Campaigners decry worsening plight of elderly refugees

Elderly refugee persons in a number of global hotspots are living in deplorable conditions yet governments, relatives and the international community are slow to attend to their plight, campaigners said on Wednesday.


HelpAge International, an international charity, said in a report launched in Nairobi ahead of the inaugural world humanitarian summit to be held on May 23-24 in Istanbul, Turkey that the suffering of elderly refugees has reached crisis proportion.

The “Older Voices in Humanitarian Crises Report”, based on testimonies from 300 ageing refugees in South Sudan, Syria and Ukraine, revealed their worsening plight in the face of hunger, ill health and official negligence.

“To address the neglect faced by older people in conflicts and disasters, their opinions must be heard and changes made in the humanitarian system,” said Frances Stevenson, head of humanitarian team at HelpAge International

The elderly refugees whose testimonies were compiled in the HelpAge International report spoke of physical and emotional abuse as conflicts and natural calamities engulfed their countries.

The report indicated that elderly refugees were forced to endure physical separation from their loved ones alongside hunger, failing health and negligence.

“Older people in humanitarian situations complained of chronic ailments, loneliness and depression,” said the report.

It recommended data driven interventions to restore dignity, emotional and physical health to elderly refugees.

The plight of elderly refugees will be raised during the forthcoming world humanitarian summit in Istanbul.

Campaigners said the summit will provide a platform for governments, multilateral agencies and corporations to retool humanitarian interventions for elderly people in conflict zones.

“The first ever world humanitarian summit provides a chance to lay the foundation for a reformed humanitarian system that puts vulnerable people at the centre of disaster response,” Stevenson said. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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