ALERT – First-ever global guidance steers aid actors to include persons with disabilities in humanitarian action

Posted by: on Nov 12, 2019 | No Comments

Today actors from the humanitarian, development and disability sector come together to celebrate the launch of the first global Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action.

This is a historic event, and will have the participation of Under-Secretary-General and Senior Advisor of the Secretary-General on Policy, Ms. Ana Maria Menéndez and the Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr. Mark Lowcock, and organized by UNICEF, the International Disability Alliance (IDA), and Humanity & Inclusion (HI, also known as Handicap International). This high-level event invites participants to share their experiences on how they engage with persons with disabilities as partners in humanitarian response and respond to the risks faced by them. Further, the event offers opportunity to make pledges to contribute to the guideline’s dissemination and implementation.

The Guidelines assist humanitarian actors, governments, affected communities and organizations of persons with disabilities to coordinate, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate essential actions. The aim is for these actions to foster the effective, appropriate and efficient humanitarian action, resulting in the full and effective participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities and changing practice across all sectors and in all phases of humanitarian action.

The guidelines were developed through a three-year multi-stakeholder consultation, with and by persons with disabilities and their representative organizations. They are developed to promote emergency preparedness, response, and recovery operations in a variety of humanitarian settings, such as armed conflicts and natural disasters, that are inclusive of the world’s largest and frequently overlooked group, persons with disabilities.

WHY THIS GLOBAL GUIDANCE MATTERS?

 “We are one of the most marginalized populations in all phases of conflict, crisis and disaster. We were excluded from humanitarian actions, starting from design, to action, to monitoring. Today we celebrate as the Guidelines make it clear that the inclusion of persons with disabilities is the responsibility/obligation of everyone involved in humanitarian response.”

The Guidelines provide hands-on and practical steps for humanitarian actors on including persons with disabilities in humanitarian programming and coordination and define the various roles and responsibilities of humanitarian stakeholders in doing so. Furthermore, the guidelines aim to enhance skills of humanitarian actors to address the challenges and barriers faced by persons with disabilities by placing them at the center of humanitarian decision-making, both as actors in the shaping and delivery of aid, and as members of an affected population. The Guidelines, designed for use by national, regional and international humanitarian actors, set out essential actions to take in order to effectively identify and respond to the needs and rights of persons with disabilities who are most at risk of being left behind in humanitarian settings.

In today’s world, there is an urgency to immediately translate the Guidelines into action. The IDA remains committed to ensure to bring persons with disabilities to the forefront of humanitarian responses, through consultation and inclusion in all the phases of Guidelines roll out and implementation.

The guidelines come at a time of growing momentum toward the inclusion of persons with disabilities and the realization that more is needed in both humanitarian settings and within the UN system. Recent milestones include the launch of the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy (May 2019), and the unanimous adoption of the first ever UN Security Council Resolution on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities in Armed Conflict (June 2019). 

“Having persons with disabilities accessing humanitarian assistance equally must become the norm and not the exception,” said Florence Daunis, Deputy Director General at Humanity & Inclusion – Handicap International. “We witness how willing humanitarian actors are to change their practices to include women, men, girls, and boys with disabilities, yet more practical steps and coordination is needed to translate this ambition into practice.”

Humanitarian actors are welcoming the guidelines, helping them to translate the commitments made in recent years on high-level political events, such as the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. The Charter was endorsed by more than 230 humanitarian and human rights networks and organizations, networks of/and organizations of persons with disabilities, UN agencies and  governments; and, those made in 2018 at the Global Disability Summit in London.

The guidelines are available online in multiple accessible formats and translations forthcoming. They will be disseminated at regional and national levels in collaboration with multiple stakeholders and completed with learning materials.