ADJUMANI. The older persons in Maaji refugee settlement in Adjumani district have appealed to aid agencies and the office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to address their deteriorating conditions of living.

Key among the challenges spelt out was the long distance to food distribution centers that the elderly find difficult to access.

The older persons among the refugee communities were speaking on the occasion to mark the international day of older persons with the theme of upholding the rights of older persons during the COVID-19 pandemic, a call for action.

Ms. Rosemary Asienzo who presented a Memo on behalf of the older persons pointed out that there is an urgent need to address some of the challenges facing the older persons if they are to live a dignified life.

Mr. Abelino Tongu, 67 a visually impaired man said he lost his sight at the age of one and a half but was able to survive the hard times as well as raising his family of seven children.

He asked the youth to support their elderly parents if they are to attain a longer age, while acknowledging that it was a special privilege to live this long.

Mr. Dominic Opilu who is the chairperson of the association of older persons in Maaji refugee settlement said, through their association of the older persons, they have been able to restore peace in the settlement after the tribal clash in April this year.

“I have now seen that, Ma’dis, Dinkas and the Nuer can now eat, share and sit together, which was not the case before” Opilu stated.

Helpage international and Uganda reach the age association have actively been advocating for the inclusion of older people in South Sudanese response programs.

Ms. Emily Kemigisha the country representative Helpage international in Uganda remarked that, it is necessary to protect the rights of the older persons during the COVID-19 pandemic by creating a conducive environment to have access to basic rights like housing, feeding and access to medication.

The Adjumani refugee desk officer Mr. Titus Jogo who officiated hailed the elders in the settlement for taking the mantle to resolve the inter-tribal conflict that ensued in April this year.

Jogo promised that the elders will be a priority in the next phase of planning since they have numerous challenges yet they are key persons in conflict management.

Mr Titus JMr Titus Jogo addressing the elders at Maaji

He appealed to the older persons to keep observing the guidelines issued by the ministry of health to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Adjumani district hosts 211,858 refugees of which 64,000 are older persons according to data from the United Nations high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR).