Older people are disproportionately affected by the crisis
Since the Russian military offensive against Ukraine was launched on the 24th of February, over 8 million people have been displaced. A significant number of those who have fled their homes are older people (60+). While we do not yet know the full scale, according to International Organisation of Migration (IOM), 55% of displaced households contain at least one older person.
Ukraine has the largest percentage of older people affected by conflict in a single country in the world. One quarter of the country’s population are over 60 years old, while in eastern Ukraine one in three of those needing assistance since the Russian invasion in 2014, have been over 60. This makes it the world’s oldest humanitarian crisis.
Many older people in Ukraine face a range of heightened and specific challenges including being more likely to have health conditions and/or disabilities effecting their mobility, as compared to those who are younger. These challenges can be compounded during displacement as there is a greater likelihood of reduced access to their medication and/or the loss of essential items such as glasses and walking frames. However, older people also play an integral role in providing care to others, especially children. In Ukraine this is particularly the case as 64% of families have been separated, exacerbated by many men being conscripted into the army. Older people are often overlooked by the humanitarian sector and there is a risk that this also happens in Ukraine.
HelpAge Canada is proud to partner with Global Affairs Canada, The Canada Ukraine Foundation, Islamic Relief Canada and the Humanitarian Coalition, PWRDF and generous Canadians from coast to coast enabling us to deliver humanitarian relief to thousands of older Ukrainians and their families through our partner HelpAge International.
Since 2014, HelpAge International has been supporting almost 5,000 older people in Eastern Ukraine with food, hygiene items and assistive products, as well as providing home-based care and psychosocial support services via community volunteers, many of whom are older people themselves. Despite the intensification of fighting, HelpAge volunteers have continued to make psychosocial “check in” calls to older people in Eastern Ukraine where possible. HelpAge has also provided hygiene kits to two local municipal authorities and two local organisations to distribute. HelpAge is scaling up its work and moving to more targeted programming, with a specific focus on older people with and without disabilities. This will include the provision of accessible multipurpose cash assistance, hygiene kits, community-based protection services, support to care homes, and home-based care.
A Rapid Needs Assessment conducted by HelpAge in the oblasts of Lvivska, Chernivetska and Dnipropetrovska, provides insights into the heightened and specific challenges faced by older people in the regions:
- 89% of the displaced older people had at least one health condition, with seven out of ten stating that they had more than one.
- 43% of older people had a least one disability. The most common disabilities identified related to mobility, sight, remembering, and communicating.
- 26% of older people do not have a family member or friend who can provide them with support.
Thank you to our Humanitarian Response supporters.
Stories of older people affected by the war in Ukraine
Since the full-scale escalation of the war in Ukraine this year it is estimated that more than 2.5 million older Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian relief.