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'I will stay': The elderly who refuse to leave their homes in Ukraine to deliver aid to those who need help

While the UN says over 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine so far, some of the country’s elderly citizens are refusing to leave in order to provide food and aid to help others survive.

Despite constant shelling and the advance of Russian troops, volunteers of the Ukrainian charity, Age Concern Ukraine, continues to operate through its nine branches across the country.

Putin’s ‘immoral’ condition on humanitarian corridors – live updates

The director of the charity, 65-year-old Galina Poliakova, is among those who are staying behind in Kyiv.


“I will go nowhere, I will stay because there is a lot of work to do. The situation is bad. It’s really difficult to get to people because of the shelling”, she says.

The charity has nine branches across Ukraine and continues to operate as Russia’s invasion continues. Pic: Age Concern Ukraine

The charity says it has over 1,500 volunteers all aged 60 and over who deliver food, medical supplies and run a daily phone service for elderly people in Ukraine.

As of last year, over 10 million people in the country were aged 60 years and older, roughly a quarter of the country’s population, according to Statista.

Ms Poliakova says that although some of the elderly have fled with family or take shelter in basements, many others are isolated, unable to leave because of their physical condition or have chosen to stay.

“Older people are so bound to their homes. Many women and children have left the country and the elderly stay at home, isolated and hungry. We don’t know who is alone and needs support,” she says.

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Bridges, roads, and goods depots have been destroyed during the war making it harder to distribute aid

While the charity has been able to reach some people to provide aid, Ms Poliakova says access has become a problem due to damaged infrastructure from shelling.

“We were offered aid delivered to other areas, but how will we get that? How can we deliver this to people when the roads are full of Russians and broken bridges? No trains will come,” she says.

The charity says it is particularly concerned about the elderly in cities including, Kharkiv and Mariupol which have faced intense fighting.

Although Russia announced humanitarian corridors for Ukrainians fleeing several cities including the capital, it now says people will be allowed to flee as long as they go to Belarus or Russia.

Read more:
Ex-Ukraine president: ‘We don’t need your pilots or soldiers – we need aircraft to protect you’ in the West

While Age Concern Ukraine are receiving donations, Ms Poliakova says the “best thing the West can do for Ukraine is to protect our skies”, with a no-fly zone, which has been contested among Western leaders.


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