Up to 14 million older people with disabilities are currently affected by humanitarian emergencies and, even though they are among the most at risk, a new study reveals how they routinely face barriers that limit their access to assistance and protection.
Missing millions: how older people with disabilities are excluded from humanitarian response is launched today (30 April) by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and HelpAge International.
Although there is increasingly a focus on including older people and people with disabilities in humanitarian efforts, the study found that people who are both older and disabled risk having their rights to safe and dignified assistance and protection denied.
The study drew upon a comprehensive literature review, data analysis, and interviews with older people affected by crises in Tanzania and Ukraine. It reveals how older people with disabilities fared worse than those without disabilities, and how this is related to various physical and institutional barriers, as well as hostile attitudes.
Data analysis revealed that between 7.8 and 13.7 million older people with disabilities are currently affected by humanitarian crises. It showed that these people, compared to older people without disabilities, are more likely to have been out of work, have a serious health problem, spend more than a quarter of their income on healthcare, be unable to participate in community life, and rate their quality of life as poor.
A person’s capacity to survive a humanitarian crisis correlates with their health and financial status. Those with money and good health are better able to escape and live elsewhere than those who have little money and poor health.