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Ukrainian elderly trapped on COVID-19 lockdown on both sides of front-line in Donbas: video

Ukrainian elderly trapped on COVID-19 lockdown on both sides of front-line in Donbas: video
Edited by: Yuri Zoria
The novel coronavirus pandemic disrupted the daily routines and lifestyles of many people in Ukraine. The degree of discomfort varies for Ukrainians who are now deprived of the possibility to stroll outside, meet friends, attend a gym, or just go to the cinema. However, senior citizens whose life has never been easy in Ukraine are now even more vulnerable than ever since they are in the risk group for COVID-19.

Novosti Donbasa, a Russian-language regional internet newspaper based in Donetsk Oblast, has published a video reportage about the life of the elderly under the COVID-19 lockdown in four cities of the war-torn region, including the Russian-occupied regional capital Donetsk.

Chasiv Yar hospice

In the town of Chasiv Yar, a family volunteered to create a hospice that sheltered some 150 senior citizens from across the entire oblast, including its occupied parts within three years. Now there are 32 lonely elderly dwellers, most of whom are IDPs from uncontrolled territories. The hospice doesn’t have the official status of a nursing home, so the senior citizens hosted here are formally guests of the volunteers. As the Ukrainian government imposed the quarantine in the country, the volunteers of the Chasiv Yar hospice started to monitor the observance of the lockdown rules, restricting visits and carrying out disinfection.

No-pharmacy Zaitseve

The front-line settlement of Zaitseve situated only five kilometers away from the Russian-occupied Horlivka lost its public transit to the nearby cities as Ukraine shut down all domestic intercity public transportation to slow down the spread of COVID-19 within the country.

Nearly everyday explosions and fighting have been heard in the front-line settlement for six years now. And with the quarantine, almost 1,000 residents of Zaitseve found themselves in isolation.

There is no pharmacy in the settlement and the closest location to buy medicines is 25 kilometers away. And this is the greatest lockdown issue for those local elderly who don’t have cars. They have to ask the local shop workers or any other people who can travel by car to fetch the medication for them.

Illegal cash-out of Ukrainian pensions in occupied Donetsk

The over-65 population self-isolates in the occupied territory as well. Since all checkpoints have shut down from both sides of the front due to the lockdown, Donetsk pensioners lost their possibility to visit free Ukraine where many of them obtain their Ukrainian pensions and buy quality food and medications not available in the occupied cities that offer mostly Russian-made products.

However, the pensioners who have valid cards of Ukrainian banks still have possibilities to withdraw their money in occupation. Local middlemen offer their illegal cashing services, transferring money from the cards to their own accounts and profiting off cashing out the pensioners’ money in Russian rubles at a lower rate and removing a 5% commission.

Mariupol elderly urged to stay at home, get aid

The people over 75 years old get food packages in Mariupol, the second biggest city of Donetsk Oblast lying on the Azov Sea coast. Workers of the social protection department deliver the aid trying to reach all 31,000 of 75-plus citizens living in the city and ask the elderly to stay home and avoid crowded places. The municipal authorities are planning to distribute the second batch of this aid in May.

The majority of residents of the isolated frontline towns are pensioners. All of them need aid on both sides of the frontline. According to the UN data, about 1/3 of all people who need humanitarian aid in the Donbas are the elderly.

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Edited by: Yuri Zoria
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