Older people and some families with children refuse to leave the evacuation areas in Kharkiv region
Residents refuse to leave the areas designated for evacuation by the Ukrainian government from the Kupiansk area of the Kharkiv region despite the fierce fighting looms. Older people most often refuse to go.
The head of the Kupyansk city military administration, Andriy Besedin, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
On August 8, the day before the officials signed the order for mandatory evacuation for civilians, Besedin said that more than two hundred places had been prepared for residents in Zhytomyr, Central Ukraine.
The head of the Kupyansk city military administration emphasized that the evacuation is not mandatory, so those who do not want to leave can refuse by writing a statement.
“Unfortunately, as we expected, locals mostly refuse to evacuate. But we have regular bus routes connecting Kupiansk with the regional center anyway. The train runs regularly, too. People can call us on the hotline. We respond immediately, form lists, and volunteers take them to Kharkiv,” Besedin says.
The official says that older adults most often refuse to leave. Earlier, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized Ukrainian officials for not evacuating older people from dangerous regions. According to experts, the authorities’ disregard for the special needs of this category of the population has left many of them in danger, and therefore, people over 60 years old account for 32% of civilian deaths in cases where their age was recorded.
Human rights activists also collected stories of elderly people who stayed in their homes even during the fighting. They note that “older people in Ukraine have been disproportionately impacted by death and injury during Russia’s invasion and are unable to access housing on an equal basis with others after being displaced.”
According to Besedin, some families with children are also refusing to evacuate.
“There are more than 600 children in the Kupiansk community now. It is very important for us that they are in safer places. Because of the escalation, the number of shelling that is now taking place in the community is growing. We need to protect children with limited mobility and move them to safer regions,” he stresses.