I examine under-reported human, economic and political issues to expose silent victims of conflict in a variety of war-torn countries. This series focuses on the vulnerable, fragile, elderly population in Ukraine that is frozen by conflict; trapped in a war, impoverished, and abandoned to survive in dilapidated homes.
Ukraine has the world’s highest proportion of elderly affected by war. A third of the country’s 3.4 million people that depend on humanitarian assistance are over 60 years old. In 2014, many young people left when violence broke out, while the elderly stayed behind barely surviving. Ukraine’s elderly are trapped in a war zone, listening to the occasional bursts of shelling near the line of contact separating the Ukrainian government forces and the Russia-backed rebel forces. For pensioners who have exhausted their resources, economic difficulties add to the stress of daily life.
Recent government measures led to hundreds of thousands of elderly Ukrainians losing their pensions, their only financial security. In pursuit of destroyed documents, and to collect their pension, they are forced to travel across the conflict-torn borders of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, which is a difficult journey, waiting in long lines.