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UN Security Council recognises the rights of people with disabilities in armed conflicts

Press release | London, 20th June 2019, 13:00 GMT

A man displaced from Mosul who lost his leg during an artillery strike. He is beneficiary of psychosocial support services from HI and he received a tent.

© Martin Črep/HI

For the first time ever, the United Nations Security Council has adopted a Resolution on persons with disabilities in armed conflict. This represents a significant step forward for people with disabilities, who are particularly at risk in crisis situations and often overlooked in humanitarian assistance.

The UN resolution adopted affirms that the impact of conflict on persons with disabilities is particularly high. All parties to conflict have the responsibility to protect all civilians, including persons with disabilities, from the effects of war. Humanitarian aid actors must include the views and needs of people with disabilities in their definition of assistance.

"This resolution is a great step forward for people with disabilities who are particularly at risk during conflict and can be inadvertently excluded by humanitarian organisations. All civilians, including persons with disabilities, must be protected during hostilities. We must reduce the difficulties they face when fleeing fighting, when seeking protection and when accessing humanitarian services", says Elena Bertozzi, Humanity & Inclusion (HI) Advocacy Officer.

In addition to the needs of people with pre-existing disabilities, violence during conflict will cause injuries and further impairments. A study by Humanity & Inclusion (HI) and iMMAP [1] shows that more than 60% of the Syrian refugee households include a person with disability, and 1/5 of refugees in Lebanon and Jordan have a disability.

In Jordan, 80% of Syrians injured by explosive weapons expressed signs of high psychological distress, 66% of them were unable to carry out essential daily activities because of their feelings of fear, anger, fatigue, disinterest and hopelessness, 65% were so upset that they tried to avoid places, people, conversations or activities that reminded them of the traumatic event.[2]

In May 2016, HI and several partner organisations launched a Charter for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. It has been endorsed by more than 220 States, NGOs and organisations of persons with disabilities, international institutions, UN agencies, member states and donors. HI calls for continued mobilisation to make inclusion a reality for all people with disabilities living in a crisis situation.

"States and humanitarian organisations must listen to people with disabilities and take their needs into account, for example on issues of accessibility when launching post-conflict reconstruction plans..." adds Elena.

Last December, the UN Security Council (UNSC) in New York met to discuss the situation of persons with disabilities in armed conflict. It was the first time the Security Council touched upon the issue. HI Advocacy Director Anne Hery took the floor during the meeting. She stressed the need for all humanitarian actors to take deliberate action for an inclusive humanitarian response, and called on the Security Council to give more systematic attention to the situation of persons with disabilities in armed conflict.


Notes

[1] The survey ran from 2017-2018, and so far has resulted in two reports, four factsheets and a Data Dashboard that provide statistical figures on people with disabilities among Syrian refugees and their access to humanitarian aid.

[2] Syria, A Mutilated Future, HI, 2016

Interviews available upon request with HI spokespersons.

Press contact

Marlene Manning, Humanity & Inclusion UK
Email: media.uk@hi.org
Tel: +44 (0)870 774 3737

About Humanity & Inclusion

Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Humanity & Inclusion (the new name of Handicap International) is a charity working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work tirelessly alongside disabled and vulnerable people to help meet their basic needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.

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