New initiative for the protection of older refugees in South Sudan

from Danish Refugee Council, HelpAge International
Published on 15 Jan 2013

Through a partnership with HelpAge International (HelpAge), the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is launching an initiative focusing on the protection of older refugees, one of the most vulnerable groups in situations of displacement. The project is launched in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State where 110,000 refugees have crossed the border from Sudan during the last year.

DRC and HelpAge are now launching a new partnership that addresses the protection needs of older refugees in Yusuf Batil camp in Upper Nile State. This brings together different areas of expertise: DRC already has a strong presence in the area where they provide protection services while HelpAge has the technical expertise on protection issues related to older people, particularly in situations of displacement.

“Older people are amongst the most vulnerable refugees in Yusuf Batil camp. Every day we meet older people who have arrived alone because they couldn’t move fast enough and fell behind the others fleeing,” says Kate Norton, Country Director for DRC in South Sudan. “In a recent vulnerability assessment in the camp, 40 per cent of the men and women identified as vulnerable were above the age of 60. As older people represent 4 per cent of the overall population in the camp, this shows just how vulnerable this group is”, Norton continues.

“Unfortunately, older people are too often overlooked in policies and programmes responding to refugee situations,” says Fiona Clark, Head of Programmes for HelpAge in East, West and Central Africa. “Limited mobility, visual and hearing impairments and chronic diseases seriously hamper older people’s access to basic services. Older people are also often taking care of young dependents, creating a double protection risk. We want to fill this gap by supporting DRC to ‘age-proof’ Yusuf Batil Camp. This includes monitoring of specific protection risks of older people, providing age-friendly services and awareness raising and training for DRC and other humanitarian staff.”

HelpAge affiliate in South Sudan, the South Sudanese Older People’s organization (SSOPO) will support with the formation and accompaniment of the older people’s committees.

It is expected that a total of 1,363 older people and 6,000 dependents in Yusuf Batil camp will benefit directly from this partnership. Besides working directly with refugees, the partners will also sensitize other humanitarian actors on the ground by raising issues of ageing and displacement. The action will be closely coordinated with other humanitarian actors.