Syrian refugees practicing medicine in Lebanon

Photo: Syrian refugees practicing medicine in Lebanon
 / Arab World

The impact of the refugee crisis on the daily lives of the Lebanese began growing after Syrians started working in fields that are banned for non-Lebanese amid fears they would be nationalized under international pressure, Naharnet reported.

The head of the parliamentary health committee, MP Atef Majdalani, told An Nahar newspaper published on Monday that Syrian doctors are illegally working at hospitals and clinics in the eastern Bekaa Valley.

He urged the Lebanese Order of Physicians to defend the rights of Lebanese doctor.

But Health Minister Wael Abou Faour said the authorities "stopped the violations after receiving complaints from the syndicate and from [Lebanese] doctors."

He told the daily that Syrian doctors are banned from opening clinics or working at hospitals. But the authorities were only turning a blind eye to volunteers operating at clinics treating Syrian refugees in border areas and mainly the northeastern town of Arsal.

"We can't stop a physician from helping his compatriots," Abou Faour said.

Labor Minister Sejaan Qazzi revealed, however, that Syrian doctors, assistants and nurses are not just working in the areas mentioned by Majdalani.

They are spread in other regions as well, he said, adding 47 percent of refugees form a labor force that competes with the Lebanese.

Majdalani told Voice of Lebanon (100.5) that there are no statistics on the number of doctors and nurses working in Lebanon.

There are over one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres warned last week that the spiraling crisis from Syria's civil war could pose a serious threat to Lebanon's security.

There are now 2.9 million Syrian refugees registered in the region, with 100,000 more added each month.

The crisis has had a severe impact on Lebanon's economy and has been worsened by alleged pressure exerted by the international community to place them in camps.

Most of the refugees are living with relatives or have established encampments in the mainly Bekaa region and in northern Lebanon.

Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil stressed last week that there is consensus among the rival parties of the government to reject the establishment of camps, saying such a move would result in the nationalization of Syrians.

Despite the clear stance announced by the authorities, U.N. officials have asked them to grant Lebanese travel documents to Syrian refugees, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Monday.

The request came in response to a pressure exerted by the West, it said, without giving further details.

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