Access to Healthcare for Refugee Children


SEATTLE — Many Syrians are unable to cross the Jordanian border to gain much-needed access to healthcare. Syrians who live outside of refugee camps cannot afford healthcare due to increases in fees assessed by the Jordanian authorities or because they lack the necessary paperwork for eligibility. Serious emergency cases are left untreated and many people, including children, die.

International aid is critical to the resettlement of refugees. Financial assistance is essential for gaining leverage for access to healthcare, given that few Syrians can afford healthcare due to increased fees and the need to feed their families. By 2015, only 26 percent of the funding requirements for health in the Jordan Response Plan for the Syria Crisis had been met.

About 120,000 Syrian refugees live in three camps where they have access to healthcare, education, water, food and cash-for-work programs provided by the U.N. and other organizations. Unfortunately, 630,000 Syrian refugees live outside the camps and cannot return without the proper documentation. These people have no access to healthcare or other public services.

In one case, an 8-year-old girl who lost her leg in a rocket attack traveled to Jordan to access healthcare with her family from Damascus. There, she received a prosthetic limb. However, they were forced to leave after enduring threats from other refugees. Now, they are without access to healthcare and have to live outside the camp as a result of improper documentation.

It is children who are at the greatest risk from displacement. UNICEF produced a report outlining the needs of the most at-risk children in the top five high-risk countries.  There are 5.8 million children still living in conflict zones of their own countries, and a further 2.2 million children living as refugees in bordering countries. This will require $300 million for access to healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene.

  • Syrian refugees will require $1 billion to assist children who have been displaced by six years of conflict.
  • Yemen is suffering from both civil war and famine and Unicef is seeking $200 million to feed 6.9 million children.
  • In Iraq there are 5.1 million children, a quarter of whom have been displaced from their homes as a result of the conflict. Here, the U.N. states the need for $160 million for access to healthcare needs, specifically polio vaccinations.
  • In Sudan, drought has decimated livestock, and two million children under the age of 5 are considered acutely malnourished. Food security and access to healthcare are intertwined, and the U.N. plans to raise $100 million for nutrition programs.
  • Somalia has nearly one million children under 5 facing severe malnourishment. There is a need for $60 million to feed these children and to provide access to healthcare.

Millions of children are in desperate need in what is the largest displacement crisis since World War II. International aid organizations will need ongoing support and governments around the world must be encouraged to contribute if this crisis is to be alleviated.

Addison Grace Evans

Photo: Flickr


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