World Humanitarian Day: CBM calls for better inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian response
- © CBM/argum/Einberger
This year, the World Humanitarian Day will be marked in a context where armed conflicts and disasters such as earthquakes and food crises are causing an increase in the number of persons living with disabilities.
At the same time, there are often barriers that prevent persons with disabilities themselves from accessing the humanitarian relief provided by aid agencies, be they governmental or non-governmental, local or international.
CBM promotes a disability-inclusive approach to humanitarian response and has demonstrated through partnerships with ‘mainstream organisations’ that it could and should be a concern shared by every humanitarian stakeholder.
Persons with disabilities left out
This was no exception, as far as humanitarian responses go. Persons with disabilities who are among the most vulnerable groups in times of food insecurity and other emergencies are often hidden or left behind. Despite the humanitarian community’s genuine efforts, they and their families may not be able to access emergency response services made available by them due to difficulties in mobility, hearing, seeing and understanding. And this was recently acknowledged at a conference by Valerie Amos, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs: ‘People with disabilities are often the last to get the help they need during conflict and disasters.’
A moral and legal obligation to include them
Indeed, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that entered into force in 2008 states in its Article 11 that ‘States Parties shall take (…) all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters‘.
CBM’s direct response to the Horn of Africa food crisis
CBM partners have also been identifying people with disabilities and delivering assistive devices so that they can better access food distribution by other relief agencies. This was in particular the case in Kenya this year where about 500 mobility aids such as wheelchairs, tricycles and walkers produced by the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya (ADPK) , have been delivered during the drought relief efforts.
Working together to mainstream disability in humanitarian response
NGOs such as the Kenya Red Cross Society, Merlin and Intermón Oxfam are mainstream organisations inasmuch as they have a broad mandate and target whole populations. The aim of the partnerships CBM has developed with them on the occasion of the Horn of Africa crisis is to ensure that persons with disabilities are identified by their teams as a vulnerable group and are included in all interventions during their emergency response.
These collaborations therefore allow many more persons with disabilities to be included and receive the vital help they and their families need. CBM working together with other large NGOs ensures the disability issues are taken into account both as a cross-cutting issue related to humanitarian response, but also, as it should be, as a human rights issue.