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A photo series: reaching older people in Cox's Bazar refugee camp

We’ve been working hard to support thousands of older people living in Cox's Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh. Many have already gone through so much to arrive at the relative saftey of the camps, but coronavirus has brought renewed hardship and fear. 

Working with our partners HelpAge Bangladesh, we adapted and enhanced existing services provided in our Age Friendly Spaces, which includes healthcare and psychological support, to help older people prepare for the virus and reduce its spread.

To understand the true impact of the work on the older people we have supported in the camps, we had Fabeha Monir - a Dhaka based visual journalist - document the impact of COVID-19 on older people in Cox's Bazar refugee camps. This is the first of a three part photo series, with all photos credited to Fabeha. 

Credit: Fabeha Monir

Zokir Ahmad, 73, has one son. He arrived at Cox’s Bazar refugee camp three years ago with his son and wife as Rohingya refugees. Zokir visits Age International's ‘Age Friendly Spaces' at least four times a month.

I have many health issues. Because of COVID-19 I feel fear. Every time I visit the ‘Age Friendly Spaces’ I feel safe, because they are taking care of us. There are doctors, physicians who are giving us free services. I receive medicine for free. We also receive various things like wooden cane, clothes, nutritious items and sometimes money as allowance from the space. If we did not have this support what would we do in this old age.

I feel bad when I remember about our land. Any day I may die and I would never again see the soil where I was born. We are thankful to spaces like this which makes us feel like we have a family.

Jorina, 71, stands in front of her shelter. She attends our Age Friendly Spaces and has received the healthcare services offered.

In our tarpaulin tent there is no space to move. We somehow managed to live in our space and sleep at night. Now during COVID-19, we cannot go outside and can only sit at the doorstep. This Age friendly Space saved us from miseries. Who would buy us medicine if I did not get that from there? We do not have enough food at home. The kind of support we are getting from them makes us grateful. We fear now about the disease and what will happen to elderly people like me. What is waiting for us, I do not know?" 

Laila Khatun, 55, received physiotherapy with the support of physiotherapist Ms. Yesmin - who is a part of our healthcare team. This image was taken during her fourth session. Laila is being treated for acute knee and back pain which she has been suffering from for several years now.

I wouldn't be able to move an inch before I receive the therapy. It was too hard to move and we have to do many chores at home. Like for collecting water I have to travel a far distance. Now my health condition is improving.

I also receive free medicine from this Age Friendly Space. Without having these facilities none of us at this age will be able to survive. I feel good when I come here, people in my age group come to receive support and the way the doctor and all health care team provide support to us is remarkable.

Read more about how we've reached older people in Cox's Bazar refugee camps with vital support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Help some of the world's most vulnerable older people

Thousands of older people around the world are living in refugee camps, having fled conflict at home. Now COVID-19 has made life even more desperate. Health and access to food are both under threat. You can help change this.

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Last updated: Mar 16 2021

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