The Palestinian Elderly in Lebanon replace
medicine with prayer and combat the challenging reality with a sense of hope
feeling of pain, I sleep and wake up every day”. This
is what the Palestinian elderly refugee, Moh’d Aleyyan, had said, he who have
always refused surrender or debility, awaiting hopefully for a compassionate
hand that would wipe off his buried agony.
Hajj Moh’d suffers from lung fibrosis,
backaches, shortness in breath, and asthma. He can no longer afford the high
expenses of his basic medicines, so instead he replaces them by prayers raised
by his wrinkled hands that embrace in their folds the story of endless
First: Aim of This Report
The elderly Palestinian category is the most
vulnerable group that needs special care and assistance, as there are no
solicitude institutions. The economic and social crisis that is afflicting
Lebanon has made Palestinian refugees in general, and the elderly in
particular, more vulnerable and marginalized. There are no reports that shed
lights on this category. Hence, its importance is to remind all concerned
parties of their moral and legal responsibilities
Second: Numbers of Palestinian Elderly in Lebanon
The elderly Palestinians are considered one
of the most important pillars of Palestinian societal balance. They (50 years
and over) constitute 6.6% of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, according to
the population census of Palestinian refugees, which amounts to about 174,000
people, which was conducted in 2017. (Noting that UNRWA statistics indicate a
number of more than 500,000 refugees).
Third: The Elderly and Corona Crisis
The elderly Palestinians have been
witnessing lots of obstacles and pain that hinder their comfortable living
including Catastrophe, displacement, and civil wars in which they lost their
valuable assets, not to mention the struggle of asylum and disenfranchisement
of the simplest human rights.
past two years (2020 and 2021) were the severest for the elderly Palestinians
in Lebanon. The most prominent challenge in this regard is the Corona crisis,
which has accompanied the economic one. This category of the Palestinian people
is in direct confrontation with the Corona virus and its effects, as their immunity
is vulnerable compared to other age groups. This makes them more susceptible to
infection than others. Also, access to health centers has become more complicated;
this is if these centers even open their doors and provide them with the
necessary medicines, or if this group had the financial ability to afford their
expenses in the first place. This crisis was seriously reflected in the reality
of the elderly, as things became challenging, except for the help of some good
Fourth: How Do
Elderly Deal with The Medication Scarcity
The features of medication scarcity crisis have started to appear right
away after the popular demonstrations in 17th of October 2020. Then
this dilemma exacerbated with the social and economic crisis that have all in
turn afflicted Lebanon. The cover that
the Lebanese state has provided for many medicines, has begun to unfold
gradually especially for chronic diseases medicines. The crisis was represented
by two things, the first being the medicines’
loss from markets and pharmacies, and then the dramatic increase in their prices.
With all its bitter details, Palestinian
elderly live this reality where they can’t purchase medicines with high prices,
so they are forced to get the least expensive ones.
In the past, 300,000 L.L was enough to
buy about 12 types of medicine, some of which may last more than a month, such
as vitamin D and iron, but today the cost of these medicines is twice what they
used to be before, as the elderly needs about one million six hundred thousand Lebanese
lira per month (1,600,000 LL). This cost is expected to rise daily.
Table Showing the Increasing Prices of
Different Types of Medicines
Type of medicine
Price before crisis (L.L)
Current price (L.L)
Prevention of formation of blood clots
Fifth: United Nations principles relating to the elderly:
The General Assembly of the United Nations
adopted the "United Nations Principles relating to Old People"
through an important resolution (46/91) on December 16, 1991. The 18 principles
fall into four sections: independence, participation, care, self-realization
and dignity. To give this group special attention, it emphasized the rights of the
elderly to access health care to help them maintain the optimal level of
physical, mental and emotional safety, and to prevent them from disease or
delay their infection, and encouraged governments to include it in their
Sixth: Main Abstracts concerning Palestinian Elderly in Lebanon:
Lebanon's economic and social crisis has
directly affected the elderly in terms of providing medicines, electricity,
water and other basic needs.
Corona crisis has left direct consequences
on the Palestinian elderly in Lebanon.
There are no UNRWA programs that address the
Palestinian elderly in Lebanon in particular.
sometimes works to transfer some of them to care centers and infirmary, especially
those who do not have children or breadwinners, or those who suffer from
psychological and neurological diseases (Deir Al-Saleeb Center as an example).
There is a lack of interest on the part of
the Palestinian Liberation Organization in the elderly group.
NGOs provide some services but
are the "United Nations Principles
relating to Old People” by which UNRWA must consider.
Seventh: Essential Recommendations:
Based on its human rights work in
monitoring and following up the rights of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and
based on the data received regarding the elderly group of Palestinian refugees
in terms of their reality and needs, the Palestinian Association for Human
Rights (Witness) demands the following:
Direct attention from UNRWA for Palestinian
elderly, working on sustaining the necessary health care, providing them with
basic medicine, and assisting them with monthly financial aid.
The Lebanese government (concerned
Ministries) to include the Palestinian elderly in the necessary care.
International organizations operating in
Lebanon to provide urgent and sustainable aid to Palestinian refugees,
including the elderly, and coordinate with UNRWA and NGOs in this regard.
Palestinian political and social activities
to establish special care programs for the elderly.
Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness)