EASPD urges peace and protection of life in conflict in Ukraine

EASPD expresses strong concerns over today’s developments and the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces.

The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities expresses strong concerns over today’s developments and the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces.

On top of its direct threat to human life, war impacts livelihoods, mobility, and access to much needed social, health, education, and other basic services. This impacts everyone. It particularly affects more vulnerable people and those with support needs; such as older people, persons with disabilities, children, homeless people and others. These people are often the invisible victims of any conflict; meaning not that they are affected less, but that their suffering is not talked about. They are too often an afterthought by public authorities in their response to any conflict, who forget or ignore the social impact of any military conflict.

For people with support needs and vulnerable people, access to such social and health services can literally result in life or death. It is an issue of fundamental human rights; rights that must be upheld even – perhaps even especially – in times of crisis; as outlined in Article 11 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This morning already, many social services are working hard to provide the right support to individuals across Ukraine. This demonstrates the considerable commitment by social and care workers towards the people they support. For many workers this will be at a considerable personal risk; in great contrast to the support and recognition they receive.  Governments need to ensure that support services can do their job and help limit the huge social consequences of the crisis. We also remember the many family carers who support their children and relatives with disability, and who receive little or no assistance. They now face new threats that add to their daily stresses.

We urge all governments and authorities to return to negotiations and find agreement to enable sustainable peace across the region. Peace and the protection of life should be the priority. In the meanwhile, we strongly ask all decision-makers to consider the situation of the Ukrainian people and in particular persons with disabilities and other vulnerable people during this crisis. Targeted action is needed immediately to avoid a social crisis developing on top of the political and military crisis.

Jim Crowe, President of EASPD, said: “Our thoughts are with those affected by the current crisis in Ukraine. We want to express solidarity with the organisations and workers who continue to provide essential support services, as well as to the millions affected by the current crisis. On Monday, we will discuss and learn more about the current situation in Ukraine for support services for persons with disabilities, from experts who are active on-the-ground. We hope this will be the start of our work towards a practical demonstration of our support and solidarity in the weeks to come.

Join us online on Monday 28th February to learn and discuss more about how the ongoing conflict affects persons with disabilities and their support in Ukraine.

Please contact:

Thomas Bignal
Head of Policy
+32 2 233 77 23

Note to editors:

The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is a non-profit European umbrella organisation, established in 1996, and currently representing over 20,000 social and health services for persons with disabilities. EASPD advocates effective and high-quality disability-related services in the field of education, employment and individualised support, in line with the UN CRPD principles, which could bring benefits not only to persons with disabilities, but to society as a whole.