The inclusion of people with disabilities in humanitarian actions will enable Relief International and others to better provide basic services for those with physical disabilities and mental health issues.
The new guidelines for the inclusion of people with disabilities in humanitarian actions by the United Nations are intended to supplement the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action.
The inclusion of people with disabilities in humanitarian action guidelines was drafted by a team within the Inter-Agency Standing Committee — the UN mechanism for coordinating humanitarian assistance — as well as people with disabilities, civil society, and humanitarian stakeholders.
"Across the world, we are at a time when humanitarian actors need to collaborate with volunteers with disabilities to learn what disability-inclusive humanitarian action looks like, said Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, deputy executive director at UNICEF.
Today, over 20 million people with disabilities have been impacted and displaced by natural disasters and conflicts globally and it is a known fact that people with disabilities are four times more likely to die in a disaster than their peers without disabilities.
The provision of equal access to basic services during natural disasters and crises is well needed. Volunteers with disabilities can save a life, render help to people with disabilities. Getting donors to make disability inclusion compulsory is one task that must be done.
A lot of people think that the inclusion of people with disabilities in humanitarian actions is about specific needs related to health, [or that] it’s so complex, or [that it’s] going to take time, but that’s definitely not the case. Humanitarian organizations shouldn't be afraid to take this on board. It’s easy to do. It’s only a matter of changing their scope or lens.
A major point made when drafting the guidelines is that not all disabilities are visible or 'packaged' into one issue or source. Humanitarian actors need to listen closely to the individuals' issues and provide solutions that, when possible, are customized to meet their needs, too.