Conditions are extremely harsh for everyone living in South Sudan’s Bentiu camp, but people with disabilities are particularly vulnerable. A new report by Humanity & Inclusion and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) assesses the situation in the Bentiu Protection of Civilians Site in South Sudan, where humanitarian services struggle to meet the needs of people with disabilities.
The civil war raging in South Sudan has forced many Southern Sudanese to flee to camps like Bentiu. Several humanitarian organizations are helping, but improvements must be made to ensure humanitarian response takes into account the needs and rights of people with disabilities.
Present in the field, HI and IOM have identified discriminating factors affecting people with disabilities and recommended ways to promote more inclusive humanitarian response.
Inaccessible water and food
People with disabilities say they’re unable to fully benefit from the site’s humanitarian infrastructure and services. Major barriers identified include long distances, inaccessible infrastructure and roads, information formats poorly adapted to their disability, and discrimination. In fact, some 49% of surveyed people with disabilities reported particular difficulty accessing clean drinking water due to the distance to water pumps and unsuitable road surfaces. Many people reported difficulty moving around their shelter. Children with disabilities cannot access child-friendly spaces.
Although there are priority queues at food distribution sites, people with disabilities are finding it difficult to get their rations home safely, because containers are unsuitable and often stolen by others along the routes to their shelters.
These are just some of the discriminating factors that make daily life more difficult for people with disabilities in the camp.
Inclusive humanitarian services needed
The report suggests ways for humanitarian services to become more inclusive. These include prioritizing funding for inclusive programs, adapting infrastructure and information sources, improving mechanisms to protect against abusive behaviour, and requesting technical support from local and international disability representatives.
Funding bodies, camp coordinators and humanitarian organizations can ensure that people with disabilities feel protected and involved in sites like Bentiu. By adapting their activities to meet the needs of people with disabilities, humanitarian actors can optimize services for people living in camps and help ensure inclusive and accessible humanitarian assistance for all.