“When the fighting broke out, we fled to the UN compound and we left my mother and brother-in-law behind because they couldn’t walk, and we couldn’t carry them. The son of my brother-in-law, who had a mental health condition, would not leave his father behind so they all burned together in the fire.”
Female on South Sudan war, Human Rights Watch
“I had a feeling that in a situation of war, we [the disabled community] would be the first victims…Maybe not directly, but we would become victims because of our disability.”
Sachuk on Ukraine war, Time
How humanitarian crises increase the vulnerability of persons with disabilities
People with disabilities are recognized as among the most marginalized and at-risk population in any crisis-affected community and are found to ‘form one of the most socially excluded groups in any displaced or conflict-affected community’ (Pearce et al, 2016: 119). What makes them of greater risk of violence than their nondisabled peers?
They may have difficulty accessing humanitarian assistance programmes, due to a variety of societal, attitudinal, environmental and communication barriers. Which makes them more prone to violent attacks, forced displacement, and ongoing neglect in the humanitarian response to civilians caught up in tension. Their support networks are also affected such as access to services, including protection and humanitarian assistance.
The need for solidarity in disabled communities has become ever more clear with the Ukranian invasion. The war has exacerbated these issues, resulting in what Yannis Vardakastanis, chair of the International Disability Alliance, called “a humanitarian crisis within a crisis.”
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