Michele Lunsford

  • Mosul, Iraq | Still displaced two years after the fighting

    One million people fled the fighting in the aftermath of the Battle of Mosul, which ended in July 2017. Some 500,000 are still living in camps for displaced people across Nineveh province. According to the United Nations, two million people need humanitarian assistance.

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    "Families still living in the camps are unable or unwilling to return home for several reasons,” explains Stéphane Senia, HI’s head of mission in Iraq. “They fear for their safety in this region controlled by a multitude of armed groups. They are afraid of the explosive remnants of war contaminating Mosul and surrounding villages. They often have nowhere to go because their neighborhood has been completely destroyed and its social and economic life no longer exists.”

    Destroyed homes, hospitals, schools, and roads

    In Mosul, 65% of houses and apartments have been damaged, according to the United Nations. Although life has resumed in the eastern half of the city, the western half—where most of the fighting took place—remains heavily contaminated by explosive remnants of war and improvised mines. Vital infrastructure such as schools and hospitals have been destroyed. Roads and bridges are still impassable.

    "The western half of the city has been almost abandoned due to a lack of resources and political inability to organize weapons clearance and rebuild the city,” adds Stéphane. “In the short term, there is no prospect of things improving. The western districts are likely to remain as they are for several years." 

    “The level of contamination is still unbelievably high in Mosul and the surrounding region.”

    “Many families returning to Mosul won’t have any experience of explosive remnants of war and booby traps in particular. Residents are forced to take risks because they have no other choice. The western half of the city is so contaminated it’s like a minefield under the rubble.

    Humanity & Inclusion’s teams are working across nine camps—reaching 120,000 people—to ensure that people understand the dangers of explosive remnants of war, so that when they return to their homes, they can do so in safety. “They will travel throughout the city and get people to think about what a suspicious device looks like, what the risks are, and what to do if they find one. The goal is to reduce the number of accidents, which remains significant, two years after the fighting.

    An unofficial evaluation by iMMAP found an average of 40 weekly explosive incidents across the country at the end of February.

    Major rehabilitation needs

    Since July 2017, Humanity & Inclusion has been providing rehabilitation care and psychological support in two hospitals run by Doctors Without Borders—the first in Mosul itself—and the second near the village of Qayara. We also set up rehabilitation care and psychosocial support reception points across the nine camps. Since launching this support, our teams have provided rehabilitation care to 2,500 displaced Iraqis. But the needs remains high.

    "We have to put people on a waiting list for rehabilitation care because the demand is so high and our response capacities are limited due to the disengagement of emergency funding bodies," Stéphane adds. We provide care to improve the mobility of patients and ensure that they can do everyday activities such as getting out of bed, going to the toilet, etc. as autonomously as possible. We also provide them with psychological counseling because many of them have anxiety or depression. We help many people who are totally lost and don't know what their future will be like." Since the summer of 2017, Humanity & Inclusion has provided psychosocial support to 1,500 people.


  • published Disability Pride NYC Parade 2019-07-08 16:33:54 -0400

    New York City | Humanity & Inclusion shows its #DisabilityPride

    Humanity & Inclusion was thrilled to be part of this year's Disability Pride Parade in New York City! Thanks to all who stopped by our booth to say hello. We really enjoyed catching up with old friends and making new ones! 

    We're so grateful to Greyston Bakery for sponsoring our special giveaway: brownies! They were a hit! Just up the road in Yonkers, Greyston hires people with disabilities and other individuals who face barriers to employment. As Mike Brady, the CEO and President says, "We don't hire people to bake brownies, we bake brownies to hire people." With inclusion at the core of our DNA, HI couldn't be more excited about this new partnership.

    Some of our favorite tweets from the day

    In case you missed it

    A bit about us: Humanity & Inclusion is a 37-year-old aid organization. Our teams work alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable individuals in nearly 60 countries, taking action and bearing witness in order to respond to essential needs, improve living conditions and promote respect for the dignity and fundamental rights of people with disabilities.

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  • Nepal | Nishan gains strength to play his favorite sport: badminton!

    Nishan and Sonu are huddled together with their eyes glued to the screen of a mobile phone. They are chatting with their father in Qatar, where he works. The last time they saw him was a year ago. Their mother, Nira Rai, is next to them, working in the kitchen, which doubles as a bedroom. She washes the vegetables for dhal, a Nepalese lentil dish.

    Nira Rai begins to share about the day her son’s life changed. “Nishan was five-years-old,” she explains. “He was coming home from school with his friends. On the road, they came across a truck. They were very excited. They rushed to the truck and clambered inside.

    “That’s when Nishan fell out of the vehicle, but the truck was still moving. It was terrible. He was in so much pain he blacked out. I saw him the next day in the hospital and his leg was badly cut up. He was suffering a lot.”

    For three days, the doctors did everything they could do to save his leg. But eventually, they decided  he needed an amputation. "When Nishan realized he’d lost his left leg, he cried and cried. He was devastated. He asked me if he’d ever walk again. To reassure him, I promised he would. But I was far from sure.”

