War in Ukraine takes heavy toll on those with disabilities, and many can’t leave

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, but Olena Yavorova does not have that option.

Ms Yavorova has a rare genetic disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and needs carers and a wheelchair for mobility.

For Ms Yavorova and millions of Ukrainians with disabilities, the choice to evacuate doesn’t always exist.

Inaccessible buildings and escape routes, massive distances to travel, language barriers and a lack of support have all made it difficult for people with disabilities to manage through the conflict.

“I have no volunteers, helpers, or friends near my place who can assist me with all the moving and living in a new place,” Ms Yavorova said.

“For the people who have SMA, it’s really difficult. So, we stay.”

A close up head shot of Olena wearing bright pink lipstick and earings
Olena Yavorova says it is distressing to be living through a war with a disability. (Supplied)

Ms Yavorova is an artist and a survivor of the Russo-Ukrainian War, which caused her family to move from her birth city of Donetsk in 2015.

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