The European Union must bring long-term support to older persons in Ukraine and those settling in the EU

Brussels, Belgium – 09 November 2022

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Eight months after the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, AGE Platform Europe (AGE) and three of its members in Poland and Romania publish a new briefing on the impact of the war on older people. Based on feedback from the ground, we call on the EU to take into account, in its emergency response and in the future recovery plan, the needs of older people in this rapidly ageing country.

Ukraine is among the fastest ageing countries in the world with 7 million people aged 65+, representing 16.7% of the total population today and estimated to reach 20% in 2030. Yet older people are often invisible, even more in the context of the war.
At the beginning of the war, the vast majority of older people remained in Ukraine, including in areas that are being attacked by the Russian army. They face isolation and abandonment as their families and loved ones made the unbereable choice to leave the country to save their children.

‘‘Luka’s grandfather and grandmother stayed in Nikolaev. They are retired. The pension of each of them is somewhere between 330-390 lei, and food prices now in Ukraine, and especially in war zones, are the same as in Romania (it used to be significantly lower). Since April, there is no drinking water supply in Nikolaev, only what is brought. The city is bombarded by missiles every day, and now attacked by kamikaze drones. This is how our grandfather and grandmother live in Nikolaev” , said a refugee in Romania.

Older refugees have an average of 2,5 illinesses each. They face difficulties in accessing their pensions and heathcare services. For those leaving with a disability, they are not systematically recognised, which puts their health and life at greater risk. For more, read our briefing

“We may feel overwhelmed when witnessing the horrors of the war in Ukraine. And yet, as civil society together with policy makers and partners, we have the obligation and power to support those who need our help” , said Maciej Kucharczyk, Secretary General of AGE, adding “…older people in Ukraine and those fleeing the country face enormous difficulties when escaping war zones; lack of money to survive; lack of access to health and care; struggle to get integrated in their new environments; abandonment and loneliness. We must support them financially, logistically, mentally, right now and in the long term.”

On 18 November 2022, AGE will organise its Annual Conference ‘A Europe that cares is a Europe that empowers’ where in the last part we will aim to portray the global dimension of the rights of older persons including in the context of the war in Ukraine. The existing human rights standards protect older people partially and poorly. It is only the article 11 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilitie which provides the necessary frame for support. A range of high-level speakers,including a panellist from Ukraine, will discuss these shortfalls and will give us insights on how to organise the humanitarian aid to older people in Ukraine and how to support them in the longer perspective.
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