REPORT – Disability in humanitarian context

Posted by: on Jul 30, 2015 | No Comments

Persons with disability often fall through the cracks of humanitarian response. This the alarming conclusion of the study “Disability in humanitarian context: views from affected people and field organisations”, launched in July by Handicap International. Based on a broad consultation, the study was carried out as a contribution for the upcoming global consultation (14-16 october), an important step in the World Humanitarian Summit’s process.

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Picture showing the report’s cover page. Download the report in English.

Handicap International carried out the consultation from April to June 2015 around a set of three questionnaires targeted at persons with disabilities, Disabled People’s Organisations and humanitarian actors. Surveys were translated into 4 languages and widely disseminated by Handicap International’s teams, with the support of the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the International Development and Disability Consortium (IDDC).

As a result, more than 700 responses were collected and the main findings provide strong incentive for humanitarian actors to address inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in humanitarian response. In particular it shows that:

  • The consequences of a crisis are massive : 54% of respondents with disabilities state they have experienced a direct physical impact, 27% of them report that they have been psychologically, physically or sexually abused and 38% have experienced psychological stress or trauma.
  • A majority of the respondents report that they did not have adequate access to basic assistance such as water, shelter, food or health and highlight the necessity to have better access to specific services they may need.
  • 85% of humanitarian actors responding to the survey recognise that persons with disabilities are more vulnerable in times of crisis and 92% estimate that persons with disabilities are not properly taken into account in humanitarian response.
  • 56% of humanitarian actors consider that improved coordination between mainstream actors, specialised actors, and DPOs should be a priority.

The report identifies a number of practical recommendations targeted at humanitarian actors as a whole, including international and local NGOs, UN agencies, governments, as well as donors supporting emergency response. It calls on humanitarian actors’ to urgently put in place specific mechanisms and policies to effectively reach to, and take into account, persons with disabilities in their humanitarian programs and strategy.

The global outcome of the World Humanitarian Summit (May 2016 in Istanbul) must lead to a real change in disability-related policies and practices in the humanitarian community as a whole, including with improved consultation and participation of persons with disabilities and strengthened role for Disabled People’s Organisations:

  • The disability perspective should be part of the discussions at the upcoming global consultation in Geneva and the 2016 Istanbul final Summit. Participation from persons with disabilities to these both events should be promoted.
  • The final report from the UN Secretary General should specifically address inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in humanitarian response, as a human right imperative and a core component of a principled, effective humanitarian aid.
  • The final outcome of the Summit should provide concrete recommendations for humanitarian actors to effectively change their policies and practices.

Download the report in English.

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