FEEDBACK – Inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action at the HNPW

Posted by: on Feb 17, 2018 | No Comments

On the first week of February, HI together with its partners brought the thematic of inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action at the Humanitarian Network and Partnership Week (HNPW) in Geneva.

HNPW 2018

HNPW 2018

One Thematic Station during the Inter-Network Day and two sessions on February 8 contributed to raise awareness and to exchange on how to contribute to greater inclusion of persons with disabilities in various aspects of humanitarian action. Persons with disabilities are indeed disproportionately affected during humanitarian crisis and emergency situations. Seldom are they meaningfully consulted nor actively involved in the decision-making processes which affect their lives.“Humanitarian inclusion standards for older people and people with disabilities” have also been launched, designed to help address the gap in understanding the needs, capacities and rights of older people and people with disabilities, and to promote their inclusion in humanitarian action.

The Thematic Station

The Thematic Station on “How can networks/organizations of persons with disabilities contribute to humanitarian action?” was on opportunity to challenge participants from other networks to reflect on how to include persons with disabilities in their work.

Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action

The session about the impact and expectations of the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action attracted much interest and allowed to gather support and identify next steps. The roundtable discussion was chaired by Dr Lachlan Strahan, Chargé d’affaires at the Australian Permanent Mission to the UN. He pointed to Australian political commitment to the Charter and efforts to ensure disability inclusion is firmly embedded in humanitarian programmes funded by Australia.  Vladimir Cuk, Executive Director of the International Disability Alliance (IDA), focused on the importance of working in partnership and ensuring participation of persons with disabilities in order to promote universally accessible responses and recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Session about inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action at HNPW

Session about inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action at HNPW

On behalf of the European Commission(DG ECHO), Leonor Nieto shared ECHO’s commitments to work with organizations representing persons with disabilities and other stakeholders to develop standards for EU funded projects to take into account the specificities of people with disabilities; increase capacity building;

and enhance data collection. Reuben McCarthy, Manager of the Humanitarian Capacity Development Programme at UNICEF, explained how UNICEF is working to systematically mainstream issues for children with disability in humanitarian responses, by adapting the tools used for assessment and planning and to raise awareness towards a change in attitude.

Key takeaways from the discussion touched upon the need of consistent and strong political will in order to ensure inclusion of persons with disabilities permeates at field level, as well as ensuring participation of organizations of persons with disabilities.

Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action

The second session focused on the work towards globally-endorsed UN system-wide Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, that are being developed by a dedicated Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Task Team gathering more than 60 organizations. The Guidelines, to be finalized by end 2018, will assist humanitarian actors, governments and affected communities to coordinate, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate essential actions that foster the full and effective participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities. The meeting chair, Mr. Vladimir Cuk, IDA Executive Chair, emphasized that the success of the guidelines will depend on the commitment of all involved.

“The inclusion of persons with disabilities is a core component of principled and effective humanitarian action, and that more concerted action is required when it comes to institutionalizing inclusion of all at-risk groups through organizational policy and practice; gathering better data that includes people with disabilities; and empowering vulnerable crisis-affected people and including them in decision-making processes at every level.”