The hostilities that erupted in Gaza on 8 July caused a humanitarian crisis affecting most of the 1.8 million people in Gaza, including over 110,000 older women and men.

Over 2,000 people were killed, the great majority of them civilians, and the data shows a disproportionately high number of older people among those who lost their lives.

HelpAge staff member surrounded by rubble in Gaza

(c) HelpAge International

HelpAge staff member surrounded by rubble in Gaza.

The situation of older men and women

There are over 110,000 older women and men in Gaza aged 55 and above. Older people face particular problems as a result of their age.

Most older people suffer from chronic health conditions such as heart disease. diabetes and arthritis and are facing major challenges accessing medical treatment. Indeed, a survey conducted by HelpAge in Gaza in 2012 found over 63% of people aged 60 and over have one or more chronic illnesses.

Additionally, many of the older men and women in Gaza are disabled; our survey found 25% of older men and 19% of older women have a disability.

The majority of older people are very poor – 75% of older people were living below the poverty line, our survey showed.

About 8,000 older people in Gaza live alone without traditional family support and many older women of them are widows.

What is HelpAge doing?

HelpAge has been working in Gaza since 2009 and is the only international organisation specialised in working with older people.

We have a team of dedicated staff Gaza who work with volunteers, local older people’s committees and with local partner organisations to identify older people's needs, such as those who are living alone.

Our team contacted over 1,300 older people to provide information and advice on how to access available services, as well as psychosocial support.

Our response so far has included:

  • Distributing hygiene kits - containing soap, toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc... - as well as adult diapers to 1,200 older people.
  • Distributing kitchen kits to 400 older people and shelter kits to a further 400 older people whose houses have been destroyed in the conflict.
  • Distributing mobility aids to 200 older people, such as wheelchairs, walking sticks and walkers.
  • Working with our Affiliate El Wedad to provide psychosocial support for over 700 older people who have been affected by the conflict.
  • Conducting field visits to check the health needs of over 1,300 older people and referring them to other services.
  • Working with the World Food Programme and Oxfam to provide vouchers to 1,400 people to support them to buy food and other essential items.
  • Running an age-friendly space 6 days a week. The space was visited by around 70 older people per day, who were provided with hot meals.