Elderly, and people with disabilities are unable to escape war

According to the data provided by Voice Of America, with reference to the UK Disaster Emergency Committee alliance of leading charity organisations , there are millions of elderly and disabled people “at high risk” as they are unable to flee the war zone.

By this moment, over 3 million people have escaped from the Russian military assault to the EU, yet “older people and those with disabilities in Ukraine risk being left behind and urgently need protection and assistance,” said the DEC. According to the European Disability Forum, there are more than 7 million people age 60 or older, and 2.7 million people with disabilities in Ukraine. “Many cannot escape from affected areas nor seek shelter from bombings due to lack of mobility. They are also at risk of violence and neglect,” the DEC said, which represents the British Red Cross and 14 other groups.

Photo: Oleksandr Ratushniak /UNDP Ukraine. CC BY-ND 2.0

Elena is a 71-year-old retiree who lives in a village in Donbass which is several kilometres away from the nearest bomb shelter. She’s lives alone, can hardly walk due to pain in her legs and joints, and she does not have a car. That is what she said: “I constantly hear explosions, and I don’t know if they will reach me. Everyone needs peace and quiet: children, adults, and older people. I do not want to worry about the lives of my children and grandchildren, and about what will happen to me tomorrow.” Another resident of Donbass, 70-year-old Maria is a widow, who struggles to walk after she broke her hip in 2011, said: “I am feeling very lonely. Because of the conflict, my daughters, who live in Russia, can’t come to me. I live on the line of contact, where they shoot almost every day. The shelling is what worries me the most. What if they hit the house, and blast the windows, roof, doors out? Who will help me?”

Age International director Chris Roles said that a lot of the elderly and disabled people “may be housebound or unable to walk without support.” “Many older people will be completely alone, isolated and frightened. Some can’t make the long arduous journey out of the country because their health is bad,” Roles said.

Research conducted in eastern Donbass, where occasional fighting has been ongoing since 2014, showed that over 90% of the elderly have been in need for food and basic necessities following the Russian military invasion. Due to that reason many are unable to heat their houses in the frost. In the current time, “insufficient access to clean drinking water due to active shelling and airstrikes disrupting water supplies” had been reported by around 80% of the older people in Ukraine, the DEC said. More than a third of the elderly people urgently need medicine for chronic disease, and three quarters are in need for hygiene items.

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