What the coronavirus outbreak means for thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon

So far, there is only one public hospital being used to quarantine and treat COVID-19 patients for free – the Rafik Hariri University Hospital (RFUH) in Beirut. Private hospitals are currently working on making some sections available to treat coronavirus patients. COVID-19 tests can be taken for free at RFUH, but it is not clear whether the hospital staff has the capacity to conduct hundreds of tests per day. On March 11th, the Lebanese Ministry of Health announced that it already asked private hospitals to do coronavirus tests for 150,000 L.L (US$98), or nearly 1/3 of an average Palestinian’s monthly wage. This means that once the numbers of tests surge, people might have to go to private hospitals and pay for testing – at a price that at least 40% of the population cannot afford amid the current economic crisis.

Up until now, Palestinian refugees, who have been living in Lebanon for decades yet remain without rights, are not clear about what actions are being taken to protect and support their communities. In a recent interview, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) stated that an emergency room has been set up for Palestinians. It hasn’t, however, shared any information about an actual response plan beyond “awareness” campaigns. Awareness can be helpful but not necessarily effective to people who have no access to healthcare, or the right to access healthcare. Moreover, the Lebanese Red Cross recently refused to transfer a patient from a refugee camp to the RFUH, causing more anxiety amid camps residents.

Many Palestinians worry that they might be forced to pay for testing and hospitalization, money they don’t have. Making the situation worse, xenophobic discourses remain and intensify with no end in sight, even in a raging epidemic [2]. Several Lebanese officials such as Samir Geagea, for instance, have called for greater control in refugee camps, places where Palestinians are  already under complete surveillance and control. These practices separate those who are deemed “deserving” of treatment from those who are “not deserving.” Citizens, in cases of pandemics, are typically framed as sanitary subjects deserving to survive whereas the non-citizen, the refugees, are “un-sanitized” and a “burden” and, thus, not deserving of treatment or allowed to live. This is complicated by the normalized xenophobic treatment causing Palestinians to be wary of health services in Lebanon. In 2018, for instance,  a three-year-old Palestinian boy died after hospitals across Lebanon refused to provide him with a bed in an intensive care unit because of his nationality.

Print
Print Share Comment Cite Upload Translate Updates

Leave a Reply

APA
Islam Khatib | Radio Free (2022-08-18T17:41:35+00:00) » What the coronavirus outbreak means for thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Retrieved from https://www.radiofree.org/2020/03/19/what-the-coronavirus-outbreak-means-for-thousands-of-palestinian-refugees-in-lebanon/.
MLA
" » What the coronavirus outbreak means for thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon." Islam Khatib | Radio Free - Thursday March 19, 2020, https://www.radiofree.org/2020/03/19/what-the-coronavirus-outbreak-means-for-thousands-of-palestinian-refugees-in-lebanon/
HARVARD
Islam Khatib | Radio Free Thursday March 19, 2020 » What the coronavirus outbreak means for thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon., viewed 2022-08-18T17:41:35+00:00,<https://www.radiofree.org/2020/03/19/what-the-coronavirus-outbreak-means-for-thousands-of-palestinian-refugees-in-lebanon/>
VANCOUVER
Islam Khatib | Radio Free - » What the coronavirus outbreak means for thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. [Internet]. [Accessed 2022-08-18T17:41:35+00:00]. Available from: https://www.radiofree.org/2020/03/19/what-the-coronavirus-outbreak-means-for-thousands-of-palestinian-refugees-in-lebanon/
CHICAGO
" » What the coronavirus outbreak means for thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon." Islam Khatib | Radio Free - Accessed 2022-08-18T17:41:35+00:00. https://www.radiofree.org/2020/03/19/what-the-coronavirus-outbreak-means-for-thousands-of-palestinian-refugees-in-lebanon/
IEEE
" » What the coronavirus outbreak means for thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon." Islam Khatib | Radio Free [Online]. Available: https://www.radiofree.org/2020/03/19/what-the-coronavirus-outbreak-means-for-thousands-of-palestinian-refugees-in-lebanon/. [Accessed: 2022-08-18T17:41:35+00:00]
rf:citation
» What the coronavirus outbreak means for thousands of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon | Islam Khatib | Radio Free | https://www.radiofree.org/2020/03/19/what-the-coronavirus-outbreak-means-for-thousands-of-palestinian-refugees-in-lebanon/ | 2022-08-18T17:41:35+00:00
To access this feature you must login or create an account.