Elderly Rohingya refugees vulnerable, need specialist support

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people are fleeing from Myanmar into Bangladesh, to escape life-threatening conflict and violence. Older people caught in this crisis are extremely vulnerable; Age International is working to provide age-friendly aid to older refugees in Cox’s Bazar.

The Rohingya were already some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people – now they have fled in fear for their lives, able to carry almost nothing with them.

When they arrive in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, there is barely any infrastructure to support their makeshift settlements with minimal shelter or hygiene facilities.

Elderly – too weak to walk – are being carried

According to the UNHCR, refugees like 80-year-old Amina walked for 15 days to reach safety in Bangladesh. ‘I had to rest, because I am old. It was so difficult,’ she says.

Those who are too weak to walk the many miles to safety, are being carried into Bangladesh by their relatives – some in makeshift hammocks made from sticks and cloth. Many more are being left behind.

Mabia Khtun, 75, was carried through the jungle in a blanket. ‘I am unable to walk,’ she explains. According to the UNHCR ‘it is hours since she last drank’ and ‘she is wilting’.

£32 could pay for a health support team for 2 days >

Older refugees require specialist age-friendly aid

During emergencies, older people need specialist aid – food packs they can easily carry and open, with food they can chew and digest. They can’t stand for hours in queues or wait for aid.

Refugees have arrived in Bangladesh exhausted and hungry. They have travelled and arrived in monsoon season. The heavy rains are making an already terrible situation even worse – shelters have flooded, and the risk of illness and disease is high.

Older people are vulnerable to illnesses; a cold can mean the difference between life and death. Older refugees need specialist medicines and medical advice.
£64 could pay for a health support team for 4 days >

Age International working with local partners to provide medical aid, clean water and sanitation

Age International is supporting our partner in Bangladesh to respond to the needs of older people in this crisis. Mobile medical units are being set up to reach those most at risk, including the frail and elderly, with specialised health teams and essential medical supplies.

We will also provide health information and services through outreach teams, set up latrines, and distribute clean water and hygiene kits to older people and their families.

£115 could pay for half a day’s medical supplies for a mobile medical unit >

Media contact details

Contact our Senior Media Officer, Sara Guy, for spokespeople: 
Telephone:020 303 31466
Out-of-hours: 07071 243 243

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