Michele Lunsford

  • COVID-19 in Pakistan | Vulnerable family of 5 relies on humanitarian assistance

    The most vulnerable individuals, including people with disabilities, are bearing the brunt of the lockdown imposed in response to COVID-19. It has left many without food or money. Humanity & Inclusion is helping the most vulnerable individuals, including Saima and her family, survive the crisis.

    Saima has used a wheelchair since childhood. When she was only one-year-old, she contracted polio, causing her to become paralyzed. Today, she lives with her family in an impoverished area in Karachi, Pakistan. The lockdown has made their daily lives almost impossible to bear.

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    Reliant on humanitarian assistance

    Saima husband’s is a day laborer. Since being forced to stop working a month ago, the family of five found themselves without enough to eat. Finding food is now an ordeal. Saima and her husband have to travel two hours from their home to a food distribution point in order to find enough to eat. They depend entirely on humanitarian assistance.

    Health services have become inaccessible

    A few months ago, when her son fell seriously ill, Saima was unable to take him to hospital for treatment. She had no other choice than to keep her child at home until he recovered, without medical assistance.

    “I should have gone to hospital, but it is quite far in a wheelchair and I didn’t want to risk catching the virus,” she explains. “I have to use my hands to push myself in my wheelchair. So instead, I stayed at home with my son until his fever broke.”

    Learning a new skill

    Before Pakistan was hit by the epidemic, Saima was being trained by Humanity & Inclusion in embroidery and sewing. “Like most people with disabilities in Pakistan, Saima was completely excluded from the school system and job market,” says Sumaira Bibi, Humanity & Inclusion’s project monitoring manager in Pakistan. “Once trained, she will be able to make a substantial contribution to the family’s income.”  

    With their combined income, the couple would have been able to send their children to the nearby school. Like the rest of us, Saima looks forward to the COVID-19 crisis ending. She told our team that she hopes the suffering fo the poorest in society, including people with disabilities, comes to an end. In the meantime, Humanity & Inclusion team is there for Saima and her family. We’re working harder than ever to ensure family’s like Saima’s have the care and support they need to get through this crisis.

    Humanity & Inclusion works to protect the most vulnerable 

    As of May 11, we count 161 new projects that aim to protect our beneficiaries and staff from the virus, and to help them during their countries' lock downs. As COVID-19 takes aim at our planet's most vulnerable neighbors, we're ensuring that people with disabilities, people with injuries from conflict, children, women, and especially older people have the information--and even the soap--to stay healthy. Learn more about our COVID-19 response.

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  • Thank you!

    Thank you for supporting the most vulnerable individuals during this global health crisis. Your generosity and commitment makes our mission possible. We hope you’ll continue to learn more about Humanity & Inclusion's work by visiting us here and on social media (see links in footer!).

    Here's a special message of thanks from some of our colleagues in Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

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  • Inclusive DRR, Inclusive Humanitarian Action and Protection Against Violence Recommendations on COVID response

    Download a PDF of the Inclusive DRR, Inclusive Humanitarian Action and Protection Against Violence Recommendations on COVID response.

    Situation overview

    The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is impacting populations all over the world. Today 185 Countries, areas or territories have confirmed contamination (21st March 2020), some are countries already in crisis due to conflicts, natural disasters and climate change. The impact on fragile contexts and conflict settings and wider humanitarian systems will be complex[1].  The global community is planning to prepare and respond to this public health emergency by focusing on public health messaging, health coordination, water, hygiene and sanitation and protection interventions.

