Implications of ageing trend a tool in humanitarian response

The UN Secretary General is to be commended for recognising older people’s needs in humanitarian responses but more needs to be done, says HelpAge International.


“The rise of ageing populations and its consequences for humanitarian work have not been adequately considered in the Secretary General’s report for the World Humanitarian Summit,” said Marcus Skinner, humanitarian policy advisor with HelpAge International.


“We were disappointed that the key themes of the WHS Synthesis Report relating to ageing were not addressed. The ageing of populations affected by emergencies will be a significant driver of changing humanitarian needs, with consequences for future responses”.

“Unfortunately, this meta-trend and its implications are not adequately considered in this report. For example, the risks and marginalisation faced by older women are not explicitly recognised in broader discussions around women’s empowerment and gender-based violence. Nor are the multiple discriminations faced by older people and people with disabilities discussed”.

“We welcome the recognition of the vulnerabilities of older people and the need for national and international efforts to address their marginalisation from humanitarian assistance,” said Skinner.

“And it’s positive to see the call for improved sex and age disaggregated data collection and analysis to assist in the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” he added.

HelpAge is working with leading humanitarian agencies representing children, youth, and people with disabilities to support the summit preparations and ensure the opportunities for reform are not missed.

The launch of the Secretary General’s World Humanitarian Summit report has been keenly anticipated by humanitarian agencies. Following a long process of consultation and engagement agencies were keen to understand the level of ambition Ban Ki-moon would set. HelpAge was also keen to understand the degree to which the Summit would address the neglect of older men and women identified in the World Humanitarian Summit Synthesis report published at the end of last year.

HelpAge International helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. Our work is strengthened through our global network of like-minded organisations – the only one of its kind in the world.

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