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Adjustments to hospitalization support in Lebanon
Statement attributed to UNRWA Spokesperson, Christopher Gunness
Over the past few days there have been a range of reactions to the move by UNRWA to adapt its hospitalization support in Lebanon.
The reasons for this adjusted policy include increasing support for tertiary care and alleviating the burden of costly surgical operations. In addition, a cost-sharing element for secondary care was introduced in line with international good practice.
The Agency acknowledges the concerns this change raises among refugees and is increasing its efforts to support those refugees who cannot afford to cover these costs.
While UNRWA will continue to resolutely defend the right of Palestine refugees to quality health services, the Agency rejects allegations circulated in the media that the adjustments to the hospitalization policy were to blame for the tragic death of one refugee as well as critical medical conditions of two others in Tyre in South Lebanon.
UNRWA appeals for calm and respect of the Agency’s staff and installations in order to ensure that all Palestine refugees continue to have access to the Agency’s much-needed services.
When the number of those needing our hospitalization services is rising, and hospitalization costs are increasing, especially in Lebanon, where Palestine refugees rely entirely on UNRWA services, we continue to work with our partners to increase their support for all UNRWA services.
At a time when the when the plight of Palestine refugees is increasingly neglected, we are determined to deliver essential core services and to advocate for the rights and dignity of Palestine refugees until a just and lasting solution to their plight is achieved.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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