    During public health emergencies some individuals, households and communities face increased risks and consequences due to the higher exposure and barriers they face in accessing critical information, protection and other essential services. Persons with disabilities are known to be at increased risk in the COVID-19 pandemic as they face higher exposure rates[2], due to the need for close contact with personal assistants/care givers, increased risk of infection and complications due to underlying health conditions and socio-economic inequalities, including poor access to health care[3]. Older persons are at an increased risk of multiple rights violations in the pandemic[4] such as discrimination based on age and must be supported to access services on an equal basis with others. Women and girls with and without disabilities are also likely to face higher risks of exposure[5], increased risks of GBV and domestic violence due to confinement, increased burden of care work (family/child care, care for children out of school and/or sick household members and increased household duties), and disruption of protection mechanisms and crucial services (safe houses, family planning, child and maternal health, sexual and reproductive health care, legal assistance and counseling services). Children with and without disabilities and their caregivers need to adapt to closure of schools [6], and other structures (institutions, day care), impacting continuity of learning, protective environment and access to basic requirements (e.g. feeding program, social support, personal assistance, rehabilitation...). This will likely impact physical and psychological wellbeing, as well increased child protection risks including domestic violence, child labor, and adolescent pregnancies. Migrants and displaced persons with and without disabilities, especially those on the move, those with no legal status, those living in informal settings or camps and in confinement face increased risk of exposure, due to the absence of contingency planning, poor living conditions, proximity of living spaces, lack of access to publicly available preventative materials, information and services.  Additional institutional barriers further hamper access to governmental service provision.

    Those risks are often intersecting with other pre-existing inequalities and further increased by gaps in preparedness and response plans. These gaps are variable and context specific and can include:

    • Risk and needs analysis are not inclusive, considering the specific risks of exclusion and violation of rights of persons with disabilities and other groups such as women and girls, persons with HIV, migrants, or people on the move etc.
    • Epidemic surveillance mechanisms, contingency, preparedness and response plans are not inclusive and accessible. For example, protocols on preparing and protecting persons with disabilities and/ or their caregiver and families while being hospitalized, in isolation, quarantine or imposed due to physical distancing are lacking.
    • Physical distancing, collapse of social support systems and/or separation of caregivers imposes disruption of continuity of care (medical, social and rehabilitation care...) which increases protection risks and exclusion from access to health services.
    • Communication and messages are not inclusive and accessible to all and are not sufficiently diverse (child-friendly, gender and disability sensitive). Adults and children with disabilities and older persons might have limited access to communication modalities used (mass media, social media) or not receive info if confined (institutions, prisons, orphanages, retirement homes etc.) or living remotely.
    • Assistance might not reach all locations (rural or remote locations, institutions, prisons, orphanages, retirement homes etc.), while closure or disruption of centers and services causes protection concerns and disruption of care impacting physical, psychological wellbeing.
    • Increased discrimination, misperceptions, stigma by community, service providers and systems against persons with disabilities and other groups are further heightened in a pandemic situation (persons with disabilities perceived as more contagious) placing them at higher risk of isolation, physical, verbal violence, denial of access, discriminatory access. Persons with disabilities are also at risk of being deprioritized or denied access to treatment for corona virus based on the assumption that their chances of survival are less compared to those without disabilities.
    • Physical inaccessibility of health services, transportation systems, WASH infrastructure and services (water tabs or distribution points, latrines, sinks, hygiene messages) increases risk of propagation.
    • Lack of protection and social support mechanisms for persons with disabilities and their families, leads to socio-economic vulnerability, reduced autonomy, reduced physical and psychological wellbeing (distress, anxiety, negative thoughts etc.), lack of access to basic and specific requirements (e.g. specific hygiene materials, dietary requirements, distribution of food, essential medicines, etc.), increased risk of violence, child protection issues, etc.
    • Lack of accessible consultation and meaningful participation: Informed consent to health care and other services may not be obtained from all persons with disabilities, especially if various reasonable accommodation is not available. Persons with disabilities also face unequal participation in decision making, including for decisions related to their care.
    • Life-saving services such as CMR (Clinical Management of Rape), PSS support for survivors, SRH (sexual and reproductive health services) services for women and girls, safe spaces (child-friendly spaces, safe houses and women centers) can be considered as non-essential by governments as resources are reallocated to respond to COVID 19

    HI Key Actions and Recommendations:

    HI’s operational strategy for the COVID-19 response is to protect most at risk communities, including adults and children with disabilities and other groups at risks, by promoting and implementing inclusive and safe preparedness and response measures. The following actions are recommended and should be adapted on basis of the context, needs, and available resources, protective measurement for HI and partners and capacities of each program.  

