Muhammad’s Story

“My health is currently stable and I am thankful for the support and treatment I received.”



Mr. Muhammad Naji is a 72-year-old man from Burj Al-Barajneh Refugee Camp, in Beirut, Lebanon. He is living in very difficult conditions with no source of income. He had a blockage in the blood vessels of his heart, requiring immediate surgery. 

UNRWA’s Crisis Monitoring Report on the Socio-Economic Situation of Palestine Refugees in Lebanon, in October 2022, states that 93% of all Palestine refugees in Lebanon live in poverty.

The employment of 33% Palestinian refugees is insecure, as they find work as daily, weekly, or temporary laborers (in comparison to 10% of Lebanese). With the complete closure and stopping of many types of economic activities, many refugees have lost their income. 

Currently, approximately 95% of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon do not have any health insurance and they are not able to access services provided by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health. UNRWA, as a specialized UN agency for Palestinian refugees, provides full coverage of primary healthcare services for the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. However, it provides only partial support for some tertiary healthcare and treatment required for chronic or catastrophic diseases; such as neurological conditions, cardiovascular diseases, transplants, cancer, multiple sclerosis, or kidney failure.

According to UNRWA, 37% of all PRL and 33% of all PRS have a chronic condition.

The situation of elderly PRL and PRS is even worse, as 87.6% of all elderly PRL have some type of chronic disease, while 85.7% of all elderly PRS have some type of chronic disease (according to the UNRWA and AUB study published in 2015). Due to their age and medical conditions, many require hospitalization – which is partially covered by UNRWA and other NGOs (such as Welfare Association). UNRWA covers 90% of the cost for secondary hospital services and 60% of the very high costs of tertiary treatment at contracted Lebanese hospitals.

In addition, UNRWA currently utilizes two different systems to support patients in need of hospitalization. The first, is the regular support for tertiary hospitalization (which covers 60% [up to a ceiling of USD $5,000 per admission] of the total cost). The second, is under the “Medical Hardship Fund” support (partially covering the fees for patients whose cost of admission for in-patient treatment is $8,000 and above). The percentage of support depends on the total value per admission in both contracted and non-contracted hospitals, up to a ceiling of $6,000.

The recent funding difficulties faced by UNRWA, the declining interest / ability of donors to fund projects targeting PRL, and the economic crisis in Lebanon – means it is now more urgent than ever that essential and lifesaving medical support is provided for Palestinian refugees (both PRL and PRS), that can cover the hospitalization costs. Considering that no other NGO / entity is providing this essential support, this project filled a clear gap and saved dozens of lives – in addition to alleviating the financial and psychological burden of the patients’ families

Muhammad said:

“The search for funds to cover the cost of surgery takes many months and is extremely stressful, especially since we must go to many institutions to ensure that the cost of the operation is covered. The doctor informed me I needed a heart operation as soon as possible, but I needed to find the funds first!”

As part of this project supporting hospital costs, WA allocated funds to supplement the contribution from UNRWA towards Muhammad’s treatment. Muhammad’s family and friends were then able to raise the reduced balance required for his heart surgery.

Muhammad continued:

“Welfare Association was the first institution to receive my file and approve quickly.  I started researching other institutions to provide the remaining funds. My health is currently stable and I am thankful for the support and treatment I received.”

 PRL = Palestine Refugee in Lebanon / PRS = Palestine Refugee in Syria