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People with disabilities left behind by emergency response

As the world marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December, Handicap International reports that 75% of people with disabilities believe they are excluded from humanitarian response. Closely involved in international forums such as the World Humanitarian Summit and the current Conference on Climate Change (COP21), Handicap International is calling on the international community to ensure people with disabilities are taken into account when preparing and implementing humanitarian response to crises.

Humanitarian crises: people with disabilities invisible

People with disabilities are often excluded from humanitarian programmes and actions during crises such as conflicts or natural disasters, according to Handicap International’s report, Disability in Humanitarian Contexts[1]¸ published last October. Three quarters of people with disabilities who responded to the survey report that they did not have adequate access to basic assistance such as water, shelter, food or health.

 

“People with disabilities face many problems accessing humanitarian aid,” explains Camille Gosselin, Handicap International’s humanitarian advocacy manager. “There are lots of reasons for this, including a lack of information on available services, difficulty in accessing them because they live too far away, and infrastructures not adapted to disabilities. Sometimes all it takes is common sense to make a difference. The international community must take action at COP and the next Global Humanitarian Summit to end this discrimination.”

 

Handicap International’s actions to promote inclusive humanitarian response

Handicap International’s programmes take vulnerable people into account[2]. Disability and vulnerability focal points (DVFP) are a good example: temporary, flexible structures (a tent, shelter or prefab), DVFPs are set up in affected communities, often accompanied by mobile teams, to ensure vulnerable people can access aid.

The organisation also provides assistance to the programmes of numerous humanitarian organisations to ensure they are accessible to all. In addition, it runs training and awareness programmes to help humanitarian staff identify and include the most vulnerable people.

At the next Global Humanitarian Summit, which will be held in Istanbul in May 2016, the organisation will stress the need for tougher standards to ensure humanitarian response is truly inclusive.

 

[1] http://www.handicap-international.org/fileadmin/2015Disabilityinhumanitariancontext.pdf. The Disability in Humanitarian Contexts report is based on the results of an online consultation carried out between April and June 2015 targeting people with disabilities, disabled people's organisations (DPOs) and humanitarian organisations. A total of 769 responses were collected worldwide. The report was carried out as a contribution to the World Humanitarian Summit that aims at reforming the global humanitarian system. The final meeting will be held in Istanbul, Turkey, in May 2016.

[2] Depending on the situation in the country where we work, “vulnerable people” include injured, disabled and older people, and people suffering chronic disease.

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