Hon. Mutuuzo Peace Regis, Minister of State for Gender and Cultural Affairs Uganda (left) is welcomed by Mr Necodimus Chipfupa, Regional Director, HelpAge International (centre) as Mr Joram Tiibasimwa, Chairman, National Council for Older Persons in Uganda looks on.
Hon. Mutuuzo Peace Regis, Minister of State for Gender and Cultural Affairs Uganda (left) is welcomed by Mr Necodimus Chipfupa, Regional Director, HelpAge International (centre) as Mr Joram Tiibasimwa, Chairman, National Council for Older Persons in Uganda looks on.

While accelerated actions toward the rights fulfilment and protection of older migrants by governments of Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia is satisfactory, HelpAge International and its network members have however urged the governments to ratify the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Older People.

According to Joselyn Bigirwa, the Programme Manager of the European Union funded project on the rights fulfilments and protection of older South Sudanese migrants jointly implemented by the HelpAge International and its partners in Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan, there are progressive actions by the three host governments to address the rights concerns of the refugees and internally displaced populations. “These countries are improving their policy environments that enable humanitarian actors to offer needed interventions,” she said.

Further, there is a notable increase in understanding and integration of the rights of older refugees and internally displaced population in humanitarian actions. For instance, there are legal redress for older refugees, especially older women on reported rights violations and sexual abuses.

Adopted by the Heads of Government and State Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2016, the Protocol has been ratified by only two governments of Lesotho and Benin but needs 13 others to ensure that it comes into force.

Lefhoko Kesamang, Senior Social Welfare Officer at African Union Commission said so far 15 other countries, namely Benin, Burundi, Chad, Comoros, Ghana, Lesotho, Mali, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Gabon, Central Africa Republic, Gabon, Guinea, Togo, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Zambia have signed the protocol, showing their commitment to the rights of older people.

Thomas Tidemann, Head of Section, Human Rights and Governance at the European Union, Uganda lauded Uganda’s open-door policy that have seen Uganda now hosting the highest number of refugees in the country.

He noted that the project is a recognition by the EU that older women and men are often absent in humanitarian response when they too fall victims in crises.
Necodimus Chipfupa, Regional Director, HelpAge International said the rights of older migrant population best stand protected by the ratified African Union Protocol on the Rights of Older People.

“The ratified protocol sends a signal to the world that we still matter as we get older and that all people, age notwithstanding, have a future where they can age with dignity and participate equally,” he said.

He noted that the older people and their organisations are galvanizing political support including providing needed technical support in African countries to support an accelerated ratification of the Protocol on the Rights of Older People.

“As a result, we saw the governments of the Lesotho becoming the first country to ratify the protocol. Followed by Benin. Rwanda and Ethiopia in the region with 13 governments have signed the Protocol and hopefully they will follow this up with the ratification,” he said.

In addition, said Roseline Kihumba, International Policy Advisor at HelpAge International said older people are also calling for the implementation of the Kampala Convention its monitoring and reporting at national and regional level to ensure mainstreaming of older persons.

She said an accelerated ratification of the Protocol will support in strengthening policy actions related to commitment member states have made on older persons rights in humanitarian actions as articulated in Kampala Convention.

The project entitled: ‘Advancing the rights and protection of conflict-affected older South Sudanese migrants in Ethiopia, Uganda and South Sudan’ is a three-year, EU-funded project being implemented by HelpAge International through its network members in Uganda (Uganda Reach the Aged), Ethiopia (EPNA) and South Sudan (South Sudan Older People Organisation) with an overall budget of 1,116,543.95 (1 Million Euros from EC). The overall objective of the project is to contribute to rights fulfilment and protection of older migrants in Ethiopia, Uganda, and South Sudan.

The expected outcome of the project is strengthened operational and institutional capacities of duty bearers, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Older People’s Associations (OPAs) to implement effectively the international and regional instruments regulating the rights and protection of South Sudanese migrant older populations. The project is also planned to contribute towards improving the livelihood situation of older men and women migrants of South Sudanese origin in South Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda.

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