Reports & Researches

The Palestinian Elderly in Lebanon

The Palestinian Elderly in Lebanon replace medicine with prayer and combat the challenging reality with a sense of hope and optimism


      "With a 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 sufferings.

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.

Perhaps the 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 people.

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)


Blood pressure
















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 national plans.

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.

*     UNRWA 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 insufficiently.

*     There 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:

1.     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.

2.     The Lebanese government (concerned Ministries) to include the Palestinian elderly in the necessary care.

3.     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.

4.     Palestinian political and social activities to establish special care programs for the elderly.

Beirut, 7/1/2022

Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness)