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Human Rights Center Appeals to Georgian Authorities - to Strengthen Protection of the Rights of the Elderly under the Conditions of the Pandemics

26.12.2020

 
The pandemic caused by the spread of the new coronavirus has posed special challenges to the entire world and democratic societies. Although, the devastating effects of the virus have affected the majority of the public and almost every aspect of the life, senior citizens were initially named by the World Health Organization being the group of increased risks for COVID-19.

According to the official data of the National Statistics Office of Georgia, in 2019, more than 760 thousand people across the country were receiving basic state pensions. According to a large-scale survey conducted by Geostat, in 2011, 10,616 senior citizens in the country live alone and need special care from the State through access to appropriate social services.
 
In order to fight the pandemic, the state of emergency was declared in Georgia in March 2020, which lasted for more than 2 months and had a particularly negative impact on the rights and condition of the elderly.

On March 31, 2020, the citizens over the age of 70 were prohibited from leaving their homes, except as a matter of urgency or moving to the nearest grocery store, pharmacy or medical facility. However, the ban on transportation had a particularly painful effect on the situation of the elderly living in rural areas; mainly in terms of access to grocery stores, pharmacies, medical facilities and other facilities necessary for daily living located far from their homes.

It should be noted that in order to respond to the crisis, the government, in parallel with the restrictions, has taken some steps to support the elderly. Among the measures, there was initiated the support program for lonely elderly people in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs, and local municipalities and the Georgian Red Cross Society; the support program beside facilitating the access to the means of existence had also a component of home care for those in need. The elderly, as one of the direct target groups, were included in anti-crisis plan, as a result of which from July 1, 2020, the pension to pensioners aged 70 and above was increased by an additional GEL 30 benefiting by more than 410 thousand retired senior citizens. Moreover, like other citizens, the utility bills of the households of the senior citizens with monthly electricity consumption of less than 200 kilowatts and with monthly natural gas consumption of less than 200 m3 were also subsidized for 3 months.

Nevertheless, the steps taken by the authorities to support the elderly in times of crisis were sporadic and insufficient and as a result the State failed to provide adequate and effective response to the needs of particularly vulnerable groups.

Under the new restrictions, given the scale of the health crisis and the spread of the infection, the elderly remain one of the most vulnerable groups in need of special assistance. Against the background of the crisis, the rapid and adequate response of the government to address the problems of the elderly, is of particular importance.
 
Human Rights Center calls on the Georgian authorities:

  • To strengthen the protection and promotion of the rights of the elderly, including the supply of essential food and medicines to the elderly with similar needs;
  • To provide supplementary pensions in proportion with the retirement age under the Law on Pensions; 
  • To strengthen home care services for the elderly and ensure prompt and adequate response to the needs;
  • To ensure the deferment of the financial obligations of the elderly and, if possible, subsiding them in full scope against banks and other financial institutions.
  • To take further steps for growing the awareness among the elderly and to create adequate platforms in this regard.
  • To facilitate the introduction of mobile pharmacies in villages far from the centers so that the local population, including the elderly, can purchase the necessary medicines close to homes, both during and after the pandemic;
  • To facilitate volunteer initiatives in local municipalities to make a concerted effort to exclude the elderly without the assistance they need, especially in times of pandemic.

Human Rights Center

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