In response to the warning for all civilians in eastern Ukraine to evacuate the area, HelpAge International’s CEO Justin Derbyshire outlined a more complicated picture:
“In eastern Ukraine, so many older people, including those with disabilities, have already endured eight years of war. Many will stay in their homes – either because of mobility difficulties or because they do not wish to leave the home and land they are connected to.
“For those who want to go, assistance must be urgently provided so older men and women and those with disabilities can reach bus and train stations and get the information and support they need on their journeys.
“Support at their destinations is also vital so they can access suitable accommodation and have their medical and healthcare needs met, while navigating new surroundings. We will also work with local authorities and our partners to support new care homes in safer areas.
“Whether people evacuate or not, the Russian military must avoid harming civilians and civilian infrastructure until a ceasefire is agreed so people can leave safely and those who remain can get the support they need.
“Our incredible team of community volunteers and partners – many of whom are older themselves – must be able to continue to deliver food and hygiene items, as well as contact older people to provide emotional support.”