Newsletter. Challenges Faced by Elderly Displaced People

Newsletter No. 1 February 2024 Challenges Faced by Elderly Displaced People

28.02 2024

Overview of content:
Elderly Refugees
More information on the topic
Read our annual report
All manuals can be downloaded
Take a look at our new website
Upcoming events

Dear colleagues,
“The elderly are among the most invisible groups of refugees and displaced persons. I hope to change that.” Sadako Ogata, the former High Commissioner for Refugees. 


In war, conflict and humanitarian crises, the difficulties of elderly refugees often remain overlooked amidst the broader discourse. The phenomenon of ageism exacerbates their already precarious situation, combining the challenges they encounter as they navigate forced exile and seek to integrate into new societies.

Ageism, similar to other forms of discrimination such as racism and sexism, entails prejudice and negative attitudes directed towards a specific age demographic. It manifests in various forms, from subtle biases to exclusion, and can lead to profound social and psychological consequences for older individuals. In a culture that idolizes youthfulness, elderly refugees often find themselves marginalized, downgraded and ignored by the society.

For refugees, particularly those with trauma backgrounds, the difficulties are even more overwhelming. Statistics reveal that out of the 65.6 million forcibly displaced individuals worldwide, approximately 4% are aged 60 or above. However, this figure might be higher, given the limited availability of age-disaggregated data. Older refugees confront age-specific challenges, including distinct physical and mental health needs stemming from their experiences of displacement and conflict.

Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and cognitive impairments are prevalent among elderly refugees, complicating their access to humanitarian assistance and post-resettlement services. Moreover, the process of aging intersects with the challenges of integration into new communities. Unlike their counterparts in resettlement countries who have had the opportunity to gradually prepare for old age, elderly refugees must navigate these transitions in unfamiliar environments, often with limited resources.

Despite these adversities, many older refugees exhibit remarkable resilience and fortitude. They play a crucial role in preserving familial and community structures, safeguarding cultural identities amidst displacement. As Sadako Ogata, the former High Commissioner for Refugees, aptly noted, “The elderly are among the most invisible groups of refugees and displaced persons. I hope to change that.” Indeed, raising awareness of the unique challenges faced by elderly refugees is essential for fostering inclusive humanitarian responses and ensuring their dignity and well-being are upheld in displacement scenarios.

Find more information on the topic in the section below 

Elderly Refugees

In war and humanitarian crises, the difficulties of elderly refugees often remain overlooked. The phenomenon of ageism exacerbates their already precarious situation and often find themselves marginalized, downgraded and ignored in the society.

Older persons


During times of displacement, older persons have urgent rights and needs. They can be particularly at risk of abuse and neglect during conflict or natural disasters, when a lack of mobility, diminished vision and chronic illnesses can make access to ...

Practical guidelines on psychosocial health and wellbei...

2022International Centre for Migration, Health and Development

These PRACTICAL GUIDELINES have been produced to support helpers in their work. This set of guidelines focuses on elderly people who, because of their age and associated health profiles, may be especially vulnerable to uprooting and forced displaceme...

Older refugees – Integration Handbook


Older refugees face particular risks during displacement, and face additional barriers to access protection and assistance, including during resettlement and integration. Stakeholders involved throughout the integration process should develop a thoro...

Older persons in forced displacement- intersecting risk...


In 2017, 85% of displaced persons were hosted in developing regions5, where service systems, including services required by older persons, are already under pressure and capacity to scale up these systems is limited. Further, forcibly displaced older...

Facilitator’s Guide: Working with older persons i...


To strengthen the capacities of UNHCR and its partners to achieve better lives for older peoples,  this  training  module  on  Strengthening  the  protection  of  older  persons  in  forced  displacement was developed in collaboration with HelpAge  I...

Policy on Age, Gender and Diversity Accountability


The purpose of this Policy is to reinforce UNHCR’s longstanding commitment to ensuring that people are at the centre of all that we do. This requires that we apply an age, gender, and diversity (AGD) approach to all aspects of our work. Through this ...

