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.
Elena Bertozzi, Humanity & Inclusion (HI) Advocacy Officer said:
“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.”
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 shows that more than 60% of the Syrian refugee households include a person with a 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.
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.”
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.