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In their own words: Life as an older refugee in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is host to a high number of refugees from neighbouring South Sudan, fleeing conflict and hunger in their home country. Many rely on food aid, but for older refugees and those with disabilities, reaching the aid distribution points can be challenging - as Nyamach, 78, told us. When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Ethiopia, we focused on helping the most vulnerable.

Through our partner HelpAge International, we support older refugees living in the refugee camps in the Gambella region of Ethiopia. With older people at particular risk of the coronavirus as well as amongst the most impacted by restrictions aimed at curbing the spread, when the pandemic reached Ethiopia (with outbreaks in several refugee camps) we focussed on reaching out to the most vulnerable, including those already chronically ill and in need of assistance before the pandemic, like Nyamach.

“My Name is Nyamach, and I came here from South Sudan in 2015. I became sick two years ago. At that time, HelpAge home-based care providers came and visited me every week. Besides the support that I got from the visits, they also referred me to a health centre where I got additional treatment,  including medication for my heart disease, and I’ve had a good improvement in my condition.

After my sickness started, I was unable to move from place to place on my own. But now, thanks to the continuous support I get from the HelpAge team and the health centre, my life is back to normal and I feel no pain in my heart.

I am very happy with HelpAge for the items that I received – including staple and fresh food items (e.g. haricot beans and oil), a mosquito net and a water container, and more recently soaps, a face mask and sanitiser.

In addition, I also benefitted from a service where food items are taken from general food distribution up to my home, this is very important to me and other vulnerable groups who have found collecting their full ration challenging. Before, I used to sell part of my food items for transportation because I was unable to transport them myself and was not able to pay to transport them either.

Now, I am very satisfied and happy with HelpAge and the various support I am getting."

Coronavirus Appeal

Older people in the poorest parts of the world affected by conflict or living in refugee camps need help urgently to survive the silent threat of COVID-19.

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Last updated: May 06 2021

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