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    In 2012, Nira Rai met with a social worker from a Community Based Rehabilitation Center in Biratnagar, eastern Nepal, which is supported by Humanity & Inclusion. There, Nishan began his first rehabilitation session.

    “We gave Nishan a prosthesis and helped him learn how to walk again,” explains Bharati Dev, a physical therapist with HI. “We also taught his family how to do the exercises with him at home. And as Nishan grew taller, we lengthened his prosthesis.

    “In 2017, there were major floods across the whole district. The rehabilitation center was under water, and his prosthesis was damaged, so we had to stop his care. When we resumed our activities, in 2018, we gave Nishan a second prosthesis.

    “Every three months, Nishan visits the center. He needs to be closely monitored because his prosthesis hurts him sometimes due to the poor condition of his stump. It can get infected very quickly,” Dev adds.

    "Since he was fitted with his prosthesis, Nishan is more self-reliant,” his mother says with a smile. “After his accident, his friends laughed at him. He was depressed and withdrawn. Today, Nishan is very active. He plays a lot with his friends and his sister. And he loves badminton.”

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    Nishan, who is now 14, goes to the Himalaya Secondary School in Damak, five minutes from home. He likes learning English, doing crossword puzzles, and using the computer. He has a close circle of friends and helps his mother in the kitchen. His dream? “I want to go to China,” he says. “It’s a big country. I’ve heard a lot about it. And then, I would like to see my father again.”

    Many thanks to the American people, through USAID, for supporting this project. 

    Learn more about the work we do in Nepal.


  • published Mozambique | Your impact in pictures in News 2019-06-27 15:48:55 -0400

    Mozambique | Your impact in pictures

    Since Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique in mid-March, residents of Beira’s poorest municipalities have faced an uphill struggle to meet their daily needs—food, water, shelter, and health care. Thanks to support from USAID and our donors, Humanity & Inclusion is providing essential aid to the most vulnerable.

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    Humanity & Inclusion in Mozambique

    Humanity & Inclusion has been working in Mozambique since 1986, and is best known there for our work helping victims of landmines and other explosive ordnance left from the country’s civil war. We ran a large demining operation that wrapped up when the country declared itself mine free in 2015. Most recently, staff work to promote the rights and social participation of people with disabilities, support civil society to improve the social inclusion of people with disabilities, and prevent the development of disabilities. 


  • published Chad | A day in the life of an HI deminer in News 2019-06-25 14:32:57 -0400

    Chad | A day in the life of an HI deminer

    Humanity & Inclusion has been conducting weapons clearance operations near Faya-Largeau, the capital of Borku province in northern Chad, since November 2018. Gilles Lordet, a communications officer at HI, recently joined our team of weapons clearance experts and observed their typical work day. It all starts at 4:30 AM. Read on!

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    4:30 AM: Before sunrise, the team drives to a site in Wadagar, about ten miles from Faya-Largeau. The weapons clearance team starts their day early so they can take advantage of the fresh morning air.

    5:00 AM: The team arrives in Wadagar, located in the middle of the desert, along a railroad track. On this particular morning, fifteen weapons clearance experts working on the site gather around Pitchou Lusamba, the operations supervisor. "We're going to start with the weapons clearance platform,” Lusamba explains. “The weapons clearance experts will only be brought in if necessary.”

    5:30 AM: To assist with clearance, our teams use a SAG200, made especially for Humanity & Inclusion and our operations in Chad. The SAG200 is like a huge combine harvester. Its rotating front arms detonate all explosive devices in its path. A separate truck transports the SAG200 to the site. After unloading and some adjustments are made, it’s ready for action. Charles Coly, a weapons clearance expert trained to use the machine, controls it remotely at a safe distance.

    "For safety reasons, I always need to be more than 500 feet from the machine when it is on contaminated land,” Coly explains. “The front arms rotate at nearly 3,000 rpm. They dig 8 inches into the ground and destroy all explosive devices in their path. Normally, the mines are automatically torn to pieces–they don't even have time to explode. But sometimes they do. A few weeks ago, a rocket exploded as the machine passed over it. The machine was unharmed. It’s designed to withstand an explosion."

    7:00 AM: Six weapons clearance experts equip themselves with demining aprons, helmets, and metal detectors. They walk along the 650-foot access corridor to the clearance site where they work in teams of two. The first teammate demines and the second watches from a safe distance, ready to help if there is a problem.

    7:30 AM: Manual mine clearance work is long and meticulous. The weapons clearance experts work along a 3-foot-wide corridor. They pass the metal detector above the ground and advance in 17-inch steps. A ruler on the ground marks each step forward. "It may not look like it, but it's an exhausting job,” says Pitchou. “It's 40 degrees [Celsius], we're in full sunlight wearing all the equipment. Deminers need regular breaks. They must be fully focused on the job. Their movements need to be precise and they must follow the mine clearance instructions at all times.”

    By 8:00 AM, the temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The weapons clearance experts work in 45-minute shifts. At 10:00 AM, they take a break to rehydrate and get a bite to eat. They work like this until 12:00 PM, when the teams return to base. In the meantime, the machine returns to the garage and receives routine checks.

