Older People on the Edge of Survival in Eastern Ukraine

Older people living in sub-zero conditions and heavily shelled areas of Eastern Ukraine desperately need food, clean drinking water, and medication, according to a survey released today.  

The survey taken by HelpAge International staff and volunteers offers a glimpse of the conditions older people in the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk are already facing.

The organization’s network of volunteers carried out the survey of more than 1,500 people over 60 as they continued to make phone calls to older people to provide emotional support as shelling targeted the region.

The survey reveals:

  • Almost all older people in the region (99%) do not want to be evacuated from their homes.
  • Nine out of 10 (91%) need help to get food because they have mobility issues and many live alone.
  • Active shelling and airstrikes are disrupting water supplies, leaving 79% of older people reporting insufficient access to clean drinking water.
  • More than one-third (34%) are in urgent need of medication for chronic diseases like diabetes, blood pressure, and pain relief.
  • 91% report they are experiencing electricity cuts, with no way to warm their homes in freezing conditions. Many older people need thermal blankets.
  • Three-quarters (75%) need hygiene items like toothpaste, soap, adult diapers, and toilet paper, all vital to help prevent infection.

Justin Derbyshire, HelpAge International’s CEO says: “It is heart-breaking to hear what is happening in Ukraine and the terrible hardship that older people are facing, most often alone.

Our staff and network of incredible volunteers are continuing to contact older people who are unable to leave, and we are determined to do all we can to get the assistance they need to them.”

Older people make up a third of all people in need of assistance in Ukraine, making this conflict the “oldest” humanitarian crisis in the world. One in four people in Ukraine are over 60-years-old and Ukraine has the largest percentage of older people affected by conflict in a single country in the world.

HelpAge has been operating in Ukraine since 2014 and has a network of partners and volunteers to provide dedicated support to older people. Together they were working with 4,800 people along the contact line.

At the start of this conflict, 2.9 million people were already in need of humanitarian assistance in Ukraine.

Olga, 71, told staff: “I constantly hear explosions, and I don’t know if they will reach me.” 

The survey will help identify and prioritize the emergency response, which is focusing on getting food, water, and hygiene items to those who need it most.

This article was originally posted by HelpAge International

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