‘Immense suffering’: older people worldwide being failed by aid agencies – report

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Older people around the world are being “systematically failed” by aid agencies, leaving them unable find enough food or access medicine, research has found.Interviews with almost 9,000 older people affected by natural disasters, conflict or socio-economic crises in 11 countries, including Yemen, South Sudan and Venezuela, found a “one size fits all” aid approach which leaves out older people, according to a joint report published on Thursday by HelpAge International and Age International.Covid-19 has hit an already fragile situation for older people living in precarious circumstances, with women bearing the brunt of the failures, the report found.“The findings of our report show how the humanitarian system is systematically failing older people in what is tantamount to neglect,” said the report’s co-author, Age International’s head of policy, Ken Bluestone.“There is no excuse for their neglect, and we should be doing better. As Covid-19 has shown now, more than ever, is the time to fix it,” he said.The findings showed 98% of over 50s surveyed had a medical condition yet 26% could not access a health service; 39% weren’t able to get to aid distribution points; 64% didn’t have enough food, and 77% had no income.Rather than researching the situation, agencies relied on a key assumption that older people live with families, when in fact 20% live alone. The majority of respondents (77%) had not been asked by any agency about the services being provided.Older women fare far worse than older men, said the report. Women account for 58% of those living alone, having no income or having no access to food, and 56% of those with no access to healthcare.Although some efforts are being made to support older people, the report says: “Older people continue to experience immense suffering and their rights and needs remain overlooked in the humanitarian response. There has been a clear failure to fully implement the standards, frameworks, policies and guidelines that exist to protect and promote the rights of older people.”Marck Chikanza, of the National Ageing Network of Zimbabwe, said around 540,000 older people in the country need humanitarian assistance. “It is much easier to get funding for children and people with disabilities [as] funding for older people gets lumped into funding for vulnerable people in general,” he said.He added: “Many older people lost their children and grandchildren in Cyclone Idai. This also increases their vulnerability in the long-term as they expected their children and grandchildren to look after them in old age. We are currently seeking ways to tap into funding for orphans as 60% of orphans are cared for by grandparents, but they don’t get any support to do this.”In Venezuela, where a protracted crisis has led to severe shortages of food, water and fuel, 89% of the nation’s 2.1 million over 64s live below the poverty line, said HelpAge International manager Ingrid Kuhfeldt.“Many humanitarian actors feel that older people benefit from generic humanitarian programmes, but in reality, they are being left out,” she said.“The UN is thankfully now improving at gathering disaggregated data for older people, but it remains to happen for most NGOs. They don’t gather or provide this information yet. This is because older people are not seen as a relevant group by many in Venezuela, even within communities and families themselves.”The number of people aged 50 and above living in countries where emergencies are likely to occur is estimated to rise from 220 million today to 586 million in 2050.“Aid agencies must include older people in consultations: their lives matter and the important contribution older people can make in their communities during an emergency, improving lives for everyone, should not be overlooked,” said Bluestone.
This post was originally posted on Venezuela | The Guardian – View Original Article

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