The Nova Kakhovka dam breach in southern Ukraine poses a significant risk to older people due to the large number who have remained in the area since the Russian invasion last year.
It will be difficult for many to evacuate and relocate due to physical, sensory, and cognitive impairments, and they will need specific and targeted support in order to reach safety.
While the breach has affected hundreds of thousands of lives—which will further exacerbate the ongoing humanitarian crisis caused by the war—older people are expected to face the greatest challenges due to flooding and loss of power.
“During this war, many older people remained in their homes, either because of reduced mobility or because they fear the uncertainty of displacement. They will need information and assistance in evacuation, as well as support in mitigating power and water outages. Their particular needs require specific arrangements to be made in the response efforts,” says Dimitrije Todorovic, HelpAge’s Ukraine Country Director.
HelpAge is calling on those providing emergency assistance to ensure that the rights and needs of older people are included in their response plans by considering the following factors:
- Evacuation must include support for older people with disabilities and other at-risk groups and their caregivers, particularly in hard-to-reach areas.
- Emergency shelters and relief points must ensure that older people are prioritized and received with dignity.
- Support services must consider older people’s specific health, safety, psychosocial, and mobility needs, as well as further referrals.
- Relocation to temporary accommodation must consider the requirements of older people and people with disabilities, in consultation with them.
- Communication with the people affected at all stages must be in a language they understand, and information must be communicated via multiple mediums and in accessible formats.
HelpAge has been supporting older people in Ukraine since 2014. We work in the Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Lviv, Chernivtsi, and Ivano Frankivsk regions, including in shelters and centers for the displaced. Our staff and volunteers are supporting older people in our program areas to ensure that they are safe and can access the services they need. We are also working closely with local and international partners to further support and advocate for the rights of older Ukrainians in the face of the new wave of displacement.