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Crisis in Yemen: helping some of the most vulnerable older people

Published on 05 March 2021 12:00 AM

Alaa Aldwaley/DEC

Devastated by civil war, food and water shortages, cholera outbreaks and the collapse of its health system, Yemen is in the grip of a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

More than 24 million people in Yemen are dependent on humanitarian assistance and many millions are dealing with the destruction of critical infrastructure including hospitals and homes, internal displacement and a deepening economic crisis. COVID-19 has only further exacerbated their situation.

To make matters worse, humanitarian funding to the country has dwindled by an alarming degree with a UN pledging conference on March 1st 2021 raising half than what was hoped for. The effects of the aid cuts will be felt by those already in the most desperate crisis; children, the most vulnerable and an estimated 1.6 million older people living in Yemen.


Yemen crisis: the impact on older people

Due to their age and specific vulnerabilities, the crisis has had a disproportionate impact on older people. They often face difficulty fleeing conflict, become disabled while attempting to escape, risk worsening their health conditions, get separated from their families, and in some cases are intentionally left behind to manage property.

A recent UN Yemen protection brief highlights the impact of the Yemen crisis on older people, drawing on data from the If not now, when? report, and rapid needs assessments conducted by HelpAge International. 

COVID-19: helping older people in Yemen

Less than half of the country’s health service is functioning, with unhygienic and poorly maintained equipment. There is a lack of access to information from trusted sources, particularly among older and disabled people, which means they haven’t always been able to receive clear guidance on preventative measures they can take.

 Age International worked with YFCA, a Yemen based organisation which has been active in the humanitarian response and supports two centres for older people with sight loss, to help the region prepare for the pandemic. More than 150 people with sight loss, many of whom also live with chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes, received hygiene kits of soap, disinfectant, masks, gloves and tissues.

Awareness-raising sessions were also held for older people twice a week, ensuring that the information was accessible for those with sight loss, and cleaning supplies and training were provided to staff at the two centres for older people.

A recent UN Yemen protection brief highlights the impact of the devastating Yemen crisis on older people. It draws on data from the joint Age International and HelpAge International If not now, when? report which provides urgent recommendations for an inclusive humanitarian response for older people.

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Last updated: Mar 11 2021

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