Humanitarian response to Venezuelan crisis must stop neglecting the needs of older people


  • Press releases and public statements

• 21% feel they are unable to cope, with 65% requiring additional
support in order to be able to do so.
• Almost half of older people do not feel safe to access healthcare
or food, while 37% don’t feel safe accessing drinking water.
• Three quarters of 75% of older people report that health
services do not have medicines available.
Bogota, Colombia – Older people are being overlooked and neglected by
those responding to the current political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela,
according to research carried out by Venezuela’s Convite, in partnership with
global NGO, HelpAge International.
Research carried out across three states in Venezuela has revealed that the
majority of older people are unable to access the food and medication they
need and are often left to fend for themselves without sufficient funds or
resources to obtain the necessary supplies.
More than half of Venezuela’s older people cannot afford to buy food, with onein-ten of them going to bed hungry every night. 80% report that they cannot
get hold of the kind of food that they are able or want to eat, while three
quarters are unable to obtain the medicines they need.
“The specific needs of older people have been very much over-looked in the
response to the humanitarian consequences of Venezuela’s current crisis,
leaving them without food, medication or peace of mind,” said Luis Francisco
Cabeza CEO of Convite. “Our research has shown the extent to which their
needs are being ignored, leaving a worrying 21% of our older generation
unable to cope.”
“One of the most worrying figures that came to light was that hardly any of
Venezuela’s older people have even been consulted about how the current
crisis is affecting them. 97% of those we spoke to said that no humanitarian
agencies had been in touch with them to ask what help they needed or how
this should be delivered,” said Luis Francisco of Convite. 
More than half of the older people in Venezuela are currently relying on family
and friends to meet their basic needs. But 35% of those in need of support
are, in turn, responsible for the care of children and/or other older people,
raising issues of protection.
“You cannot mount an effective response to any humanitarian crisis unless you
address the very specific needs of older people. They are often the most
vulnerable, in need of medication, assistive devices and food, but they are
easy to ignore. This is particularly worrying for the many who carry the
responsibility of care for others more needy than themselves,” said Andrew
Collodel, Head of Humanitarian Team of HelpAge International.
“The research that we have worked with Convite to deliver shows the extent to
which humanitarian aid needs to adopt a more inclusive approach to older
people, ensuring that support is put in place which prioritises the needs for
medicine, food and fuel of what can be a very vulnerable part of our society,”
said Andrew Collodel of HelpAge International.
As a result of the data revealed in this survey, those working to provide aid in
Venezuela are being encouraged to provide sufficient cash to older people to
ensure food can be purchased by them. This could include inclusive, one-off or
short-term cash transfers designed for those who have incurred a burden of
Outreach and home-based care should also be made available to older people
at risk as part of protection interventions. Transport should also be provided to
health centres or mobile medical services for those who cannot access them
and stocks of affordable, essential medication should be ensured.
Notes to editors:
Convite’s research with HelpAge International support was made to 903
women (51%) and men (49%) aged 50 and over in states in Venezuela:
Bolivar for its proximity with the Brazilian border, Lara because its high
concentration of older people and Miranda due to its economic diversity.
• 46% of the older people answered that they are living with a disability.
Rates are higher for women (50%) than men (41%).
• Pension is equivalent to US$2 a month in Venezuela -basic food necessities
is US$122 per month.
• 23% of older population lives alone, and they are easily missed by the
Download the full English (449 kb) and Spanish (426 kb) report of older people in Venezuela.
About HelpAge International
HelpAge International helps older people claim their rights, challenge
discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure,
active and healthy lives. Our work is strengthened through our global network
of like-minded organisations – the only one of its kind in the world.
About Convite
Convite works for the guarantee and exercise of social, economic and cultural
rights. The social inclusion, equity, participation and comprehensive care of
children, teenagers, young people, older people, people with disabilities,
people in risk situations, communities and people in the framework of respect
for diversity in Venezuela.
For more information contact: Whendy Ruiz, Regional Communications
Officer at HelpAge LAC. Email: