The average life expectancy for men in Ukraine is only 66 years, and those who make it to old age often live in poverty. Despite recent investment in community safety nets, a long history of lacking social benefits continues to haunt the country.
Pensions are so low that many resort to hard labour on the street. And while the agricultural sector now accounts for over 30 percent of Ukraine’s exports, vast plains of fertile land have gone untapped - another unwelcome memento from the country’s Soviet past.
Ukraine gained independence in 1991, yet politics have remained unstable for decades. Escalating violence between Russian-backed rebels and the military has led to a protracted crisis in eastern Ukraine.
Of a conflict that affects 5.2 million people, an estimated 3.5 million people require urgent humanitarian assistance and protection. Civilians, many forced to flee, are caught in the crossfire. Those left behind are mostly elderly residents - with little means to leave but dwindling support to stay.