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.