    The Faya-Largeau region has been slow to develop largely due to explosive remnants of war. Humanity & Inclusion’s mine clearance teams in Chad work tirelessly to clear the land, restoring the use of railroad tracks and land to the local people. This allows them to grow crops, raise livestock, and most importantly, live in safety.

    Humanity & Inclusion in Chad

    Since October 2014, HI has been working to reduce the threat of explosive remnants of war and provide essential assistance to the victims of these weapons in Chad. Nearly 300,000 people live under the constant threat of landmines and explosive remnants of war—the legacy of four decades of successive wars in Chad. The presence of these weapons is a major obstacle to the country’s development. Learn more about our work in Chad and how we’re making the land safe for generations to come.


  • UN Security Council adopts resolution on people with disabilities in armed conflicts

    June 20, 2019
    Contact: Michele Lunsford
    8143863853

    The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on people with disabilities in armed conflict, representing a significant step forward for people with disabilities, who are particularly at risk in crisis situations and often overlooked in humanitarian assistance.

    The UN resolution affirms that the impact of conflict on persons with disabilities is particularly high. All parties to conflict have the responsibility to protect all civilians, including people with disabilities, from the effects of war. Humanitarian aid actors must include the views and needs of people with disabilities in their definition of assistance.

    “Today we acted to protect some of those who need us most—people living with disabilities caught in the fog of war,” says Jeff Meer, U.S. Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion. “The protection of all civilians during armed conflict should be every nation’s goal, and the action today by the Security Council reinforces the idea, born out of some of humanity’s greatest wars, that innocent civilian lives must be spared during conflict, even in the heat of battle.”

    In addition to the needs of people with disabilities, violence during conflict will cause injuries and further impairments. A study by Humanity & Inclusion and iMMAP shows that more than 60% of the Syrian refugee households include a person with disability, and 1/5 of refugees in Lebanon and Jordan have a disability.

    “All civilians, including people with disabilities, must be protected during hostilities," says Elena Bertozzi, Humanity & Inclusion’s Advocacy Officer. "We must reduce the difficulties they face when fleeing fighting, when seeking protection and when accessing humanitarian services.”

    At least 1.3 million people in need inside Syria are living with a disability. According to a recent assessment in Western Aleppo, Idlib, and Raqqa, 30% of adults in Northern Syria have disabilities, twice the global average of 15%. New conflict and non-conflict related trauma cases lead to thousands of disabilities that will require long-term physical rehabilitation care.

    A December 2018 UN-NGOs study on access to health care in Northern Syria found that the prevalence of war-related injuries ranged from a high of 56% of respondents with disabilities in Idlib to 11% in Raqqa. Among those respondents, more than 95% reported that their injury had contributed to their disability.

    In Jordan, 80% of Syrians injured by explosive weapons expressed signs of high psychological distress. 66% of them were unable to carry out essential daily activities because of their feelings of fear, anger, fatigue, disinterest, and hopelessness. And 65% of them were so upset that they tried to avoid places, people, conversations, or any activities that reminded them of the traumatic event. 

    "The emphasis today is on people with disabilities, who truly need every assistance possible from all parties to conflict to remain far out of harm’s way," Meer adds. "As an American, I am proud that our UN delegation worked with other likeminded states on a resolution that reaffirms this basic premise. ”  

    In May 2016, Humanity & Inclusion and several partner organizations launched a Charter for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. It has been endorsed by more than 220 States, NGOs, and organizations of persons with disabilities, international institutions, UN agencies, member States, and donors. Humanity & Inclusion calls for continued mobilization to make inclusion a reality for all people with disabilities living in a crisis situation.

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    Notes

    Interview with Humanity & Inclusion’s spokesperson in Washington, DC and Europe available upon request

    About Humanity & Inclusion

    Humanity & Inclusion (the new name of Handicap International) is an independent charity working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work tirelessly alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable people to help meet their basic needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.

    Since its creation in 1982, Humanity & Inclusion has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. The network of 8 national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States) works constantly to mobilize resources, co-manage projects and promote the principles and actions of the organization. Humanity & inclusion is one of the six founding associations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, and winner of the 2011 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize.


  • UN Security Council adopts resolution to protect people with disabilities

    For the first time ever, the United Nations Security Council has adopted a resolution to protect people with disabilities in armed conflict and humanitarian crises. "This resolution is a great step forward for people with disabilities who are particularly at risk during conflict and can be inadvertently excluded by humanitarian organizations,” says Elena Bertozzi, Humanity & Inclusion’s Advocacy Officer.

    “All civilians, including people with disabilities, must be protected during hostilities. We must reduce the difficulties they face when fleeing fighting, when seeking protection and when accessing humanitarian services.”

    Responsibility to protect all civilians

    The UN resolution affirms that the impact of conflict on persons with disabilities is particularly high. All parties to conflict have the responsibility to protect all civilians, including people with disabilities, from the effects of war. Humanitarian aid actors must include the views and needs of people with disabilities in their definition of assistance.

    “Today we acted to protect some of those who need us most—people living with disabilities caught in the fog of war,” says Jeff Meer, U.S. Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion. “The protection of all civilians during armed conflict should be every nation’s goal, and the action today by the Security Council reinforces the idea, born out of some of humanity’s greatest wars, that innocent civilian lives must be spared during conflict, even in the heat of battle.”

