Syria crisis

More than 3.9 million people have so far fled the violence in Syria and another 7.6 million people are displaced inside Syria.

Among them are tens of thousands of older women and men who are in desperate need of assistance.

Ahmed, 67, from Lebanon suffers from diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Complications of his diabetes led to the amputation of his lower right leg.

(c) Lydia de Leeuw / Handicap International – HelpAge International

Ahmed, 67, from Lebanon suffers from diabetes and cardiovascular disease.Complications of his diabetes led to the amputation of his lower right leg.

Responding to older people's needs

HelpAge International, in partnership with Handicap International, is working in Lebanon and Jordan.

Older men and women and people with disabilities are some of the most vulnerable in conflicts. They face specific risks and their needs are very different from those of other groups.

Our teams specialists are working in local communities to identify individual older people and people with disabilities who need help.

These teams then ensure the refugees receive the help they need such as healthcare for chronic diseases.

Working in this way, with individual older people, injured and disabled people and their families, we target assistance at the most vulnerable people, helping them to survive this terrible crisis and do so with dignity.

Healthcare assistance

We're working in Lebanon with local authorities and a range of local partners including Amel, the American University of Beirut (AUB), Medecins Du Monde (MDM) and the YMCA, on reducing the impact of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and high blood pressure on older people.

We're providing drugs, such as insulin, and medical equipment to measure blood pressure and blood sugar through static and mobile clinics.

We're also ensuring that our health work is culturally sensitive by training our staff to provide information to older people on how to fast safely if they have NCDs.

Through this work we are currently reaching 500 people each month and have trained 18 medical staff. By the end of March, we would have helped 4,420 people.

Working with health authorities, we are also making sure that poor older people have access to healthcare, as most health services in Lebanon are private.

We are providing technical support to the World Food Programme and Premiere Urgence on how to include older people in their work and use them as a resource.

Disease and trauma of older refugees

We've also carried out research with Handicap International into the situation of vulnerable refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, interviewing 3,200 people.

The results highlight the fact that older refugees fleeing Syria are affected disproportionately by a variety of conditions and are facing additional difficulties to cope with their displacement.

Our work is funded by Age International and the Disasters Emergencies Committee (DEC).

Our impact so far

We have also:

  • Treated 730 older people for their chronic conditions.
  • Trained 132 doctors on World Health Organization guidelines for management of patients with NCDs and their specific needs.
  • Equipped four primary healthcare centres and two mobile medical units with medical instruments to screen for and manage diabetes and hypertension.
  • Trained more than 50 humanitarian workers on older people's health needs.
  • Published research to address the difficulties faced by older people and people with disabilities in accessing aid.