Published on: March 23, 2022
The current war in Ukraine shows once again how vulnerable the position of people with disabilities is. Structural barriers, discrimination and inequality ensure that – even in crisis situations – this group is hardly reached by most emergency aid organisations and existing financing flows.
Of the 2.7 million people with disabilities in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands live in healthcare facilities. Several healthcare facilities have already been destroyed and staff have largely fled the unsafe areas. Residents lack care, food, medicine and protection. Others have turned their bathrooms into their bomb shelters at home because actual air raid shelters are inaccessible. Many emergency aid organisations indicate that they cannot arrange accessible transport. Some men who are deaf or blind, or who have HIV or a heart condition, and who are not conscripted because of their disability, are pressured at the border to enlist anyway.
It is the interest groups of people with disabilities themselves, such as Fight for Right, and healthcare institutions, such as SOFT tulip, that have the best idea of these needs. At the outbreak of the war, because of their existing network, they were able to react the fastest to arrange support for evacuations and medicines for this group. However, these organisations lack access to the emergency aid funds to which the Dutch Cooperating Aid Organisations, Red Cross, Dutch Relief Alliance and UN organisations do have access. Most regular emergency aid agencies barely apply the international IASC guidelines for inclusive emergency aid, to which the Netherlands has committed itself. And people with disabilities are literally trapped in that vacuum – a crisis within a crisis.
DCDD provided input for the committee debate on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine on Thursday 24 March. Points of attention in this regard are providing insight into the extent to which people with disabilities are reached by, among other things, the Cooperating Aid Organisations, the application of a disability inclusion marker or indicator and the options for providing emergency aid funding to organisations of and for people with disabilities.