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Interview with Valérie Scherrer


My name is Valerie and I am the Emergency Unit Head of CBM
Why do you work in the field of disability?
I've always worked with persons with disabilities since the day I started working
but I am specifically interested
in that field, because emergency is, in a way, opportunity to change
when you work in the field of disability, where
it takes years to change attitudes of people,
To build accessible schools and hospitals
When you work in emergencies you have a chance
to do that in a very short time frame
with resources because there is money in emergencies
and you can really change the situation and
the living conditions of persons with disabilities.
Why are you attending this conference?
There are different reasons. One is my field. I think
disability and emergency, crisis and conflict is my field.
but the other reason is that I am part
of the International Disability and Development Consortium,
which is 26 different disability and development organisations
and I'm chairing the task group or an emergency and disability.
Therefore I've been asked by Atlas Alliance
as an IDDC representative to help them to organise the conference
and to bring in some content and participants to the conference.
What are your thoughts on this conference?
I think it's great. I think we have a large diversity of people,
and I think we have many persons with disabilities who are able to
take the word and speak on their own experience and their own work.
and I think it's great, because that's the only way we really have to
open eyes on mainstream organisations generally, public and whoever
so I think it's addressing the need and addressing the issue that
we want to put on the middle of the stage
if I can say so for the moment.
So it's a key milestone I think.
What do you hope people with disabilities can gain from this conference?
Hopefully other organisations will start looking for them in crisis situations
and will start recording that
saying "okay, they are there, we need them"
"We need to find them because they are part of the
most vulnerable and we need to do something for them."
So hopefully that's one side.
The other side, I hope that
Persons with disabilities themselves if we manage
to disseminate enough of this information about the conference
will be on board to raise their voice and say
"we are here! something has happened, somebody has said
something about how we can be helped
or supported and how we can anticipate to that effort.
We want to be part of it, we want to be there".
and our hope that this will happen in the future, yeah.
What are your thoughts on the future for people
with disabilities in conflict and emergency situations?
in the field of disability and emergency I think the
future is quite a positive and bright one
first because they are legal instruments which came in
recently, like the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
that there are certain governments having interest in taking up the issue
so I think we are going towards something very positive and
towards real changes in the way people perceive persons with disability in emergencies.
I also and I am really glad from that conference,
I see that now disabled people's movements are taking up the issues
and are in a position where they are willing
also to learn from the humanitarian sector
to exchange and to be part of it, so
if you look at all of that, if all of that really happens
probably in 10 years I won't have any job anymore
because they will be able to do the
job, without having anyone to support them.

Valérie Scherrer - Senior Manager, CBM Emergency Response Unit - talking about her work, the 2011 international conference to discuss inclusion of people with disabilities in emergency response in Norway, and the future in this field.

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Valerie Scherrer

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