    Disability and conflict

    In addition to the needs of people with disabilities, violence during conflict will cause injuries and further impairments. A study by Humanity & Inclusion and iMMAP shows that more than 60% of the Syrian refugee households include a person with disability, and 1/5 of refugees in Lebanon and Jordan have a disability.

    At least 1.3 million people in need inside Syria are living with a disability. According to a recent assessment in Western Aleppo, Idlib, and Raqqa, 30% of adults in Northern Syria have disabilities, twice the global average of 15%. New conflict and non-conflict related trauma cases lead to thousands of disabilities that will require long-term physical rehabilitation care.

    A December 2018 UN-NGOs study on access to health care in Northern Syria found that the prevalence of war-related injuries ranged from a high of 56% of respondents with disabilities in Idlib to 11% in Raqqa. Among those respondents, more than 95% reported that their injury had contributed to their disability.

    Psychological distress

    In Jordan, 80% of Syrians injured by explosive weapons expressed signs of high psychological distress. 66% of them were unable to carry out essential daily activities because of their feelings of fear, anger, fatigue, disinterest, and hopelessness. And 65% of them were so upset that they tried to avoid places, people, conversations, or any activities that reminded them of the traumatic event. 

    Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action

    "States and humanitarian organizations must listen to people with disabilities and take their needs into account, including issues of accessibility when launching post-conflict reconstruction plans.” Elena adds.

    In May 2016, Humanity & Inclusion and several partner organizations launched a Charter for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. It has been endorsed by more than 220 States, NGOs, and organizations of persons with disabilities, international institutions, UN agencies, member States, and donors. Humanity & Inclusion calls for continued mobilization to make inclusion a reality for all people with disabilities living in a crisis situation.


  • Mozambique | Distributing essential aid to vulnerable families in Beira

    Since Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique in mid-March, residents of Beira’s poorest municipalities, the ‘barrios,’ have faced an uphill struggle to meet their daily needs—food, water, shelter, and health care.

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    Humanity & Inclusion’s Atlas Logistics team coordinated the immediate clean-up efforts in these forgotten communities. It was essential to remove debris created by the storm so that humanitarian actors, including HI, could access hard-to-reach areas to deliver aid. Over five weeks, our logistics unit employed 443 local residents, half of whom are women.

    Ensuring vulnerable families are included

    Today, these impoverished communities face the daunting task of rebuilding. For vulnerable individuals, people with disabilities, older adults, and single mothers, finding the resources to repair or rebuild their homes is even more challenging. That’s why Humanity & Inclusion’s team is identifying vulnerable families in need and providing them with vital support.

    Distributing shelter repair kits

    Over the next three weeks, we will distribute 2,500 standard shelter repair kits which includes the following items: tarpaulin, rope, nails, washers, hoe, machete, saw, shovel, and hammer

    Humanity & Inclusion’s activities

    Completed

    • Debris removal to provide access to all main roads
    • Debris removal in 11 districts of Beira city
    • Surveillance and creation of 6 road access maps—shared with all humanitarian actors

    Ongoing

    • Distribution of 2,500 shelter repair kits to the most vulnerable residents of 10 districts in Beira city
    • Distribution of 815 essential household item kits to Humanity & Inclusion’s existing beneficiaries

    Humanity & Inclusion in Mozambique

    Humanity & Inclusion has been working in Mozambique since 1986, and is best known there for our work helping victims of landmines and other explosive ordnance left from the country’s civil war. We ran a large demining operation that wrapped up when the country declared itself mine free in 2015. Most recently, staff work to promote the rights and social participation of people with disabilities, support civil society to improve the social inclusion of people with disabilities, and prevent the development of disabilities. 


  • Women Deliver 2019 | Humanity & Inclusion resources and publications

    Thanks for stopping by our booth! In an effort to save paper, we've included a list of the downloadable publications that were mentioned during our Women Deliver event and highlighted at our booth.

    Protection Against Violence Based on Disability, Gender, Age (2019)

    Humanity & Inclusion works to prevent violence based on disability, gender and age and its disabling consequences in development and fragile settings, as well as to provide holistic care for survivors of violence, exploitation and abuse. Our goal is to ensure that people with disabilities and other at-risk groups are less exposed to violence and can live in dignity, independently, and with control over their own lives. Download the flier.

    Disability Inclusive Sexual and Reproductive Health (2019)

    Humanity & Inclusion promotes Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of people with disabilities and vulnerable populations in development and fragile settings. Download the flier.

    Non-Communicable Diseases: Prevention and Detection (2019)

    Humanity & Inclusion promotes the awareness raising, prevention, early detection, and care management of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes in development and fragile settings. Download the flier.


    Diverse Voices of Disabled Sexualities in the Global South (2019)

    Chapter 19: When Sexuality Meets Disability: Experiences, Attitudes, and Practices from China. Download the chapter.

