By Emma Farge
GENEVA, May 24 (Reuters) – Older people have suffered and died at a disproportionately high rate since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a U.N. report showed on Wednesday, with some perishing because they were barred from fetching medicines or leaving basements.
The report compiled by U.N. human rights monitors showed that about a third of the civilians killed in the first year of the war, or 1,346 of 4,187 documented victims, were over 60.
The toll only includes individuals whose age is known and the real number of victims is much higher, the U.N. says. About a quarter of Ukraine’s population is elderly.
Russia denies targeting civilians in Ukraine.
In one incident in Yahidne in March 2022, 10 elderly people died after being blocked for weeks in a school cellar after Russian troops had converted the building into a base, the report said. Others with reduced mobility were unable to get to safety, such as a woman in her mid-60s with an amputated leg who burned to death when her building caught fire after shelling.
Russian checkpoints in Kherson last year also obstructed movements, meaning several older people with diabetes died for want of medication, the report said.
The U.N. found that older people were hit exceptionally hard by power outages due to Russian attacks on critical infrastructure since October 2022 that trapped many in their upstairs apartments when their elevators broke down.
Others had to be evacuated in haste, sometimes in wheelbarrows because there was no time to fetch their mobility devices such as crutches or Zimmer frames, it said. Many were left behind.
Those on both sides of the front line have struggled to access their pensions due to the breakdown of postal and banking services, the report said.