EDF, EASPD and Inclusion Europe joint contribution to Commissioner Dalli meeting with civil society on support to Ukrainians
6 April 2022
The European Disability Forum, Inclusion Europe, and the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities have been working closely with organisations of people with disabilities and their support services in Ukraine since the start of the war.
From our partners in Ukraine, we have detailed information on the daily situation of people with disabilities, both those remaining in Ukraine, or who managed to flee. We also have information about how support is provided to people with disabilities, and the main barriers in doing so.
There are 2.7 million persons with disabilities registered in Ukraine.
There is a large number of people with disabilities placed in institutions. The numbers available vary from 30,000 to 250,000 people.
There are tens of thousands of people with disabilities who rely on the support and care of their family members. For many of the family members, this means 24/7 care without any chance of respite, for weeks.
In any situation of crisis or conflict, persons with disabilities face disproportionate risk of abandonment, violence, death, and a lack of access to safety, relief, and recovery support.
- Women with disabilities are at increased risk of sexual violence.
- Children with disabilities are more exposed to abuse and neglect.
- Crucial information on safety and evacuation is often inaccessible, and evacuation centres and shelters are rarely accessible.
Understandably, a lot of attention is given to evacuating people with disabilities. However, most of people with disabilities remain in the country.
- They are in direct danger, exacerbated by inaccessible shelters.
- Their immediate needs include water, food, medicines, disability related support, sanitary products, cash for their subsistence.
- Access to information on their options to be safe, access to disability related services.
- They should have access to evacuation if they choose.
When people reach the EU, it is important that they can:
- Cross the border and have access to information on their legal rights and support available.
- Find inclusive and accessible places to stay.
- Have their disability status recognised without delay.
- Access disability-related services and support without delay.
- Have access to public services such as education, health care etc.
Relocation and evacuation measures should not make more persons with disabilities to live in institutions on a long-term basis.
Particular attention must be paid to those who are most at risk – including women, children, blind and deafblind persons, persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, and persons with high support needs.
Until now, a significant amount of the work to welcome refugees with disabilities in the border countries, including their relocation to housing and support in other European countries, is done by the disability movement and NGOs.
- Whilst the disability organisations and NGOs are keen to be part of the solution, they cannot be THE solution.
- Relevant humanitarian agencies, both national and international, must provide disability specific support. Despite many claims of “disability inclusion”, we cannot see it happening in practice.
We call on the EU to:
1.Ensure the humanitarian response within Ukraine reaches, and is inclusive of people with disabilities.
This can be done by requesting detailed reporting by EU-funded humanitarian organisations on their support to people with disabilities.
2. Coordinate with member states to ensure the protection and safety of children and adults with disabilities seeking refuge in the EU.
To ensure proper monitoring and support of people with disabilities arriving to the EU.
To ensure their disability status is recognised without delay.
To facilitate with member states, relevant authorities, and NGOs to help Ukrainians with disabilities and their families relocate within the EU and being able to use inclusive and accessible housing, support and other services.
3. Provide clear guidance on situation of people with disabilities, and the response to it.
To raise publicly the situation of people with disabilities, and how the humanitarian response must take them into account.
To provide clear instructions on how the CARE initiative and Solidarity Platform should be used for specific, targeted support for people with disabilities.
4. Plan for the future
All EU funding and re-development initiatives must be disability-inclusive from the very beginning.
Member states must start work to be ready to support disability inclusion longer-term. For example school inclusion of children with disabilities.
European Disability Forum: