Examining the needs of some overlooked Syrian refugees

A new report from the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center takes an in-depth look at the situation of older Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

cover“We know from experience that older persons suffer in silence, quietly stepping aside so that younger members of their families can access services and aid,” said Father Simon Faddoul, president of Caritas Lebanon. “Our Christian faith compels us to seek out those who may be left behind and ensure that they are reached by our expression of faith.”

The report, “Forgotten Voices: An Insight Into Older Persons Among Refugees From Syria in Lebanon,” looks at the demographics, nutrition and physical and mental health of the older members of the more than 700,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

“Despite our experience in working with older Palestinians, we were taken aback by the findings of this study,” said Kamal Sioufi, president of the board of the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center.

The report recommended that older people be prioritized as a specific target population of assistance programs. For instance, it said, they need help in managing chronic illness; assistance with mobility to reduce dependency; and they often need “older person dignity kits” such as incontinence pads, a walking stick or a bed rail.

The report also said they need assistance with mental health. For instance, it said, “older refugees who did not have a friend to care for them were significantly more likely to feel depressed and lonely than those who did have a friend. In addition, many older refugees did not take into consideration that they might be able to provide psychosocial support to younger members of their households.”

Among other recommendations, it said social workers needed to be aware that older people often were overlooked in households. Social workers “should prioritize unaccompanied older persons or older persons without care-takers,” it added.

3 Responses

  1. The vulnerable are always the very young the very old and those without a support system of friends or family. History teaches us they are the ones most likely to succumb to adverse conditions and with fall approaching the risks will go up. A brief glance at the statistics reveals a majority of the elderly are women. Many of the elderly have chronic diseases which require management. Many are Palestinians who were driven out of Israel and now find themselves driven from Syria. This is going to take more than handouts of blankets and food. We must have a negotiated settlement to this crisis with all brought to the table and it must happen sooner rather than later. Obama’s plan will put that further in the future. It will increase the numbers of refugees and risks war spreading into neighboring areas. Time to tell your people in congress: NO to Obama’s plan of bombing! Call for an IMMEDIATE cease fire! Increase pressure for a negotiated settlement with representation from all parties. AND INCREASED HUMANITARIAN AID

  2. Jim, your insight & recommendation is satisfying to read. The current trend of muck & mire of posts on social network sites these days is frustrating to read. None of it seems useful anymore than neighborhood gossip does. Here is my question; what can the everyday person do to help?

  3. Tina, I certainly don’t have all the answers. I believe we need to listen to Pope Francis and pray, “”How I wish that all men and women of good will would look to the cross, if only for a moment,” he said. “There, we can see God’s reply: violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death. In the silence of the cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue and peace is spoken.”
    I think the everyday person can help by giving witness to the truth. Today on the radio I heard minority groups in Syria fear genocide if the radical Islamists which comprise a good portion of the rebels win. According to the New York Times, “Peter W. Galbraith, a former American ambassador who witnessed ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, made a chilling prediction. “The next genocide in the world,” he said, “will likely be against the Alawites in Syria.” Christian groups are also fearful. A negotiated settlement is the only hope against bloody reprisals and hope for the return of refugees. There is no guarantee whatsoever that US strikes will facilitate that. There are going to be a lot of emotional appeals to the American people during the coming days. This is fast becoming a proxy war with weapons coming in from many directions. Doesn’t matter which direction this thing tilts. Unless a negotiated settlement is reached a lot of people are going to die and or become refugees.

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