Ukraine + 1 more

Moldova: Rapid Needs Assessment of Older Refugees – 10 March 2022

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Context

An estimated 230,000 refugees have crossed the border from Ukraine to Moldova, with 120,000 of these planning to remain in the country.

As much of the border with Ukraine is part of Transnistria (an area of Moldova with links to Russia) most refugees are entering through the southern tip of Moldova close to the Ukrainian port city of Odessa. Despite the amazing support provided by Moldovan volunteers and the government, people and resources are being stretched to their limit.

Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe with a population of only 2.6 million, making it the country with the most refugees per-capita. Ensuring adequate assistance is provided to all Ukrainian refugees arriving in the country is vital, including those at greater risk such as older people and those with disabilities. However, given the levels of poverty in Moldova, consideration should also be given to their needs when considering any interventions in the country.

Methodology

To provide a snapshot of the current needs, 105 older people (aged 50+) were interviewed by HelpAge International using a short multi-sectoral needs assessment between 4 and 6 March. 60% of these interviews were conducted at the border (Palanca, Costești, Tudora) and 40% at refugee centres in Chisinau. A convenience sampling approach was used in identifying older people. The small sample and approach used limits the representativeness and disaggregation of this data. Therefore, unless further assessments, encompassing age disaggregated data, are conducted by other actors, this will be the first of several on-going larger assessments that HelpAge will conduct. Also, older refugees may also not yet have a clear picture of their longer terms needs. As the crisis evolves their responses may change, as will their needs.

Movement

• Most older refugees interviewed have arrived in Moldova from neighbouring areas in Ukraine, with the highest number arriving from Odessa. However, some have travelled further from cities such as Kyiv and Dnipro in what are likely to have been very difficult and traumatizing journeys, complicated by mobility issues that many older people face.

• 56% of older refugees reported that they are not planning to stay in Moldova for more than three months and aim to move onto another country. Supporting them in their on-going journey is therefore likely to be needed, especially for older people travelling alone (including accessing buses and even support with VISA processes). Only 17% plan to stay longer with family and friends within the country.

• 27% of older people reported that they did not know if they are going to stay in Moldova. This highlights the chaos and uncertainty many refugees face. Currently around 98 temporary shelters / refugee centres have been established where many of the most at-risk older refugees have gone. However, many other refugees are currently staying in hotels or rented accommodation where prices may be increasing as supply reduces. Others are being tempoarly housed by Moldovans for free. Therefore, accommodation options need to be found both temporarily and, in some cases, longer-term.

• 62% of older people reported that they are travelling with children. As most men under 60 have remained in Ukraine, and in many cases have been conscripted into the army, older people will likely play an increasingly crucial role in providing care to children. For those staying in Moldova this can include support in enrolling children in their care at local schools.

• 10% of those interviewed are travelling alone. This group faces particular risks, and their support needs may be higher. Where possible, helping them reunite with family and friends will be important, as well as ensuring they can access mobile phones and sim cards.