HelpAge is the only international organisation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) focusing on the needs of older people.
In January 2009 HelpAge began working in the Gaza Strip to support older people affected by the 2008-9 conflict.
Through our affiliate Palestinian Center for Communication and Development Strategies (PCCDS) we expanded our work in 2011 to deliver services to older people in the West Bank.
Life story: Marzouqa, 77
Marzouqa is one of 1.2 million registered refugees in Gaza.
She lives in a tiny container-like shed with her goats just next door, after her home was destroyed in the recent conflict. She has no pension and no land. She makes her living by selling the goat kids. (c) Sarah Gillam/HelpAge International
As a registered refugee, Marzouqa receives a food package every three months with rice, flour, oil and beans, but it’s not always available and is often not enough.
“I need to have enough income to eat. I hope my grandchildren have a better future than me and that they complete their education and find work,” she said.
During the ceasefire a trained volunteer visited her and assessed her situation. She was theen awarded a food voucher.
“I was very relieved to receive the food voucher,” she said. “It meant we could go to a supermarket and choose the food we needed rather than just have food given to us.”
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.