Dr. Kelly Fitzgerald received her master’s and doctoral degrees in gerontology from the University of Massachusetts Boston (USA) and a Master of Public Administration from Georgia State University (USA). She currently lives in Switzerland and is a Guest Scientist for the University of Zürich Center for Gerontology, Senior Scientist and Part Time Adjunct Graduate Faculty at the Center for Gerontology at Western Kentucky University (WKU) (US) and Associate Lecturer for the University of Massachusetts Boston. She teaches online courses in aging policy, organizational change, age-friendly communities and global aging at the undergraduate and graduate level. Her current research and teaching areas of interest include age-friendly communities, disasters, and older refugees.
In addition to numerous publications and presentations in multiple countries, Dr. Fitzgerald has served on several committees for the Gerontological Society of America (GSA), the British Society of Gerontology, and the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) (currently Co-Chair of the Global Aging Committee and Chair of the Annual Meeting Committee), and the International Association for Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG). She is a GSA and AGHE Fellow. She serves as the advisor for the Virtual/International Chapter for Sigma Phi Omega, the International Academic Honor and Professional Society in Gerontology, and serves on the editorial boards of two journals. She represents the IFA as the United Nations (UN) NGO representative in Geneva, Switzerland, and is currently the Vice-Chair of the NGO Committee on Ageing in Geneva.
Raising Awareness About Older refugees at the United Nations and Beyond
Older adults comprise a small segment of the global refugee population. However, they are equally or potentially more at risk for having their human rights and needs overlooked or under addressed. There is a significant gap in the literature that provides guidance for appropriate response to the age-specific needs of older refugees. Over the last two years the NGO Committee on Ageing, Geneva (United Nations (UN)) has worked to increase the visibility and recognition of older refugees’ right to age appropriate response and care. The NGO Committee has also worked to draw attention to older refugees as a valuable resource. The purpose of these activities was to inform and increase awareness within the UN community that older refugees have specific age-related needs that are often not included under disabilities, are at risk of discrimination and their human rights being violated but that they are also a valuable resource for displaced and host communities more broadly. In return, the increased awareness of the issues around older refugees will ideally improve a coordinated response to refugee situations, including by government, UN, NGOs, the private sector, academia and affected communities themselves. This paper will focus on the work conducted by the NGO Committee including sessions held at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and oral and written recommendations submitted to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to inform the development of the new Global Compact on Refugees; a new framework for refugee response. The paper describes the process and outcomes from the work conducted at the UN and offers recommendations for further actions.