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Lebanese hospital holds Syrian refugee woman and her newborn

(Zaman Al Wasl)- A Lebanese hospital is holding a Syrian refugee woman and her newborn as her husband can not afford the $2000 bill. 

Ali Jumaa al-Qasum, father, told Zaman al-Wasl that he had taken his wife to the hospital in the Zaghrata region for a caesarean operation at one of the hospitals that deal with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) a few days ago. The doctor asked them to return on December 16 for the operation. 

On December 16, al-Qasum’s wife started feeling great pains, and he took her to the same hospital but the hospital staff refused to admit her on the pretext there were insufficient patient beds. The hospital sent al-Qasum and his wife to the Islamic Charity Hospital in Tripoli city. According to al-Qasum, his wife was between life and death at this point. 

The Islamic Charity Hospital only agree to admit her after al-Qasum paid a deposit of 700,000 Lebanese Pounds as this was all the money he had with him at the time. 

Al-Qasum explained that the doctor told him that the operation has a 25% success rate, but despite this pessimistic outlook, the operation was successful, and his wife and child lived. The family’s suffering continued as the hospital refused to discharge his wife and child before $2,000, the fees for two operations a caesarian section and hysterectomy to prevent her bleeding out, were paid.

Al-Qasum confirmed that his wife is being held in one room and her child in another room, and security guards have been posted on both to force the family to pay the sum.

The hospital refuses to discharge them until he pays required amount, said al-Qasum. He is concerned that he will be arrested and detained if he goes to the hospital because he does not have the required sum. In addition, the sum is increasing daily as his wife and child are still held in the hospital.

The sum started out at 2,500,000 Lebanese Pounds on December 16, and by December 19, the sum has increased to 3,000,000 Lebanese Pounds. Al-Qasum told Zaman al-Wasl that he works as a daily laborer harvesting olives where his daily wage does not exceed 20,000 Lebanese Pounds. He provides for 15 children counting his children and his sister's children. He added that the family lives in a hut made of bags and wood, and despite the terrible living conditions, monthly rent for the hut exceeds 200,000 Lebanese Pounds.

Al-Qasum pointed out UNHCR did not intervene or help him to cover the cost of treatment because the hospital they went to does not have an agreement with UNHCR. Their unwillingness to help comes although he initially took his wife to a hospital contracted with UNHCR and they turned the family away. Due to the deterioration of her health and severe bleeding, he was forced to take her to the second hospital. 

In an emotional voice, al-Qassum said that he tried to negotiate with the hospital that his wife leaves and they keep his child until he manages to collect the sum as he does not have another option. He explained that he resorted to many humanitarian and medical organizations to help him solve this crisis, but he did not benefit from all his efforts. 

In keeping with its policy of presenting the opinion of all those involved in an issue, Zaman al-Wasl contacted the Islamic Charity hospital via its Facebook page and the telephone numbers registered to it. Zaman al-Wasl unable to receive any reply and leaves the door open before the hospital to reply or correct any misinformation included in this report.

An estimated 20,000 Syrian babies are born in Lebanon annually which means that more than 100,000 Syrian babies have been born in Lebanon from 2012. Of those born 20% are registered legally and around 80% remain without registration according to local statistics.

Zaman A Wasl
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