    Activity 1: Ensure accessible, diverse and appropriate messaging and community awareness

    • Ensure women, men, boys and girls with different types of disabilities and other groups at risk of exclusion (or discrimination) have access to inclusive messaging/risk communication and community awareness about prevention and protection measures, infection mitigating tips, public restriction plans, public health messages, contingency planning and services offered.
    • Ensure that information and messages are provided in a diversity of accessible formats including braille, easy-read format, sign language, and high contrast print with use of accessible technologies where possible. Information and messages should also be available through numerous accessible channels (mass media, social and traditional media, key community focal points, etc.).  
    • Ensure messaging/risk communication is available in local languages and language spoken by displaced populations and are disability, gender and age sensitive. Messaging should challenge gender, age, and disability stereotypes, be respectful and free of bias (For example, challenge association of COVID-19 transmission with persons with disabilities, persons living on street or older persons)
    • Work with HI teams, partners and other experts with relevant expertise on accessibility and diversity of messages (e.g. OPDs can support printing braille versions, producing sign language videos or Easy-To-Read formats, child-friendly messages, sub-scripts and captioning for video/infographics, accessibility requirements for information platforms and digital messages, Women’s right organization can help to avoid gender stereotypes and support gender sensitive messages. They can also support in identifying and addressing barriers in accessing information and communication.
    • Strengthen epidemic risks management through DRM networks and community engagement initiatives and set-up community feedback systems to monitor information gaps and reactions on messaging particularly to prevent and cope with misperceptions, rumors, anxiety, distress, negative coping mechanisms, discrimination of certain groups due to misperceptions). Work with those networks and initiatives to strengthen referral and surveillance mechanisms. This to  contribute to the local and provincial early warning systems (if any) led by health and/or DRM authorities; to feed their information systems, the surroundings communities and possibly triggering health interventions.
    • Disseminate information to partners (OPDs, older person’s organizations, disability networks, women’s rights organizations etc.) and groups at risks of discrimination, in isolation, including in locations of intervention that might not be reached through traditional messaging like institutions, retirement homes, orphanages, prisons
    • Ensure staff involved in the dissemination of health messaging are trained on inclusive and safe communication; Ensure staff involved in the development of materials for health and other service-related messaging are trained in accessible and child friendly IEC materials to enable adaption.

    Activity 2: Identification, social support and referral of at-risk households and individuals

    • Review orientation and referral mechanisms (mapping of services, actors, 3WW, 4WW, referral protocols, referral coordination mechanisms at national, sub-national and community levels and ensure updated information is available to all relevant stakeholders, including those at community level (HI and partners community-led referrals); include COVID call centers or information platforms; health and protection pathways, including GBV and Child Protection, COVID reference centers; helplines for protection or psychosocial concerns, social support systems for at risk individuals, etc.
    • Review and adapt identification of groups at risk of discrimination and exclusion, prioritization criteria, modalities and SOPs to be inclusive: ensure collection of disability, age and gender disaggregated data, adapt / update vulnerability analyses/ priority ranking specific to COVID-19 through partners (DRM networks, community led-initiatives, HI and partner protection teams, OPDs with relevant expertise); adapt modalities and support mechanisms (e.g. CASH transfers for emergency health/protection referrals and continuity of care and protection of staff). Factors to consider in vulnerability criteria could include: access to protective measures, coping and mitigation strategies (prevention and response mechanisms, self-sufficiency to prepare for quick confinement), access to critical food, medication, health concerns, etc.
    • Support and continue community-led contingency and response planning and referrals, including identification, referral of at-risk households and individuals (based on revised prioritization criteria) through existing referral mechanisms in line with local authority’s guidance and HI/ partners SOPs. For example by supporting carrying out village/district contingency planning to support identification of households at risk/ referral of suspected cases/ community communication in safe and inclusive manner without creating panic/ use of protective gear/ setting-up quarantine, isolation and protective measurements/ setting-up support systems of persons who need support in daily life/ mitigate reduced information flow; where HI teams have already experienced mass casualties management (MCM) and 'safe hospitals' projects: support to health units in reinforcing and making inclusive their Mass Casualties Management systems
    • Strengthen individuals, household and community contingency plans before hospitalization, isolation, quarantine, looking at continuity of care, preparation of essential medicines, food stock, social support mechanisms (e.g. language interpreters, personal assistants/ caregivers, etc.), protective materials, sufficient hygiene materials (water and soap). Prepare for additional measures in case of physical distancing will be required. Promote HH contingency plans and business continuity planning alongside the most at-risk groups and individuals to better prepare their main activity and livelihoods for a coming shock and a potential quarantine / For Survivors or at-risk people, support development of individual safety plan
    • Support households at risk due to family members, assistants, caregivers in hospitalization and/or isolation and quarantine, leading to loss of income, by identifying and providing protection and social support services based on in-country guidelines and HI standards (CASH/ vouchers/referral/assistance)

