Disabilities in Humanitarian Action

In humanitarian emergencies, children with disabilities are among those most at risk. They are more likely to experience violence, exploitation and abuse, compared to children without disabilities. They are more likely to be out of school and to have their health needs unmet; and are often unable to access water, sanitation and hygiene services and facilities. But these risks can be addressed through inclusive programming. Inclusion of children with disabilities needs to be explicitly reflected in emergency preparedness planning, in needs assessment processes and in planning and monitoring humanitarian response, across all sectors.

 

A key element of inclusive programming is to identify and address any environmental, communication and attitudinal barriers faced by children with disabilities. And local organizations of persons with disabilities can be an important resource in this regard. For example, considering whether risk communication and community engagement activities are accessible for children with hearing, visual, intellectual or physical impairments; ensuring that WASH services  and facilities meet accessibility standards; and that communities are engaged in combating disability- related stigma and discrimination. Also key to planning and monitoring inclusive programming is disaggregation of data by disability, in order to understand how children with disabilities are impacted by humanitarian emergencies and how they are being reached with services and assistance. Finally, children and young people with disabilities are not only beneficiaries of assistance but have important contributions in making communities more inclusive and safe. It is essential that they have opportunities to use their skills and capacities to their full potential.

 

The UNICEF Disability Section works to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities are promoted in all of UNICEF’s programming and in our work with partners, including in emergency preparedness and response. It does this by adapting programming to meet the needs of all children, and by engaging children with disabilities as agents of change

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