Amnesty: Syrian refugees denied critical healthcare in Jordan

Many refugees cannot afford the fees for medical care imposed by the Jordanian government in 2014

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Syrian refugees in Jordan are finding it very difficult to get medical care because of Jordanian fees and bureaucracy, and shrinking humanitarian financial support, rights group Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

Many refugees cannot afford the fees for medical care imposed by the Jordanian government in 2014, and some, injured in the Syrian conflict, have died after being turned away at the border, Amnesty said in a report.

There are 630,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan registered with the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), the vast majority of them living in poverty outside the refugee camps, Amnesty said.

“Lengthy bureaucratic procedures and additional health care fees pose huge obstacles to those of them requiring medical treatment,” Sherif Elsayed-Ali, head of refugee and migrants’ rights at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

“The user fees imposed by Jordan may not appear to be high but are unaffordable for most refugees who are struggling to feed their families, and leave many unable to access the critical care they need.”

Refugees who have left the camps unofficially or re-entered Jordan after going back to Syria are not eligible to receive documents required by the Jordanian authorities to obtain public services, including healthcare, it said.

Falling humanitarian support has contributed to the problem, as only 26 percent of Jordan’s funding requirements for health had been met at the end of 2015, Amnesty said.

Some refugees with critical injuries have been denied access, despite a provision allowing entry for those with war-related injuries, since Jordan imposed restrictions in 2012 on Syrians trying to cross the border, Amnesty said.

The main reasons for refusal of entry were lack of identity documents (ID) or the injuries not being life-threatening, it said.

In July, 14 injured people, among them five children with shrapnel wounds, were prevented from entering Jordan and four of them died while waiting at the border, Amnesty said.

“To not even allow entry to people who are fleeing a conflict zone with serious injuries because they don’t have ID papers shows a chilling lack of compassion and appalling disregard for their rights to health and life,” Elsayed-Ali said.

Some 58 percent of Syrians with chronic conditions lacked access to medicines or other health services, Amnesty said, citing UNHCR figures.

“Greater international support in the form of more resettlement places for refugees and financial assistance would make a world of difference by enabling the Jordanian authorities to strengthen the health system and remove barriers that are preventing Syrian refugees from accessing crucial health care,” Elsayed-Ali said.

The Jordanian government was not immediately available to comment.

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