PEOPLE with disabilities in regions hit by humanitarian crises are so marginalised and excluded that they are often unable to benefit from international aid and intervention, charities warned at the first Global Disability Summit last week.
New data is needed, they say, to find out how many disabled people are missing out on emergency aid and support.
The charity World Vision’s senior health programmes adviser, Desiree Stewart, said that it was investing in ensuring that its humanitarian aid reached these most vulnerable sections of the community: “In humanitarian contexts, people with disabilities are some of the most marginalised and neglected, as, in most humanitarian responses, the focus is on meeting basic and essential needs.
“World Vision does a lot of humanitarian work in crises around the world, and we have a new investment in reaching out to the most vulnerable children. One of the things that makes people vulnerable is disability, and we want to ensure that these even more vulnerable children are included in our projects.”
The summit, which took place in London, was co-hosted by the UK Government, the government of Kenya, and the International Disability Alliance. It is believed to be the largest ever gathering of disabled people, governments, charities, and business leaders.
Charities urged all governments to put the inclusion of disabled people at the heart of all aid, and humanitarian and development efforts.
The conference heard that 80 per cent of those living with a disability live in developing countries, and about 40 per cent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school.
The International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, urged other countries to “stand alongside people with disabilities in their country, commit to ending stigma, and fully value the contribution they can make to the success of their nations”.
Among the commitments made at the conference were nine government pledges to pass new laws or revise laws to give disabled people greater rights, and to support specifically more people with disabilities affected by humanitarian crises. The Australian government will give £12.5 million to support disability-inclusive action in response to the Syria crisis.
UN agencies also made a commitment to do more to include people with disabilities, including helping a further 30 million children with disabilities to gain a good education.
Countries and governments from both the West and the Global South were represented at the summit, which was hailed by the organisers as a success.