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The New Arab Staff

Lebanon hospital 'refused to vaccinate Palestinian man'

The World Bank has threatened to cut off funding for Lebanon's vaccination programme [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 February, 2021

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The allegation comes amid concerns over the equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in Lebanon.
A Lebanese hospital refused to give a Covid-19 vaccine to a 76-year-old man because he was not Lebanese, his son has alleged.

The country's immunisation campaign has already been embroiled in scandal, with the World Bank threatening to withdraw funding after authorities prioritised the vaccination of politicians.

Saroj Kumar Jha, the World Bank's regional director for the Middle East, said on Tuesday the vaccination of MPs was "not in line with the national plan agreed with World Bank and we would record it breach of terms and conditions agreed with us for fair and equitable vaccination".

Lebanese authorities promised to vaccinate non-citizens as part of the plan. 

Rani Haddad, co-founder of the Axon Technologies cybersecurity company, has now alleged his elderly father was refused the vaccine due to his nationality.

The 76-year-old, a Lebanese-born Palestinian refugee who has since acquired Canadian citizenship, was allegedly refused the vaccine at two separate hospitals.

"We were turned away because non-Lebanese are not currently being vaccinated as per the ministry's instruction," Haddad told local news site The961.

A since-deleted tweet by one of the hospitals - a screenshot of which was shared by Haddad - says hospital workers were "abiding by the lebanese law".

Some social media users have accused Haddad of fabricating the story and say his father had no right to the vaccination as he allegedly did not book an appointment.

The issue of an appointment was "not even brought up", Haddad responded in a tweet.

Others say the allegations highlight rampant xenophobia in Lebanon.

Another Twitter user, Nader Bouri, replied that his friend's father "was turned down, with an appointment, simply because he was not Lebanese (though resident in Lebanon since many years and over 80)".

Migrant workers were initially left out of Lebanon's Covid-19 vaccination plan, sparking a major backlash from rights groups and activists.

A three-phase plan announced by caretaker Labour Minister Lamia Yammine last week has still left it unclear when migrant workers will be vaccinated.

Lebanon has said it aims to vaccinate 80 percent of the population by the end of the year, including the estimated 1.7 million Palestinian and Syrian refugees living in the country.

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