    Promoting Inclusive Livelihoods (2019)

    Humanity & Inclusion works independently and with partners to design, implement, and evaluate gender and disability inclusive livelihood projects in low- and middle-income countries, empowering women and men with disabilities to access decent, sustainable work. Download the flier.

    Seeing the invisible: Sexuality-related knowledge, attitudes and behavior of children and youth with disabilities in China (2019)

    Young people with disabilities have the same right to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) as their peers without disabilities, but their needs and rights are often overlooked. The findings of this study, which was initiated by UNESCO and Humanity & Inclusion, aims to provide evidence to support decision-making by government agencies, educators, development workers and other relevant stakeholders regarding developing and implementing disability-inclusive SRH and sexuality education policies and program for young people in China. Download the report.

    The Making It Work Gender and disability project: supporting women and girls with disabilities addressing violence and discrimination in Africa – What's new in 2019?

    In October 2018, the Making It Work team released its 2nd call for good practices to eliminate discrimination and violence against women and girls with disabilities in Africa. 55 submissions have been reviewed by MIW’s Technical Advisory Committee, and in 2019, 8 good practices have been selected, in Burundi, Kenya, Mali, Rwanda, and Uganda. Download the flier.

    Gender and disability intersectionality in practice: Women and girls with disabilities addressing discrimination and violence in Africa (2018)

    The 2018 Making It Work report documents nine good practices across six African countries. The practices are carried out by organizations for persons with disabilities (DPOs) and women’s organizations, and are prime examples of concrete experience on how to address issues faced by women and girls with disabilities. Download the full report or the report overview in English or French.

    Women with disabilities, HIV and sexual violence: data tell us they are still left behind (2018)

    The studies presented in this flier are part of the West Africa regional "HIV & Disability" project in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Cape Verde, and Guinea Bissau. It intends to underline the existence of intersectional factors of vulnerability amongst Women with Disabilities with respect to HIV/AIDS and sexual violence in Burkina Faso and Guinea Bissau. Download the flier.


    Can't find what you're looking for? Let us know!

    Please feel free to contact:

    Michele Lunsford | m.lunsford@hi.org
    U.S. Senior Marketing & Communications Officer


  • Venezuela | Providing psychological support to migrants in Colombia

    Since 2013, Venezuela has been facing a severe economic, political, and social crisis. Access to health care, sanitation, and food is scarce and humanitarian needs are massive. More than 3 million Venezuelans have fled the country and are taking refuge in other Latin America countries and the Caribbean. Among them, more than a million people are in Colombia.

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    Psychological support in Maicao

    Humanity & Inclusion is providing psychological support activities for migrants in the transit center of Maicao, on the Venezuelan border.

    Basic services & social interaction in Medellín

    In Medellín, Colombia's second largest city, our team is providing psychological support to more than 1,000 Venezuelan people. In collaboration with the Medellín City Council, we're ensuring that people have access to basic services such as health care. We are also organizing sports and other cultural activities to help strengthen social cohesion and socio-cultural integration of migrants in Medellín.

    Rehabilitation care in La Guajira

    In November 2018, Humanity & Inclusion assessed the needs of migrants in La Guajira, an entry point in northern Colombia, in collaboration with the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).

    In collaboration with DRC and Pastoral Social (Caritas Colombia), Humanity & Inclusion plans to provide rehabilitation care for the most vulnerable—people with disabilities, older people, etc.—technical support (training, etc.) to local rehabilitation organizations, and organize social cohesion activities between Colombians and Venezuelans to promote a peaceful understanding between the different communities. 

    Humanity & Inclusion in Colombia

    Working in Colombia since 1998, Humanity & Inclusion promotes the full participation in Colombian society of people with disabilities, including victims of internal armed conflict, and their families. We also ensure that disability issues are taken into account in public policies. Since 2016, Humanity & Inclusion has extended its field interventions to include the prevention of accidents caused by landmines, and the clearance, through demining of affected areas. Learn more about our work in Colombia.


  • HI workshop in Bangladesh | Protecting the most vulnerable when disasters strike

    When floods, storms, and droughts strike, people are forced to flee their homes, putting them in danger's path. For people with disabilities, the consequences can be deadly. It is crucial that local people and humanitarian agencies, like HI, are trained directly in case of a natural disaster. Being more prepared for such events would save lives.

    Humanity & Inclusion's teams are working to ensure that people with disabilities and vulnerable individuals are not forgotten when disasters strike through our Ready for Action (REACT) project. Launched in 2016, the goal of REACT is to enhance HI's capacity to respond to emergencies in a timely and effective manner.

    Last month, two staff members from Humanity & Inclusion's headquarters in Lyon traveled to Bangladesh, a country vulnerable to natural and man-made hazards, for an emergency preparedness workshop with our local team. Together, our staff created an emergency response plan, and a plan to reinforce their emergency operations and support preparedness capacities. Outcomes included the previously-mentioned action plan, mapping of resources, and lessons-learned, as well as technical measures in case of emergencies.

    Thanks to this vital collaboration, our team can share this life-saving knowledge with the local people, so they too can be ready for action!


    Bhabani Rout, 45, who wears a prosthetic leg, leads an early warning mock drill in India.

