Age UK London’s international partner, Age International, is raising funds to help older people in Yemen. The organisation’s Communications Manager, Judith Escribano explains why:
The crisis in Yemen has left millions in desperate need of life-saving aid, including 1.65 million people in later life. Unable to flee the bombing, ignored and neglected, older people are among the most vulnerable.
A country that is both poor and in conflict
Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East. It has been at war for the past 20 months. Due to its harsh climate, the country imports 90% of its food, but imports have been hampered by the conflict.
Right now, 7 million people are in desperate need of food. People are already starving. The country is on the brink of famine.
Older people particularly at risk
Some people have been able to flee to safety to parts of the country where the conflict is not so widespread, or to neighbouring countries. However, as is so often the case in conflict emergencies, many older people have been left behind.
Sometimes frail and weak; often keen to remain in their own homes; most older people are staying behind in their homeland, facing bombardments and food shortages.
But people in later life often face difficulties accessing aid. Less able to stand for long periods and unlikely to fight their way to the front of the line, they are often at the back of the queue when distributing emergency relief.
Then when they finally get to the front of the queue, many older people find that the aid is too heavy to carry; and the food too difficult to chew, swallow or digest.
Also, following an emergency, healthcare often focuses on the provision of first aid and fails to address the chronic illnesses that some older people endure. Some aid agencies fail to prioritise medication for long-term conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or dementia. But without access to appropriate medication, older people with chronic conditions may end up getting more ill, or even dying from treatable illnesses.
How Age International is helping
Age International is the only UK charity to specifically focus on the needs and rights of older people in emergencies. We ensure that aid is appropriate for people in later life – distributing aid in people’s homes, or in places where older people can sit down and wait. Giving food full of protein and micronutrients that can be easily chewed, swallowed or digested. Providing treatment for chronic illnesses. Sometimes the charity also gives out cash so older people themselves can decide how to get the best help necessary.
Whatever it does, Age International works to ensure that older people are not forgotten.
For more information, or to make a donation, please go to Yemen Crisis Appeal