Walid Taha was a Palestinian father of five. He used to live in Aramoun. A month ago, a fire erupted and burnt down the house while he was sleeping inside. He somehow made it out alive, with burns over 70% of his body. Imagine what that means.
This left a whole family destitute, with no house to live in, no more support from the father’s income, and no means of paying for the father’s medical care. After all, Walid Taha was Palestinian. His only means of getting “medical care” is from UNRWA. His daughter did visit UNRWA, and was shut up by a check of a $4,000. Exactly what could that do for someone who is 70% burnt and who needs a minimum of $50,000 to be cured? She was later on thrown out of UNRWA for insisting – righteously – on full support for his operation. The family received similar treatment from the Palestinian embassy.
Walid’s daughters and sons did not leave a group or an organization or a person they know unapproached, and they plead for support and for their basic inherent rights as Palestinians – nothing more. But who would listen? UNRWA and the Palestinian Embassy in Lebanon have yet again proved what they stand for. The Lebanese government and those two entities are, at the end of the day, just about the same monster, with different labels.
There is only one hospital in Lebanon that treats burns of such degree – the Jeitawi Hospital. But Walid Taha could not be admitted there because they asked for a $20,000 down payment (as if you are buying a car) before his entry. Obviously, the family couldn’t afford that.
Out of all the hospitals, the only one that admitted Walid Taha was AUH, with a $3,500 deposit, which the family paid from the money that was supposed to go to the university fees of one of the children. In AUH, Taha was not treated for his burns. He was just on pain killers, delaying his collapse, because after all, AUH does not have a specific section for burns. His organs withered away, one after the other, because of the severity of his burns.
Barely any media or any sort of entity talked about Walid Taha. Similar cases happen almost on a daily basis in this country ever since the Palestinians were moved here. There is nothing new about that. (This is the first piece written on his case in Al-Akhbar http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/6130.)
Walid Taha passed away the same night we went to visit his family in AUH. Last we heard, they were not letting the family take the body from the hospital before they paid the bill, which was too many 0’s for me to recall. We did not dare call again to see what happened afterwards. At least I was too ashamed, as a Lebanese, to pick the phone up and call. I wish I could throw my nationality away and get this over and done with. It puts so much weight on me every dawn of every day.
We then heard that one of his sons had to sign that he will pay $20,000 in a month max in order for AUH to accept that they take the body out and bury Walid. Who is going to protest putting this son in prison and ending his life just because he wants to let his father’s soul and body rest in peace after years’ of humiliation on Lebanese soil? Apparently, not only are Palestinians not allowed to live respectfully and in peace in this country. They also have to pay a very expensive fee if they plan to die in peace.
Walid’s wife was a Lebanese citizen, or so they say. She couldn’t pass on her nationality to any of her five children, nor to her husband. Were that possible, probably, Walid would have had much better chances of finding a place in that Jeitawi hospital, which had repeatedly insisted that there were no empty beds in the final two weeks before Walid’s passing away.
Palestinians’ rights in Lebanon. Women’s rights in Lebanon. Human rights in Lebanon. Medical care in Lebanon. Anything, as a matter of fact, in this Lebanon, leads to the inevitable intertwined question: Where are we going with all this?
RIP Walid Taha