A claim to dignity: Ageing on the move


There is little information on the situation of older persons on the move in the Latin American region. This regional evaluation is the first one to make a comprehensive analysis on the intersectionality between ageing and human mobility. The current...

Addressing the mental health needs of older adult refug...

2023Hafifa Siddiq

Older adult refugees, in particular, may be at a unique risk but are underrepresented in public health promotion programs or research. When unaddressed, mental health issues can have long-term consequences for morbidity and early mortality among olde...


“There is no health without mental health.” UN
Read our annual report and explore further into our work at Mental Health and Human Rights Info. Our mission is to enhance mental health and psychosocial interventions for those impacted by human rights violations. Through the development of training materials, educational initiatives, and practical guidance, we strive to make information accessible to everyone.

All manuals can be downloaded from the MHHRI website

There are three different manuals, which respectively address working with women, with boys and men, and with children who have experienced sexual violence.

The manuals are translated into several languages. The page numbers in each manual remain the same across languages. This allows survivors and helpers to work from copies in their preferred language and read the same content on the same pages. It also makes it easier to teach participants when participants and trainers work in more than one language. The manuals include a toolbox. Survivors can use it individually to regulate their own emotions through grounding exercises or in collaboration with a helper. Helpers can also use grounding exercises to take care of themselves as helpers.

Mental Health and Human Rights Info logo

Take a look at our new website. 
Here you will find information available on violations of human rights and mental health in disaster, war, and conflict areas. It includes a database of research, articles, guides, and organizations.

Additionally, we have our training manuals section, thematic pages covering core topics of mental health and human rights violations, a page dedicated to survivors, our newly developed Ukraine resources page, and more. Visit us!

Upcoming events

Karolinska Institutet – UNICEF Joint Conference on Global Child and Adolescent Mental Health
The conference will feature state-of-the-art research and innovations from leading minds around the world. The aims are to promote and enhance exchange between international experts and diverse stakeholders, presenting the latest research, policy and practice in global child and adolescent mental health.
May 15-16, 2024, Stockholm, Sweden.

Global Campus Summer Schools
The Global Campus’s Summers Schools are thought to give you the best international, multicultural and qualified classes in the fields of Human Rights and Democratisation. 9 – 16 March 2024, 26 August — 4 September 2024, 2 – 7 July 2018.

International Congress of Psychology
The International Council of Psychologists is a small (250 members) global organization, whose mission is to advance psychology, promote dignity, justice, and human rights and work for world peace through global exchange, 2024- July 19-20, Prague.

The SVRI Forum 2024
The world’s key research conference on violence against women, violence against children, and other forms of violence driven by gender inequality in low and middle-income countries, being held 21 – 25 October 2024 at the CTICC in Cape Town, South Africa.

The IASP Pan-American Conference
Aims to provide key regional forum opportunities to share expertise, knowledge and insights among peers in the field of suicide prevention. From 19-22 November 2024 in Minneapolis, USA.

We appreciate feedback and comments 

Welcome to our new subscribers, we hope you will find our content useful. The Mental Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is a newsletter with the aim to provide insight on a certain subject across the scope of our work; human rights violations in war and conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to deliver a newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject from a mental health perspective. You will receive our newsletter 5 times a year.

We would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions on other issues you would like to see in this newsletter or if you are planning an event on related issues, please let us know so we can include your event in our newsletter.

If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up.

Facebook and Instagram 
On our MHHRI Facebook page, and on Instagram we are continuously posting new and relevant articles that we add to our website, as well as events and videos. We also just launched our new LinkedIn page!

Sincerely yours,
Take care – and we are wishing you all the best.

Sincerely yours,

Mental Health and Human Rights Info

Copyright © 2024  MHHRI.ORG All rights reserved.

MHHRI are not responsible for the content of external websites. Links are made because we think the content might be of use. The comments and evaluation on this page are made by our staff to make the links more accessible to you, and is entirely our subjective impression of the link in relation to our context.

Our mailing address is:

Asylum seekers in Europe icon