Millions of elderly and disabled Ukrainians are “at high risk” because they are unable to flee the fighting, the United Kingdom Disasters Emergency Committee alliance of leading aid charities warned Thursday.
More than 2 million people have fled Russia’s military assault and “older people and those with disabilities in Ukraine risk being left behind and urgently need protection and assistance,” the DEC said.
There are more than 7 million people age 60 or older in Ukraine and 2.7 million people with disabilities, according to the European Disability Forum.
“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,” said the DEC, which represents the British Red Cross and 14 other groups.
Age International director Chris Roles said that many of the elderly and disabled “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.
A survey of the eastern Donbas region, where fighting has been going on in places since 2014, indicated that more than 90% of the elderly there need help to get food and cannot heat their homes in freezing conditions.
Around 80% of older people report “insufficient access to clean drinking water due to active shelling and airstrikes disrupting water supplies,” the DEC said.
More than a third of the older people are in urgent need of medication for chronic diseases, and three-quarters need hygiene items such as toothpaste, soap and toilet paper.
The DEC’s humanitarian appeal for Ukraine has collected more than $159 million since it was launched last week, including an unspecified generous donation from Queen Elizabeth II.