refugees require.
The ongoing conflict has made data collection increasingly difficult. However, prior statistics illustrate the importance of UNRWA health services to the Palestine refugee community.