Older People in Humanitarian Crises: Forgotten Generation

‘Poverty was the cause of the emergency, poverty made it difficult for me to survive the emergency and now I’m still poor’. This comment from an older Rwandan woman who survived the 1994 genocide is a stark reminder that humanitarian crises and poverty blight the lives of old and young alike. Yet older people are often invisible to policy makers.

The World Today
5 minute READ

Lesley-Anne Knight

Emergencies Manager of HelpAge International

The UN Secretary General’s Millennium Report – We The Peoples – focuses on freedom from want and freedom from fear, pointing to extreme poverty and conflict as key impediments to development. The needs of young people receive most attention. More than a billion people are now aged between fifteen and twenty–four, and nearly forty percent of the world’s population is below twenty.

But a missing dimension in this picture is the worldwide growth in the numbers of people who live beyond the age of sixty. The Secretary General, Kofi Annan, reports ‘dramatic increases in life expectancy’ – from 46 to 64 years since the 1960s in developing countries. But he does not explore the implications of this demographic change.

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