Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Kenya: Helping older people in the wake of violence

Older people caught up in post-election violence in Kenya are being helped by HelpAge International, in partnership with Help the Aged (UK), HelpAge Kenya and the Kenya Red Cross Society.

Violence erupted in Kenya following the Dec. 27 election that returned President Mwai Kibaki. Alleging vote rigging, supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga began attacks on a tribal basis, burning homes and fighting with police. More than 600 people have been killed since then and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.

Currently, in and around the capital Nairobi, hundreds of older people are receiving emergency food because they have been displaced by the violence, or it has prevented them from earning money through their small businesses.

On January 16, HelpAge International reported on its website that it had already distributed appropriate food to many hundreds of older people, and was working to ensure that other relief agencies and the authorities recognize and address the particular needs of older people in this emergency.

Older residents of camps set up to accommodate people fleeing the violence report that the authorities do not register their age and that as a result their specific needs are sidelined.

Older people's positive role

In Kenya, as in many emergency situations, older people are among the most vulnerable, but they also have a positive role to play, the agency states.

“For instance in Nakuru, a town in the Rift Valley where deaths have occurred due to post-election violence, dozens of older people are hosting displaced families and relatives.”

As well as recording how and where older people have been affected by violence and assisting them, HelpAge International and HelpAge Kenya staff will advise both governmental and non-governmental agencies caring for internally displaced people on:

• The need to register adults at camps for internally displaced people by age group;

• Ensuring that health facilities set up in the camps can recognise the particular medical needs of older people;

• The need for particular psycho-social support for older people;

• Recognising and supporting older people who are caring for other family or community members; and

• The potential for older people to play a valuable role in the displaced community.

Established in 1983, HelpAge International is the global network of not-for-profit organisations that works to improve the lives of disadvantaged older people.

Source: http://www.seniorsdaily.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1039&Itemid=89


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