Refugee family’s newborn stranded in hospital until family pays bill

A hospital in İstanbul has refused to discharge the newborn baby of a refugee family for the past four months because the family has been unable to pay the hospital bill, the Evrensel daily reported, citing the Mezopotamya news agency (MA).

The baby was born prematurely on December 21 and was put in an incubator at Bağcılar State Hospital. Although the infant is no longer in an incubator, the hospital has refused to hand the baby over to its family.

In a meeting at one of its İstanbul offices, the Human Rights Association (İHD) called on the hospital to immediately release the baby.

Gülseren Yoleri, president of the İHD İstanbul branch, said the hospital was demanding TL 30,000. “We demanded to speak with the chief physician, who told us it was preposterous for a baby to be kept like this. However, whenever the family goes to the hospital, they [the hospital administration] direct them to the billing department,” she said.

Yoleri said it was a scandal that a newborn baby had been kept away from its mother for so long and that the authorities are responsible for its welfare. “The authorities can’t discriminate when it comes to healthcare, and they have to fulfill their responsibilities,” she said.

Yoleri emphasized that the baby’s family was distraught and urged the hospital to release the baby immediately.

Many refugee families in Turkey have been struggling with poverty and taking care of their basic needs, including healthcare.

An estimated 3.6 million refugees have been granted temporary protection in Turkey. The majority of them live outside camps, in precarious and challenging circumstances. According to a Brookings Institution report, over 64 percent of Syrian households live close to or below the poverty line.

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