Thursday, December 14, 2017

War hurts the vulnerable

 Ukrainian pensioner Mariya Semiriad has little to eat and no money to buy enough food, wood and painkillers for the winter.

"We can't afford anything anymore because of this war," Semiriad told the Thomson Reuters Foundation 

"Ukraine has the dubious distinction of being the (world's) oldest humanitarian crisis," said Neal Walker, the U.N.'s top representative in Ukraine. In 2017 the U.N. received less than 30 percent of about $200 million it asked to tackle the crisis. Last week, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said it would stop providing food aid due to dwindling resources. "Governments tend to view this as a political crisis ... but it is also a humanitarian crisis," said Walker.

 The conflict is dragging on and the millions have exhausted their resources and are struggling to make ends meet. Older people are bearing the brunt of violence that has killed more than 10,000 people, including 2,500 civilians, and forced 1.6 million to flee their homes since 2014. The number of people going hungry in eastern Ukraine has doubled to 1.2 million in 2017, according to the U.N. Nearly a third of the 3.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance are over 60 years of age.  Ukraine has an ageing population, with 16 percent of people over 65 in 2017 - a much higher rate than in other war-torn nations, like Syria or Yemen, where the figure stands below 5 percent. Most survive on meagre pensions, which have been eroded by fast-rising prices of food and utilities.

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