    Photo: Bhabani Rout, 45, who wears a prosthetic leg, leads an early warning mock drill in India.

    Preparing for an emergency 

    Emergency preparedness is a long-term process that requires dedicated time and resources, but it can also help improve the relevance and reach of Humanity & Inclusion's operations. Outcomes include:

    1. Strengthened hazard monitoring and early warning capacities and processes in the field and at HQ
    2. Increased capacity to assess emergency needs
    3. Strengthened capacity to implement emergency response activities 
    4. Strengthened supply chain, including contingency stock measures
    5. Integration of emergency preparedness and response into strategic programming
    6. Strengthened external coordination with INGOs, UN agencies and donors and strategic positioning
    7. Increased ability to anticipate emergency funding needs and to access emergency funds

    How does the Ready for Action (REACT) project work?

    The Emergency Division supports programs in the project implementation. Services include:

    • Capacity building on emergency response through capacity diagnoses and simulation exercises
    • Facilitation of workshops to launch the preparedness process and help teams develop an EPR Plan
    • Operational support to HQ and field teams in the response to emergencies and EPR plan follow-up

    The projects targets HQ and field teams, with a focus on contexts that are most vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters. It also targets local partners, particularly in contexts where Humanity & Inclusion may respond to emergencies by working through local NGOs. The process involves all departments, including management, programming, technical, logistics, finance, HR and security teams, both at HQ and field levels.


  • Report | Seeing the invisible: Sexuality-related knowledge, attitudes and behavior of children and youth with disabilities in China

    Download the report

    Young people with disabilities have the same right to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) as their peers without disabilities, but their needs and rights are often overlooked. The findings of this study, which was initiated by UNESCO and Humanity & Inclusion, aims to provide evidence to support decision-making by government agencies, educators, development workers and other relevant stakeholders regarding developing and implementing disability-inclusive SRH and sexuality education policies and program for young people in China.


  • Report | Seeing the invisible: Sexuality-related knowledge, attitudes and behavior of children and youth with disabilities in China

    Download the report

    Young people with disabilities have the same right to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) as their peers without disabilities, but their needs and rights are often overlooked. The findings of this study, which was initiated by UNESCO and Humanity & Inclusion, aims to provide evidence to support decision-making by government agencies, educators, development workers and other relevant stakeholders regarding developing and implementing disability-inclusive SRH and sexuality education policies and program for young people in China.

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  • United Nations | Statement on Universal Health Coverage

    On Monday April 29, Dr. Alessandra Aresu, Inclusive Health Policy Lead for Humanity & Inclusion (Formerly Handicap International), and co-chair of the Inclusive Health Task Group of the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), was set to deliver the following statement to the high-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage at the United Nations, but was not able to after the meeting ran over its allotted time. The IDDC statement follows.

    On behalf of the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), a consortium of 40 members active in 100 countries and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, including the right to health.  

    There are approximately one billion persons with disabilities globally, with numbers rising due to aging populations and increases in chronic and mental health conditions.

    Ensuring access to health for persons with disabilities is essential to achieve SDG3.

    The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 25 requires that State Parties take all appropriate measures to ensure persons with disabilities access disability and gender-sensitive health services, including rehabilitation and provide free or affordable health services covering the same range and quality as those provided to others.

    In reality, persons with disabilities often encounter physical, communication, attitudinal and financial barriers, as well as lack of information in accessing health services. According to WHO’s estimations,  50% of persons with disabilities globally cannot afford access to healthcare and are three times more likely to be denied health care.

    As countries work towards achieving the Universal Health Coverage, the lack of gender, age and disability disaggregated data is a major challenge for monitoring the equity gaps in health status and access to services.

    The International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) recommends:

    1) To improve the availability and use of gender, age and disability disaggregated data on health status and access to services;

    2) To promote data dissemination to ensure appropriate planning and policies for equitable access to health.

    3) To adapt and provide health services for persons with disabilities ensuring accessible and affordable services and, most importantly, meaningful participation of persons with disabilities.

     

    Photo: Dr. Alessandra Aresu stands next to a Universal Health Coverage sign at UN HLM 2019 in NYC on April 29, 2019.


  • published Nepal | Four years after the quake in News 2019-04-24 16:15:05 -0400

    Nepal | Four years after the quake

    On April 25, 2015, the earth shook in Nepal, killing more than 8,000 people and injuring 22,000. Already present in the field, Humanity & Inclusion launched an immediate response in aid of those affected, providing assistance to more than 19,000 people.

    "Following the earthquake, HI helped many victims with fractures or musculoskeletal pain and longer-term injuries such as amputations and spinal cord injuries,” explains Willy Bergogne, Humanity & Inclusion’s director in Nepal. “We formed new partnerships with government authorities to ensure access to rehabilitation care for people living in remote and hard-to-reach districts.

    "Four years on and conditions are more stable for many patients, but we continue to provide rehabilitation care to those in need." 

    Your impact

    Since April 2015, our team has run more than 42,000 rehabilitation and psychological support sessions for more than 19,000 people and supplied 7,000 prostheses and orthotic devices to people with injuries. HI has also distributed more than 4,300 kits containing tents and cooking supplies to more than 2,200 families.

