Eastern DRC: Responding to Older People's Needs
By Sarah Marzouk
HelpAge is extremely concerned about the continuing violence and humanitarian crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Reports of violence, looting and killings continue, including in Mugunga III internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, in North Kivu province, which hosts some 30,000 people.
Elson Malamu, HelpAge's Program Manager in DRC said: "The lack of humanitarian access continues to be a major constraint due to the insecurity caused by armed groups.
"Humanitarian actors desperately need more funds and support to address the gravity of the situation. Older people in IDP camps are extremely vulnerable and urgently need support, including food, basic items and shelter."
140,000 in need of emergency shelter
Although the central bank has resumed operations and shops are starting to re-open, people are struggling to resume their daily lives. Indeed, UNHCR estimates that some 140,000 people are in need of emergency shelter and 60,000 are in need of basic items, such as clothes, in North Kivu.
Susanne is 60 and living in Mugunga III camp. She said: "We fled the conflict two weeks ago. My husband and I are staying in a primary school very close to the camp. We are here with four children and four grandchildren.
"Several people were killed in our village and our houses were destroyed. We don't know now whether we will go back. We are dying of hunger even though we have left fields full of crops behind us."
Supporting older people
HelpAge and our older people's associations are currently supporting older people in Mugunga III.
Esdras, 62, and the president of HelpAge's older people's association in Mugunga III commented: "We have taken in 600 older people from North Kivu where the violence broke out again two weeks ago to HelpAge's older people's centre.
"We have done as much as we can to make sure that the oldest people and children have food. We were able to take in the new arrivals thanks to the social centre that was built by HelpAge."
We are also providing direct assistance to older people and their families by:
- registering new cases of displaced older people,
- providing more than 110 vulnerable older people with food and other basic items such as clothes and soap,
- giving cash transfer to more than 110 vulnerable older people,
- providing healthcare to 1,228 older people.
Poor living conditions and sanitation facilities in the IDP camps increase the risk of disease and sickness in displaced people. HelpAge, through our older people's association, continues to be in charge of referring older people in Mugunga III for appropriate geriatric care.