Letter to Baroness Sugg on the International Day of Older Persons
By Yasmin Qureshi MP, Member of Parliament for Bolton South East
Baroness Elizabeth Grace Sugg
King Charles Street
30 September 2020
Dear Baroness, Sugg,
International Day of Older Persons — 1st October 2020
COVID-19 has presented unique challenges to older people, as they face higher risks from the virus. For older persons who are living in refugee and internally displaced camps, COVID-19 has further exacerbated their vulnerability. In Bangladesh for example, 31,500 refugees in Cox’s Bazar are aged 60 and above. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their physical and mental health, and it is vital that they are not neglected in the global response to COVID-19.
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, older persons faced a wide range of issues, including elder abuse. Older women in particular are vulnerable to violence and abuse, due to existing harmful cultural and social norms. Financially older persons are also vulnerable, with only one in four receiving a pension in 2014. In 2018-2019, millions of older persons in lower income countries survived on less than 60p per day. Older persons also face additional health challenges, with long term chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, dementia, diabetes and strokes accounting for nearly 90% of the global disease burden for those aged over 60 living in lower and middle-income countries. Natural disasters also threaten older persons, with over 25 million being affected each year, and their needs are not met.
Older persons are a significant and ever-expanding part of the global population. The Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations has predicted that the global population of older persons is projected to reach 1.5 billion by 2050. The Global South is expected to be home to the majority of these older persons. It is therefore essential that older people are a key part of future Foreign Commonwealth and Development office programmes.
On the thirtieth International Day of Older Persons, I urge you to look again at how our international aid supports older people globally. It is essential that the specific needs of older persons are met, which is why I am calling on the UK government to ensure the implications of a growing ageing population are reflected in the work of the FCDO throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. It is vital that the FCDO work with international partners to strengthen global coalitions which ensure that aid is effectively targeted on those in greatest need, and that the government looks across its development aid to ensure this includes older persons. We also believe it is time for a UN Convention on the Rights of Older People and urge the government to work with nations around the world to that end.
Yasmin Qureshi MP
Shadow International Development Minister
View letter at: Letter from MP Yasmin Qureshi to Baroness Sugg