Occupied Palestinian Territories
HelpAge is the only international organisation present in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) 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 started working in the occupied Palestinian territories in 2009 to support older people affected by the December 2008-January 2009 conflict. During the conflict, more than 1,300 people were killed, 3,500 injured and 100,000 displaced. Immediately after, we distributed food to older people and gave them psychosocial support to cope with the trauma. We also helped older people to restore their livelihoods and earn an income.
In 2011, HelpAge expanded its work to the West Bank, where we are now working through our Affiliate the Palestinian Center for Communication and Development Strategies (PCCDS).
Life story: Ibrahim, 78
(c) HelpAge International "I live in Shatee Camp in Gaza with my wife, children, and grandchildren and spend most of my time staying at home," says Ibrahim.
Before we met him, Ibrahim was very isolated and did not communicate with anyone. He was suffering from neck pain and had arthritis in both knees. Because of this, he spent most of the day in bed. HelpAge and El Wedad encouraged him to take part in group counselling and after three months he became more interactive and positive with other older people.
He was encouraged to talk about his experiences and worries with others and now also visits the age-friendly space. He received physiotherapy sessions and his wife was trained on how to help him with his exercises.
Ibrahim said: "My relationship with my family and friends has improved dramatically. My wife also feels better and appreciates the fact I can now leave the house and we can go together to visit our relatives."
Supporting older people in the occupied Palestinian territories
In the last year, we have helped older people in several different areas:
- With our Affiliate El Wedad in Gaza, we improved the psychological wellbeing of 690 older people through community support, including individual and group counselling sessions and recreational trips.
- We improved the mobility and thus the autonomy and wellbeing of 500 older people through physiotherapy sessions and providing mobility aids, hearing aids, eye glasses and adult diapers.
- In the Gaza Strip, we have increased the knowledge and understanding of community care givers and health providers on age-related physical and mental health conditions.
- We have set up two age-friendly spaces or "Grandparents Houses" in Hebron and Gaza City. These are spaces where older people can socialise and get information on their rights and health. They can also have physiotherapy sessions.
- We have assisted the Ministry of Health to develop specific geriatric health guidelines.
- Due to our Age Demands Action campaign in Hebron and our work with our Affiliate PCCDS and the Ministry of Health, we now have additional medical services in the Grandparents’ House.
- The Ministry of Social Affairs in the West Bank will continue to provide monetary allocations for an increasing number of older people.
In the next year, we will:
- continue improving our age-friendly spaces in the Gaza Strip and West Bank,
- continue working to improve the physical and mental health and livelihood opportunities of older people,
- continue to take part in Age Demands Action and lobby for changes in policy.
Watch our film about older people in the occupied Palestinian territories
Palestinian Association for Education and Environmental Protection (PAEEP), Ministry of Health, Hagar, Al Azhar University.