One year ago, Handicap International entered a ground-breaking Charter launched by the UN Secretary-General at the World Humanitarian Summit. The Charter on the inclusion of people with disabilities in humanitarian action generated an historical momentum to engage all stakeholders to commit for disability inclusion. On its first anniversary, we’re calling for continued mobilization to ensure that no one–particularly people with disabilities–is left behind.
Leaving no one behind
Often invisible to humanitarian actors, people with disabilities–representing 1 in 7 people affected by a crisis–are often overlooked in the planning of humanitarian operations. According to a study conducted by Handicap International on people with disabilities in humanitarian (emergency) contexts, 75% of people affected by a humanitarian crisis do not receive equal access to basic assistance such as water, food, shelter, and medical care. In addition, 50% of them lack access to services such as assistive devices. Furthermore, during a crisis, the weakening or outright disappearance of peer and support networks add to the isolation and the risk of abuse faced by persons with disabilities, particularly women and girls.
In line with the 2030 agenda and the new Sustainable Development Goals, the World Humanitarian Summit represented a critical opportunity to ensure that humanitarian action recognizes and addresses the needs and rights of persons with disabilities, in partnership with people with disabilities and their representative organizations.
Walking the talk: Advancing the implementation of the Charter
Today, more than 150 stakeholders from States, UN agencies, international civil society, community, and global, regional and national organizations of persons with disabilities have endorsed the Charter. The Charter revolves around five core principles:
- Equal access to services for everyone
- Full participation of persons with disabilities in crisis decision-making
- Development of global guidelines and policies
- Sharing of expertise and cooperation between all actors
The signatories of the Charter committed to improving the efficiency of the planning and delivery of humanitarian action based on these core principles. To set out an agenda and establish concrete measures on how to implement the Charter, guidelines on inclusion of people with disabilities in humanitarian action are now being drafted.
This anniversary is an occasion to reaffirm our determination to make humanitarian action inclusive of people with disabilities. Handicap International calls on all States, humanitarian and development actors to endorse the Charter and support its full implementation. Handicap International is also eager to keep the global collaboration ongoing to place people with disabilities at the center of humanitarian response.
As of publication, the U.S. has not endorsed the Charter.