Left behind. How war is affecting older people and people with disabilities in Ukraine

Published: Oct 1, 2022 Reading time: 2 minutes
Left behind. How war is affecting older people and people with disabilities in Ukraine
© Iva Zimova

Eastern areas of Ukraine have faced an alarming humanitarian situation since 2014. Even before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, many older people and persons with disabilities experienced challenges getting to safety and accessing humanitarian aid. These vulnerable people have limited physical and financial capacities to enable them to leave insecure areas for safer places.

According to OCHA report estimations, 13 percent of people needing humanitarian assistance in Ukraine have a disability. And now, with the escalation of the fighting, air attacks, and Russian troops in the country, older people and persons with disabilities are at high risk of losing their lives, having difficulty accessing safe evacuation, and lacking dignified shelter and access to humanitarian assistance.

When fighting occurs, most people rush to move to safe areas ensuring security for themselves, their families, and loved ones. But for many older people and those with disabilities, this is either impractical or highly complicated.

Unfortunately, evacuation plans proposed by authorities are often not designed in ways that accommodate these groups. Persons with disabilities often cannot reach train stations and shelters, which are frequently inaccessible for persons with limited mobility. Consequently, many older people and people with disabilities do not understand how to access transportation and assistance.

People in Need delivers assistance to older people and people with disabilities in different regions in Ukraine. In Pavlohrad, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, we support the local neuropsychological hospital, which moved from Barvinkove, Kharkiv Oblast, due to the security situation and the active fighting in the area. The hospital settled in a building provided by local authorities in Pavlohrad.

“Today, the building of the neuropsychological hospital in Barvinkove sustained damage and is partially destroyed. We moved just before it was shelled. We evacuated 87 people with disabilities who were staying in the hospital and 50 of our staff members who are now taking care of the patients here in Pavlohrad,” says Mikhailo, Head of the hospital.

The hospital staff are doing their best to care for their patients in the new location. It was challenging to evacuate everyone and settle in the new site. The hospital staff are trying to create conditions similar to those they had in Barvinkove, but in the current circumstances, it is barely manageable.

I like it here; it is nice. But I want to go back to our lovely Barvinkove. We were hiding in the basement there; it was terrifying. But I hope the war ends and I’ll be able to come back,” shares Viktoria, a hospital patient.

Alyona Budagovska, PIN Ukraine Advocacy and Communications manager

Author: PIN

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