Increased support to chronically ill refugees from Syria

Posted on Sep 30, 2015

NORWAC has received USD 2.4 million in emergency aid from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These funds will be used to support chronically ill refugees from Syria in Lebanon. With 30 years of experience in Lebanon, NORWAC’s network with local partners and UNHCR make it possible to identify Syrian patients in need and secure life-saving treatment at hospitals across Lebanon.

Treating kidney failure and thalassemia in Lebanon

One of the most vulnerable groups of patients among refugees from Syria in Lebanon are those with chronic non-communicable diseases, such heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney failure, congenital diseases and injuries, children with mental disabilities and persons with various forms of cancer. They depend upon regular treatment for survival, are at particular risk of serious consequences of a life in refuge because of inability to pay for services or to reach services. Sadly, these patients receive little attention from the international aid community. Without necessary treatment many chronically ill patients are at risk of dying – or will try to escape to countries/areas where such treatment is more accessible.Chronically ill

Lebanese hospitals have the necessary medical expertise and capacity to provide adequate treatment to large parts of the refugees from Syria. Such services however, are costly for refugees with little or no income. Without coverage from the UN, the prospects of getting proper and timely treatment for their diseases are very bad.

NORWAC intends to fill this gap in medical needs among the Syrian refugees, with a special effort towards patients suffering from (1) chronic kidney failure and (2) children with the congenital blood disease thalassemia. With funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NORWAC will support these patients with life-saving treatment by using the available health services in Syria’s neighboring countries.

Together with our Lebanese partner, the Union of Relief and Development Association (URDA), we will provide appr. 13.000 dialysis treatments and appr. 3.250 thalassemia treatments for displaced Syrians at hospitals spread across Lebanon. Additional treatment for other chronically ill patients will be provided based on further needs assessments.

Arsal Hospital
Around 65.000 refugees from Syria are currently confined in the Northeastern Lebanese border town of Arsal. The city’s hospital, which also serves around 30.000 native inhabitants, is under heavy pressure by the city’s growing medical needs. Without public support or support from the UN, the hospital is desperate for funding to maintain services in surgery, radiology, laboratory, orthopedics and acute injuries. With funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NORWAC will cover the full range of services at the hospital for a period of 12 months.

Akcakale, Turkey

Since the beginning of 2014, more than 15,000 Syrian refugees have been living outside the camps in Akçakale, a Turkish town adjacent to the border gate between Syria and Turkey. The majority of these refugees are either not able to find jobs or receive very low incomes. In addition, a new wave of displacement took place in June-July 2015 when the Tal Abyad area abruptly became a war zone and almost everyone from Tal Abyad city and the surrounding towns moved to Akcakale. This new wave of refugee are forced to live in makeshift housing outside the crammed refugee camps.

In response to this wave of displacement, NORWAC has received funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to support a temporary polyclinic in Akcakale dedicated to providing medical services for Syrian refugees.


By Stein Omar Gjendem