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"In Asia Pacific, there are 370 million persons with disabilities, 238 million of them of working age. Their unemployment rate is usually double that of the general population and often as high as 80% or more" - Debra A Perry ‘Disability issues in the employment and social protection, 2002 (sourced in the UN Enable Factsheet on Disability & Employment, 2011)
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Gaza crisis

CBM and partners' response to the Gaza crisis

A woman talking to a child in sign language in a scene of rubble
Ahlam, a 5th grade student of Atfaluna School (who is deaf), with her brothers, looking at the rubble of their house and trying to understand what happened and why

11 August 2014 - CBM and local partners are working together to equip families in Gaza with food and hygiene kits, and to provide support to severely injured people.

Persons with disabilities among most affected

It is now more than a month since the start of the most recent crisis in Palestine. Although hostilities have been less intense in recent days, they continue to result in additional fatalities and property damage across the Gaza Strip. According to the latest OCHA report, at least 425,000 people are now displaced in emergency shelters or with host families.

In any emergency or disaster, people who live with some form of disability are disproportionally affected. Reasons for this include
  • inaccessibility of warning messages and emergency shelters
  • loss of and damage to assistive devices
  • disruption of support networks
  • increased difficulty in accessing basic humanitarian needs (food, water, shelter, sanitation and health care services)
At the same time, emergencies can increase the number of people who experience disability, both short and long-term, due to injuries sustained and lack of effective medical services.

CBM response - food and hygeine kits plus medical support

A man looking at a destroyed house ©DanChurchAid
Destroyed homes, Gaza, July 2014.
Distribution of food and hygiene kits to 2100 families, including families with persons with disabilities
  • CBM is supporting DanChurchAid (DCA) to provide food and Hygiene kits to the population including families with persons with disabilities. The hygiene kits include specific items for persons with disabilities, which are of vital importance. DCA is working hand in hand with the Jabalia Rehabilitation Society and Atfaluna to identify persons with disabilities and ensure that they have access to relief.
  • So far, 70% of our targeted 2,100 families have been reached, and efforts are continuing to reach out to more families with persons with disabilities, among others. This has been made possible thanks to the dedicated team in Gaza that risk their own lives to provide support to the most at risk.
Support to severely injured people
  • CBM partner The Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation (BASR), based in the West Bank, in coordination with the Ministry of Health, is receiving severely injured people from the Gaza Strip for surgery and rehabilitation. The transfer of patients depends on the opening of the border crossing points for evacuation. CBM is working with BASR in order to ensure that all material and medicines are available for treatment, rehabilitation and follow up of those patients.

A long-standing alliance with local partners

CBM has been supporting the Atfaluna Society for deaf Children for many years, providing support to women, men, girls and boys with hearing impairment. CBM has supported them several times in rebuilding their lives as conflict erupts regularly in this region of the world.

Since beginning of July we have been able to talk with the Atfaluna’s director and we are thankful that until now all their staff is safe. However, he also reported that it is still very difficult to find out what has happened to the many children and families Atfaluna is supporting as communication has been severely impacted by the conflict. Furthermore, internal displacement and the complex security situation has made it impossible for any real follow up of the beneficiaries’ well-being.

The World Health Organisation estimates than 15% of a population is disabled and in a war context, that may still be a under-estimate as the conflict itself often leaves a number of people with injuries who more often than not don’t have the necessary access to appropriate care and rehabilitation. Furthermore the repetitive sound of explosions is a source of hearing impairment putting children at risk of deafness.

CBM is deeply concerned about persons with disabilities in Gaza since their impairment may make it more difficult for them to move away from the hot spots either because they have mobility limitation or simply because they do not understand the warning signs. The UN Convention on the Rights of people with disabilities clearly states in its article 11 that States Parties have a responsibility to protect and ensure safety of persons with disabilities in situation of risks and humanitarian emergencies. This means that all necessary measures should be taken to ensure that persons with disabilities and those at risk have safe and appropriate access to relief actions in order to ensure their survival.
I. We call upon state actors to fully respect international humanitarian law and ensure the protection of people with disabilities, as also required in Article 11 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which declares 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.”
II. We call upon all actors to ensure that people with disabilities have immediate access to all humanitarian interventions in the Gaza Strip, in particular those within: (1) Health and Nutrition, (2) Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; (3) Protection; (4) Shelter; (5) Psychosocial support.

More reading

Humanitarian Action

CBM working with local partners to ensure that people with disabilities are included at all levels of disaster preparedness and response



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