The conditions facing people with disabilities in conflict zones

Poverty, conflict and disability

Conflicts have upset the lives of millions in the world and have affected children, women and men. Most of them are still suffering and at risk of losing their lives. In time of violence and war, very little space is dedicated to people with disabilities and serious health problems.

When it comes to poverty, conflict and violence, it is very difficult to find accurate data and information on the specific impacts for people with disabilities. There is little space dedicated to highlighting the multifaceted complexities impacting those who are faced with the choice to flee conflict zones, without the means or support to do so. Yet, the war in Ukraine has highlighted the need for increased visibility, everyone should be able to access evacuation routes. The humanitarian community must highlight that during conflict, people with disabilities are even more penalized and invisible.

The situation in Ukraine

On 10 March, some of the main European organizations dealing with disabilities, as the European association of service provider for persons with disabilities (Easpd), the European disability forum (Edf) and Inclusion Europe, organized a press conference entitled “War on Ukraine: What Situation for Persons with Disabilities?”.

In Ukraine there are 2.7 million people with disabilities but only 1 in 10 people manage to flee in search of safety. It is really difficult for those with physical impediments, for blind or deaf people, or for those who depend on life-saving medical machineries, to leave their homes and cities and to find safety elsewhere, away from the continuous bombings.

In the meantime, it is extremely difficult to find life-saving medicines and many people are forced to suspend their treatments, worsening an already compromised condition. Numerous public residences that used to host adults and children with disabilities have been destroyed, others are understaffed and underequipped, in others the situation has become chaotic due to the absence of staff who either fled the country or was victim of the bombings.

War makes the lives of the most vulnerable people extremely complicated, as they risk of being further marginalized and abandoned. Despite the existence of international obligations that guarantee the protection of persons with disabilities, such as Article 11 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the UN Security Council Resolution no. 2475-2019, the situation of people with disabilities continues to be dramatic, in Ukraine as well as in all the countries affected by conflict, violence and extreme poverty.

#MOASMissionUkraine and medical evacuations

MOAS is present in Ukraine as part of its #MOASMissionUkraine, a humanitarian program created to provide emergency medical assistance and first aid services to civilians affected by the conflict. With our Mobile Medical Units (MMU) we are committed to assisting children, women and men and to evacuating families with disabilities or serious health problems. In the last month we have carried out several medical evacuations of families with children with cancer, cerebral paralysis or diabetes, who were no longer able to access the medical care they needed. We have evacuated them and took them to a safe place where they now are receiving the medical assistance they need.

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