Older people are neglected in Darfur

By henry neondo
The HelpAge International has warned that older people are neglected and forgotten in Darfur camps.
The international NGO charges that the elederly are frequently not included in international humanitarian aid food and health programmes.
HAI says that a health and nutrition assessment of older people in five camps in West Darfur, found older people felt isolated and lonely because of food insecurity.
On average, “older” people over the age of 50 years old, comprise 10 per cent of a camp’s population. HAI says that though classified as vulnerable group, many interviewed, said they were not being directly targeted by aid agencies.
The HAI study showed that over 20 per cent of older people were not accessing World Food Programme food rations, with this figure rising to 26 per cent in one camp.
45 per cent of older people claimed not to have proper shelter and 61 per cent claimed to have a chronic disease that needed specialised treatment or drugs, which were not available to them. Around 29 per cent were caring for orphaned children, but still not targeted by humanitarian organisations for supplementary food aid.
The research found few older people had adequate food, either in quality or quantity. Around 20 per cent were only eating one meal a day.
Often they were sharing rations with orphaned and separated children, not always related, in their care. Those not receiving food, had missed out on registration due to disability or being unable to move without support or a guide.
Eye health was the most common health problem and 19 per cent of those interviewed had severely impaired vision, due to blindness or other eye problems. Along with dental infections, this was a contributing factor to the poor access and consumption levels of adequate food, therefore increasing the risk of malnutrition in older people.
Half of all the older people interviewed by HelpAge International live alone, most are widows, without extended family support.


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