Protection of senior citizens displaced by conflicts and natural calamities in Africa should be prioritized by governments as part of efforts to promote the continent's socioeconomic transformation agenda, campaigners said on Monday.
HelpAge International said in a statement released in Nairobi that governments and humanitarian actors have obligations to strengthen social safety nets for elderly refugees.
"Governments have within their jurisdiction the power to uphold human rights for older people in migration and dismantle any specific barriers that older people face to access protection and access services within humanitarian response," said Roseline Kihumba, HelpAge International's Africa regional policies coordinator.
The 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union is taking place in Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa under the theme of "the year of refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons: towards durable solution to forced displacement in Africa."
African leaders, heads of multilateral agencies, industry executives and campaigners attending the meeting are expected to adopt sweeping resolutions to ease the continent's refugee burden.
According to UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of people who fled their homes due to conflicts in Africa reached 18.4 million by the end of 2017.
Campaigners regretted that elderly persons have borne the brunt of forced migration in the sub-Saharan African region linked to civil strife and natural calamities.
Kihumba said that displaced persons who are advanced in age are at higher risk of starvation, physical abuse, neglect and life threatening ailments. She called on African states to speed up ratification of global and regional treaties that advance protection of the rights of older people in emergency settings.