    Transporting aid to remote villages

    Humanity & Inclusion’s logistics team organized the storage and transport of more than 5,400 tons of humanitarian equipment to remote villages. In the Winter of 2015, our teams handed out warm clothes and blankets to more than 9,000 people.

    Supporting the most vulnerable

    More than 1,500 earthquake-affected households have been given financial support to set up new business activities such as goat breeding and small stores. Our organization also enabled the most vulnerable people to access additional humanitarian services, such as education and healthcare supplied by other organizations.

    In addition, our teams raised the awareness of more than 3,000 people to ensure the most vulnerable individuals are taken account in natural disaster risk management. We want to ensure that no one is forgotten. 

    Lasting support

    Humanity & Inclusion has a team of 80 people in Nepal. We support seven rehabilitation centers in the country, help earthquake casualties earn a living, and makes sure children with disabilities have access to school. Currently, HI is assisting victims of the recent March 2019 tornado.

    Learn more about the work we do in Nepal.

     

    Photo: Sudan Rimal, a physical therapist with HI, spends the day at a park in Nepal with earthquake survivors Nirmala and Khendo.


  • published Drones in Explosive Weapons 2019-04-23 10:50:06 -0400

    Drones

    In places like Chad, Laos, and Colombia, mines and explosive remnants of war pose a daily threat to civilians. In fact, in 61 countries around the world, explosive ordnance post a real obstacle to development. Humanity & Inclusion, in conjunction with new technology companies, are testing drones to detect landmines and build a detailed picture of what’s on the ground—a revolution in mine clearance.

    Drones, which can map suspected hazardous areas remotely have the potential to revolutionize landmine clearance operations. If successful, drones would help target mine clearance areas more precisely and reduce the length of time it takes for teams to return contaminated land to civilians.

    "Drones can hopefully provide considerable assistance in demining by reducing tenfold the time it takes to implement non-technical surveys, a phase that consists in identifying and demarcating potentially hazardous areas requiring the intervention of demining teams,” explains Emmanuel Sauvage, Head of Armed Violence Reduction at Humanity & Inclusion. “This phase is sometimes longer than the mine clearance operations themselves. By providing accurate data for mapping areas to be cleared, the drones will also help us to deploy our mine-clearance teams in a more targeted way.”

    Clearing land and keeping people safe from weapons is at the core of our DNA. Innovation such as this is vital in order to meet the vast needs of mine clearance operations. In Chad alone, 39 square miles of land are contaminated by mines and explosive remnants of war. Humanity & Inclusion and its partners plan to clear 1.1 square miles over four years, relying on several mine clearance teams and a mine clearance machine.


    Equipped with a camera, the drone gives a detailed picture of what’s on the ground, along with a set of data such as GPS coordinates. During the initial tests, the drone took a photo of the terrain every two meters. When assembled, the photos provide a highly detailed map.

    A detailed picture from a demining drone that shows what's on the ground, along with a set of data such as GPS coordinates.

    What is the optimal height for a drone? What type of drones should we use? What data is most useful to mine clearance experts? These are the sorts of questions we are asking in order to make the best use of this technology.”

    More images from our demining work in Chad


    Our drone operator prepares to send the drone over the desert landscape to see what's ahead

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    Anti-tank mines found by the team

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    Explosive devices buried in a hole before HI's demining team produced a controlled explosion

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    A controlled explosion of the weapons the team found

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  • Nepal | Tornado victims receive emergency rehabilitation care

    On March 31, a violent tornado struck the Bara and Parsa districts in southern Nepal, killing nearly 30 people and injuring more than 600 others. Officials estimate that more than 1,500 households were affected.

    To support the victims of the storm, Humanity & Inclusion is distributing mobility devices–crutches, wheelchairs, and walkers–and providing rehabilitation care to those injured. These activities are in collaboration with our partner rehabilitation center, the National Disabled Fund and Nepal Physiotherapy Association (NEPTA).

    "Our priority is to provide appropriate rehabilitation care to the injured in order to prevent them from developing a long-term disability and to enable them to regain their quality of life," explains Willy Bergogne, Humanity & Inclusion’s director in Nepal.

    Humanity & Inclusion in Nepal

    Humanity & Inclusion has been present in Nepal since 2000. Our team took immediate action to help victims of the earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25, 2015. We continue to deliver rehabilitation sessions and provide walking aids in the seven districts. In addition, our programs have diversified with additional focus on health and access to services such as inclusive livelihoods, inclusive education and community based disaster risk management. Learn more about the work we do in Nepal.


  • Mozambique | Bolstering support in Beira’s poverty-stricken communities

    Shortly after the cyclone struck Mozambique, Humanity & Inclusion’s Claude Briade visited some of the poorest areas of Beira. He describes the poverty-stricken communities: “Ramshackle housing, no regulation, poor hygiene, inadequate health infrastructure. In ‘normal’ times, life is extremely hard in these tangled alleys. What managed to emerge despite this poverty has been completely destroyed by Cyclone Idai.”

