Sunday, December 9, 2007
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
"AIN AL-HILWEH, 9 December 2007 (IRIN) - A desperately needed hospital in Lebanon’s largest and most violent Palestinian refugee camp has been unable to open on time because funds to buy beds and other basic medical equipment have dried up.
The US$5m Al-Quds hospital in Ain al-Hilweh, just outside the southern port city of Sidon, is the single largest investment in the camp’s 60-year history and aims to treat a range of chronic diseases, heart problems, cancers and nervous disorders suffered by Ain al-Hilweh residents. It also aims to have a children’s wing and an intensive care unit.
But hospital director Ibrahim Marshoud told IRIN the hospital was still some $2m from completion after international donations to the Palestinian charity Badr Foundation, which has paid for the hospital, ceased in recent months.......
Heart surgery costs around US$7,000, according to Palestinian leaders and doctors in the camp, a price almost no-one can afford to pay, with unemployment in the camp hitting 80 percent. The Al-Quds hospital aims to offer free treatment for heart disease.
According to UNRWA, Lebanon has the highest percentage of all Palestinian refugees living in abject poverty, and the worst of that is felt inside the 12 official refugee camps, home to just over half the country’s 400,000 registered Palestinians.....
With Palestinians in Lebanon barred from opening their own clinics - Palestinians are barred from over 70 professional jobs - and with a decades-old Lebanese policy of preventing imports into the camp that could be used for its improvement, Maqdah had to use considerable “influence”, said Marshoud, just to get the hospital built......"