Immediate release: Monday 1 February 2016
Peg: Thursday 4 February - Syria Donors Conference 2016 hosted by the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the United Nations in London.
Long term funding needed for Syria, including older people, says HelpAge International
Heads of state arriving in London this week for a high-level donor conference on Syria need to commit to long-term humanitarian funding for vulnerable people in Syria, including older people, says HelpAge International.
"For this conference to be a success we need donors to recognise the increased challenges faced by older people, those living with a disability or who are injured, in accessing basic services," said Toby Porter, Chief Executive, HelpAge International.
"Funding is needed to support key areas, particularly the protection of vulnerable groups and weaknesses in the health management of chronic diseases, especially among older people."
Latest figures show that 13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria, with 4.5 million in hard to reach areas including 0.39 million in besieged places. Syria is the largest displacement crisis in the world with 6.5 million internally displaced people.
"In 2010, a year before the war started, older people made up 5.2% of the population in Syria according to UN estimates,” said Porter.
"Latest figures show that 2.9% of registered refugees who have left the country are aged 60 and over."
Life is challenging for older people in Syria – many have no support network as younger carers have left.
"Older people tend to be less able to flee the horrors of the conflict because of the demands and hardship involved in making long, arduous journeys in search of refuge, and they are often less willing to flee because they don’t want to abandon their homes," said Frances Stevenson, Head of the Humanitarian Team at HelpAge International.
"Left behind and alone, they are less able to access essential supplies and services such as food, water and health care or to take care of and defend themselves against violence and abuse.
"We also know that the health needs of older people in Syria are not being addressed. Drugs for chronic diseases affecting so many older people are just not available for many."
In Lebanon and Jordan, older Syrian refugees face a similar situation reporting feelings of isolation and neglect, affecting their psychological wellbeing and impacting on their daily lives.
Older people are some of the hardest to reach in this crisis. Donors need to ensure that they remain true to their commitment of leaving no one behind and that all vulnerable groups are included.
Notes to editors: 3 February 2016 - Syrian NGO leaders on the frontline will meet in Britain one day before the global conference to say what the region needs in the short and long-term. The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London – 1300-1800 (GMT)
The following day (4 February 2016), the Syria Donors Conference 2016 will be hosted by the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the United Nations. Thirty heads of state and 50 country representatives are expected.
Interview opportunities with NGO staff are available.
International media contacts: Sarah Gillam, Media Relations Manager, HelpAge International, tel: +44 (0) 20 7148 7623; mobile: + 44 (0) 7713 567 624; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Skype: sarah.gillam.hai
Ed Knight, Media Intern, HelpAge International, tel: + 44 (0) 20 7148 7606; email: email@example.com; Skype: edward.knight.hai
HelpAge International helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives.
 United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2015). World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, DVD Edition.