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100 Days on: Millions of older people neglected in Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis

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HelpAge Canada warns that more must be done to prioritize the particular challenges and needs of millions of older people caught in Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis. People over the age of 60 are being overlooked in the humanitarian response, despite making up a quarter of the country’s population. A new survey from HelpAge International offers an insight into what this population has been enduring for nearly 100 days since the start of full-scale warfare in Ukraine. The survey reveals that:
  • 69% of older Ukrainians have not been contacted by a humanitarian agency since the escalation of the war
  • Almost nine out of ten older people (89%) have a limiting health condition such as hypertension (57%), heart problems (50%), joint aches and pains (41%) and gastro-intestinal issues (20%) and 71% have more than one chronic
  • Only 43% have full access to medication, with 12% reporting they have no access at all. 8% do not have access to safe drinking water.
  • 43% have at least one disability, 34% have mobility issues, 14% have poor sight, 8% face challenges with remembering and 6% with communicating.
Respondents said their most urgent needs are:
  • Money to easily access what they need most for their immediate well-being (74% of respondents)
  • Medicine and healthcare (70% of respondents)
  • Hygiene items (61% of respondents)
Gregor Sneddon, HelpAge Canada’s Executive Director, said: “Urgent action to address the very real and desperate needs of older people in Ukraine is essential.” “This failure to adequately respond to their specific needs during moments of crisis is all too common unfortunately. We saw how a global pandemic disproportionately impacted the lives of older people and limited their ability to lead secure, healthy, and dignified lives. We cannot continue to marginalize the needs of older people.” Orla Murphy, Ukraine Humanitarian Response Manager for HelpAge International who was recently in the war zone said: “The level of trauma and need that so many older people have is beyond belief, particularly among those who have already endured eight years of fighting in the east of the country. “As we approach 100 days of full-scale war, it’s time the global community acknowledges the horrors and the challenges of the older generation and stops putting them at the back of the queue.” It is widely recognized that older people have specific needs that must be addressed as part of an inclusive and effective humanitarian response. But they are rarely prioritized. Since 2020 HelpAge Canada has been providing hygiene and food kits to more than 1000 older people living along the line of contact in Eastern Ukraine in direct response to the dire need of that population. “As an organization, we have been voicing the urgency of the response needed and the extreme hardship the older people of Ukraine are facing. Because we believe that improving the quality of life of vulnerable older persons is important both in Canada and abroad, we have rallied our network of partners to give generously to the work of HelpAge on the ground in the region.” said Gregor Sneddon. To date HelpAge Canada has mobilized close to $5 million in humanitarian relief for older Ukrainians and their families with major donations coming from the federal government, Canadian-Ukraine Foundation, Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, Islamic Relief Canada, and the Humanitarian Coalition. The organization is currently concentrating its relief efforts on the older population affected by the conflict in neighbouring countries, in addition to within Ukraine. HelpAge Canada supplies food, hygiene kits, and bedding in 44 refugee centres in Moldova. In Poland, the organization provides cash assistance to older displaced people who cannot access their pension or medical benefits. In Ukraine, along with medicine and other essential items, it is providing crucial psychosocial support to those who have witnessed or have suffered traumatic experiences. 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. “We know that when Canadians and the government prioritize the needs of older people, a more inclusive humanitarian response can happen,” said Gregor Snedddon.  
  For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Gregor Sneddon directly at  613-889-3737 (cell) or by email: GSneddon@helpagecanada.ca
  • Date

    Dec 05, 2022

  • By

    Amaan Fazal


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