“I want to go to the Netherlands,” says 11-year-old Azzedine to ZEMBLA reporter Ton van der Ham in Beirut. Azzedine isseriously ill. He has nasal cavity cancer. Five years ago, he and his family fled from the war in Syria. They now live in a chicken barn in Lebanon. There is a treatment for his illness, but his parents cannot afford it. Meanwhile, the cancer has spread to his lungs.
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Lebanon hosts around 750,000 Syrian refugee children up to the age of 15, with or without their parents. Some of them are sick, like Azzedine. The UN's international resettlement program aims to redistribute refugees from countries like Lebanon. Participating countries, such as the Netherlands, send out so-called 'selection missions' to fill up the spots. So does the Netherlands, with 750 invitations per year. A maximum of 30 of these are reserved for seriously ill refugees, of all ages. But that number includes their healthy family members. One has to be very lucky to be selected for resettlement. Azzedine is not lucky.
ZEMBLA meets more seriously ill children who have not been selected. Such as Bouchra (14). She needs regular blood transfusions because of a blood disorder. And Abdelhamid (6) is waiting for a life-saving bone marrow transplant. The donor has already been found: his sister. But there is no money for the surgery.