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    For Lucia, a 38 year old single mother of five, the impact of the storm was devastating. In the photo above, she sits in front of what remains of her families’ home a few days after the cyclone. Lucia managed to salvage some possessions from the debris–clothes, a tarp, and bucket–but now faces the challenge of keeping the children dry in a home with no roof and protecting them from disease like cholera. 

    Cholera epidemic

    Cholera has since taken hold in districts like Lucia’s, with almost 5,000 confirmed cases. That’s why, Humanity & Inclusion will distribute hygiene kits, which include basic items such as hand and laundry soaps, to 8,000 families.

    Supporting the most vulnerable

    “Humanity & Inclusion has pledged to help the most vulnerable victims of the cyclone: people with disabilities, orphaned and chronically ill children and isolated seniors–many of which can be found in Beira’s forgotten poor communities.”

    Improving access to aid

    Emergency logistics colleagues are reinforcing capacity and working to open access points to rural areas shut off from humanitarian aid. Our team provided trucks and materials to clear 10 of Beira’s impoverished communities. Local residents are also employed to collect debris and clean the streets.

    In addition, HI will also distribute 2,500 shelter and repair kits in these districts to help people rebuild their destroyed homes.

    Humanity & Inclusion in Mozambique

    Humanity & Inclusion has been working in Mozambique since 1986, and is best known there for our work helping victims of landmines and other explosive ordnance left from the country’s civil war. We ran a large demining operation that wrapped up when the country declared itself mine free in 2015. Most recently, staff worked to promote the rights and social participation of people with disabilities, support civil society to improve the social inclusion of people with disabilities, and prevent the development of disabilities. 

    Learn more about our work in Mozambique.

     

    Photo: Lucia in front of the remains of her home, destroyed by Cyclone Idai.


  • Yemen | "I want to be a doctor and help people with disabilities"

    Fleeing bombs in Sana'a

    When he woke up in the hospital and realized his leg had been amputated, five-year-old Anwar began screaming. No one could calm his tears. He was inconsolable. Anwar could not understand why his leg disappeared and continued asking relatives if he could have it back.

    While fleeing the bombings alongside his family and neighbors in Sana’a, Anwar’s leg was hit by a shard of metal. Hours later, it was amputated.

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    The trauma of amputation

    After being discharged from the hospital, Anwar continued to have significant pain and confusion. He eventually returned to school, but cut himself off from classmates and refused to take part in activities.

    The hospital staff provided him with a prosthesis, but it was too heavy, forcing him to use crutches, which considerably reduced his mobility.

    Rehabilitation care gives new hope

    When Humanity & Inclusion’s rehabilitation team in Yemen met Anwar a few months ago, the young boy, who is now nine-year-old, was scared and withdrawn. Aiman Al Mutawaki, a physical therapist with HI, provides special care to Anwar. He receives physical therapy and is being fit with a new prosthesis, which will be properly adapted to his size. This has given Anwar new hope.

    Anwar is particularly enthusiastic. In addition to physical therapy, he also receives psychological support from HI’s team. Therapy calms his anxiety. He also feels better knowing he is not alone–other people have also had amputations like him.

    Today, Anwar is more outgoing and plays with other children his age. At school, he draws, plays soccer with his friends, and studies hard. "I want to be a doctor,” he says. “I want to help people with disabilities and support my family.”

    Humanity & Inclusion and the Yemen crisis

    Humanity & Inclusion (which operates under the name Handicap International in Yemen) operated in the country from the early 2000s up to 2012, focusing on physical rehabilitation. Since returning in 2014, our mission has grown. Today, we provide direct services to individuals affected by the ongoing conflict, particularly people with disabilities, through rehabilitation care and psychosocial support at eight public health facilities in and around Sana’a city. Learn more about our work and the Yemen crisis.


  • Sri Lanka | Growing employment opportunities for people with disabilities

    For farmers living in small villages in Sri Lanka, income from milk sales alone isn't always enough to get by. Add a cow to milk, peanuts to grow, and a local store to run and it may seem impossible.

    For people with disabilities and vulnerable individuals, the challenge is greater. People with disabilities are struggle to find decent work due to discrimination. Humanity & Inclusion’s team is working hard to change this.  

    In collaboration with a local partner, Humanity & Inclusion’s team in Sri Lanka runs an economic inclusion project that aims to ensure that everyone benefits from economic growth. We promote the inclusion of vulnerable individuals in economic activities and coordinate training sessions for employers who are encouraged to take into account the most vulnerable individuals when hiring.

    As a result, nearly one hundred women have been hired by companies including Brandix, the country’s largest exporter of apparel. We educated 30 civil society organizations on the struggles faced by people with disabilities and showed them how they can support the growth of employment opportunities for these individuals.

    Building on this project, which is funded by the European Union, Humanity & Inclusion produced a publication on the inclusive local economy, including best practices, and recommendations for local authorities and NGOs. For more information, read the development toolkit

    Humanity & Inclusion in Sri Lanka

    Since 2004, Humanity & Inclusion has been providing assistance to victims of armed conflict, promoting social inclusion, and developing partnerships at all levels to implement and support national disability policies in the country. Learn more about our work in Sri Lanka.