Occupied Palestinian Territories
HelpAge is the only international organisation in the occupied Palestinian territories that focuses on the needs of older people. We recognise that older people are an important minority with specific needs in terms of protection, healthcare and livelihoods.
We began working in the Gaza Strip in January 2009 to support older people affected by the December 2008 and January 2009 conflict. We expanded our work to the West Bank in 2011 by partnering with the Palestinian Center for Communication and Development Strategies (PCCDS).
We are responding to the latest conflict, which erupted in Gaza in July 2014. It has caused a humanitarian crisis affecting most of the 1.8 million people in Gaza, including 110,000 older people.
Life story: Salwa, 65
(c) HelpAge International Salwa, 65, is from Shejaiya – one of the worst hit areas of Gaza by the most recent conflict. She has diabetes and hypertension.
Her family wanted to find somewhere to live on the ground floor because Salwa can’t walk. They couldn’t find anything suitable, so they are living in a store in Gaza City. There is no running water so they are currently getting water from the nearby mosque.
During the war, Salwa had to go to the hospital twice but luckily they had the medication she needed in stock.
Her home is partially damaged, mainly the windows and doors. However, it’s still not possible or safe for her and her family to return.
She was very happy with her hygiene kit and said: "It's exactly what I needed. Thank god you’re thinking about me and my family. The kit contains items that the whole family can use."
Supporting older people in the occupied Palestinian territories
In the last year, we have helped older people in several different areas:
- We have distributed hygiene kits and household items such as soap and toilet paper to 800 older people.
- We have contacted older people via telephone to provide information and advice on how to access available services.
- We have procured mobility aids, such as wheelchairs and walking sticks for older people affected.
- Working with our Affiliate El Wedad, we are providing psychosocial support for 700 older people who have been affected by the latest conflict.
- We have continued to work through age-friendly spaces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to provide older people with information on their rights and health and physiotherapy sessions.
- With our partner, the Society for the Old and Disabled, we have organised social activities in the age-friendly spaces to bring older people together.
Food security and livelihoods
- We have started a project to provide direct food assistance and restore the livelihoods of 1,000 households of vulnerable older people in the Gaza Strip.
- We have worked with the Ministry of Health to produce specific geriatric health guidelines.
- Through our Affiliate PCCDS, we have secured additional medical services for the age-friendly space in the West Bank.
- 11,400 older people have received free health insurance through a Ministry of Social Affairs programme.
- The Palestinian Medical Relief Society has joined our Age Demands Action campaign and now hosts free medical days for older people.
- As a result of our Age Demands Action campaign, Dr Yousef, the manager of the general directorate for hospitals will ask all hospitals to include older people in a list of priority groups for surgery and waiting lists.
- We will respond to older people's most urgent needs following the recent conflict.
- We will continue setting up age-friendly spaces in the Gaza strip and West Bank.
- We will continue our Age Demands Action campaign to bring about policy change for older people.