A new report by HelpAge International, the global network that advocates for the rights and dignity of older people, reveals that when it comes to humanitarian crises, the needs of the elderly are often overlooked and misunderstood. The survey of 300 older refugees fleeing from conflicts in Syria, South Sudan and Ukraine found evidence of neglect, poor health provision and feelings of isolation and fear. , Help Age’s Humanitarian Policy Manager, spoke to Linda Bordoni about the report’s findings.
Skinner said that older people are disproportionately affected when disaster strikes or conflicts flare up, describing the report as “a snapshot” of older people that reinforces the view that the elderly are “largely invisible in the design and delivery of humanitarian aid.”
He said almost all the older people they talked to in the three countries told them they had not been consulted about their needs and often were “unable to access assistance appropriate to their needs.”
Asked about the older refugees’ psychological state in humanitarian crises, Skinner said almost half of them reported suffering from depression, anxiety and lack of hope.
“We need the raise the profile” about the plight and needs of old people, he said, but all too often aid providers and policy makers focus on the needs of other vulnerable groups such as children and woman but not the elderly.
Skinner also says that HelpAge International will be present later in May at the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit where it will join other NGOs in lobbying for a reformed humanitarian system that ensures that no vulnerable person is left out.
He says that leading humanitarian agencies have drawn up a setting out the pressing commitments needed to ensure humanitarian assistance reaches the most affected people and invites everyone to sign up to the charter.