Human Rights Voices

While the UN devotes its human rights operations to the demonization of the democratic state of Israel above all others and condemns the United States more often than the vast majority of non-democracies around the world, the voices of real victims around the world must be heard.

UNHCR, May 26, 2014

United Nations Rejects Over 50 Percent of Cancer Treatment Requests of Refugees but Spends a Billion on Palestinian Refugees

Original source

Headline and Global News

A new study revealed that the United Nations rejected the requests for cancer treatment of over 50 percent of refugees who escaped wars in Iran and Syria.

Researchers found out that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees turned down applications in Jordan from 2010 to 2012. They made the decision because of the medicine prices or the patients' poor prospects.

The UN agency brings medical aid to refugees with the support of other charities. The help given costs around $2,000 per patient per year. Pleas for treatment that goes beyond that amount are referred to exceptional care committees for approval. Decisions are made depending on cost, disease prognosis, and the necessity of treatment.

Humanitarian agencies are now facing the dilemma of having to juggle costs versus the number of people in need of help. In previous refugee crises in low-income countries, it was possible for the UN to deal with infectious diseases and malnutrition at a low cost. However, current refugee crises in middle-income nations like Syria provide bigger hurdles, with chronic diseases such as cancer being more common, and costs being a lot higher.

Paul Spiegel, the commissioner's chief officer and the study's lead author told Businessweek in a telephone interview, "It's horrible, it's like playing God. It's very sad, but it's just basic public health that you want to, with your limited amount of funds, help the largest number of people that you can."

There were 1,989 requests for treatment from 2010 to 2012, with 26 percent for cancer, and the rest for cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and war wounds. The study revealed that only around 48 percent of the treatment requests for cancer were approved. Per application, the averaged approved amount was $4,626 in 2011 and $3,501 in 2012.

The High Commissioner requested $4.26 billion for 2014 to manage 2.8 million refugees from the three-year civil war in Syria. However, they only received $1 billion.

Further details of the study can be read in the May 25 issue of The Lancet Oncology.