Ukrainian Conflict | Humanitarian conditions for older people in conflict affected Ukraine

November 7, 2022
Analysis Brief


Ukraine has the largest percentage of older people affected by conflict in a single country in the world with approximately one quarter of the population in Ukraine being over 60 years old at the beginning of 2022. Eastern Ukraine has a particularly high proportion of older people as many of the working age population left during the previous eight years of conflict.

Following the escalation of the conflict in late February, millions of Ukrainians fled their homes, with the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) reaching close to three million by early May. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reported that 57% of displaced households had an older person as a member. However, many older people were also unable or unwilling to leave their homes.

An assessment of older people in Donetsk and Luhansk during early March found that 99% of them did not want to be evacuated from their homes. International press such as the Guardian highlighted the conditions faced by many older persons who stayed behind. Several factors reduce the ability or willingness of older people to flee their homes in conflict-affected areas, including physical capacity/mobility issues, the risk of illnesses during long journeys, the reduced access to medication during journeys, the lack of finances to travel and the strong sense of belonging to their home and community.

The more recent mandatory evacuations led by the government has enabled many older people to escape from cities heavily impacted by the armed conflict. Older IDPs now represent almost 20% of the displaced population.
However, the largest IDP populations now reside in Eastern Ukraine, areas closer to, and more impacted by the armed conflict than the western areas of Ukraine where the majority of IDPs fled during the early months of the current crisis (IOM 06/10/2022, OCHA 07/09/2022, Health Cluster 01/08/2022, Dorcas Aid International 28/06/2022, HelpAge 06/06/2022, HelpAge 31/05/2022, IOM 09/05/2022, HelpAge 13/04/2022, MSF 11/03/2022, HelpAge 04/03/2022).

The analysis contained in this report does not cover current response efforts as these are not tracked by DFS (avoiding duplication with OCHA situation reports). Local Government, emergency services and local volunteer collectives sustain much of the response efforts in conflict affected areas, and certainly support to at risk households is taking place, but it appears less humanitarian aid is getting to the villages or to the raions 1 outside the big cities (ACAPS 07/10/2022).

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