The Lebanese Association, together with Malteser International, distributes emergency kits and provides medical assistance
A home visits programme is reaching out to 400 Syrian refugee families living in precarious improvised shelters in northern Lebanon. With Malteser International’s support, the Lebanese Association of the Order of Malta’s socio-medical centre in Khaldieh is sending out health professionals to visit refugees in Zgharta and Kfarzayna villages in order to conduct health awareness sessions, educating the refugees on various issues such as personal hygiene, maternal care and the importance of vaccination.
“When I do home visits, I see a lot of misery,” says Rouba Azize, social worker at the Khaldieh clinic and one of the coordinators of the emergency relief efforts for the refugees. “People are living in basements, sleeping on cardboard on the floor. The hygienic conditions are horrendous and a threat to public health.”
One of these visits takes Azize to a 200-square-metre basement in the Zgharta region, near the Khaldieh clinic. Here, around 100 people live in small divisions in a dark, damp room. “Many of the children have skin infections; rubella is also going around,” says Azize. The Syrian refugees benefitting from this visiting programme receive emergency food packages, hygienic kits, blankets and mattresses.
“The need is enormous. There are many diseases and there’s a high risk of epidemics breaking out among the refugees,” says Miladia Hamati Aoun, a nurse at the Khaldieh clinic who cares for the Syrian patients.
In late March, the clinic conducted a three-day vaccination campaign for dozens of refugee children and teenagers, helping to protect them and their families from diseases such as polio and rubella. The children also received vitamin A supplements as a prevention measure.
“The refugees that I assist are very grateful for the help,” Aoun says. “They often tell me: ‘May God protect you, your family and your home’ – this blessing has a very special meaning, when you know the horrible things they’ve seen and experienced. They’ve lost their homes and family members.”
Since Malteser International started supporting the Kahldieh centre in August of 2012, more than 1,300 Syrians have received free medical treatment.