    Activity 3: Understand and monitor specific risks and needs of persons with disabilities, their caregivers, families and other groups at-risk and promote inclusive and safe response by sharing of learnings, providing technical advisory, sensitization and capacity building together with partners

    • Support multi-agency assessments, preparedness and response plans/ vulnerability analysis/ targeting and prioritization criteria and standard operational procedure to be inclusive. Promote inclusive programming, MEAL and disaggregation of data by disability, gender, age and other relevant criteria.
    • Promote Disability, Gender and Age analysis with an intersectional lens and be aware of how intersecting factors can increase risk of violence and abuse and/or limit access to care and protection.
    • Share and promote the use of data on factors of risk and discrimination, such as in-country data on disability, gender and age specific access/participation/protection issues, findings from barriers and facilitators assessments, and share learnings on inclusion from similar situations. Adapt global advocacy messages on protection of rights of groups at risk (persons with disabilities, older persons, women and girls, migrants and refugees)
    • Support meaningful participation of men, women, boys and girls with and without disabilities, OPDs and other CSOs (with relevant expertise at all levels) to be engaged in decision-making throughout the stages and activities of the response and coordination. Including design/revision of guidance; awareness rising and advocacy/ translation and review of materials in local and accessible language and formats etc.
    • Monitor and address gaps in the response, as well as stigma, misperception and protection risks on basis of disability, gender, age or other factors, using global and in-country data (e.g. Need of continuity of care; denial of access to health services and intensive care; protection of those living in institutions, residential schools; provision of reasonable accommodation; long-term funding to reduce impact of COVID). Adapt awareness rising and advocacy messages, IEC materials and mechanisms accordingly.
    • Develop and disseminate key messages and conduct awareness raising session on inclusive and safe COVID-19 response, including on the rights of men, women, boys and girls with disabilities and other groups at-risk to COVID response and decision-making together with relevant stakeholders (iDRR, DRM networks, OPDs, older persons and women’s associations) and through relevant channels (mass communication, social media, radio, traditional channels, cluster meetings, working groups). Support community-led awareness raising to address identified risks, access barriers to information and protective measures and to reduce stigma against persons with disabilities and other groups, including people experiencing respiratory symptoms, people who have completed the quarantine etc.)
    • Adapt inclusive health, protection, and WASH projects/interventions to respond to gaps and promote inclusive and safe COVID-19 response (see below)
    • Provide reasonable accommodation and modified modalities (additional amounts of protective gear, water and soap; hygiene products for women and girls assistance for social support; transportation costs; home-based interventions to ensure continuity of care)

    Activity 4: Ensure HI interventions (health, including rehab and MHPSS, WASH, education, protection) are safe and inclusive (considering disability, age, gender and other factors of concern)

    • Collaborate with inclusion and protection focal points and partners to ensure HI intervention are inclusive and safe: adapt and contextualize SOPs, tools and messages
    • Provide sensitization to HI staff and partners engaged in COVID-19 response: non-discrimination, inclusion, protection (identification of persons with disabilities, needs, risk and barriers, how to accommodate their needs, inclusive communication and messaging, safe programming)
    • Train first responders (HI staff and partners) on how to handle disclosures of GBV/CP cases. Staff who are part of an outbreak response must have basic skills to respond to disclosures of GBV/CP that could be associated with or exacerbated by the epidemic, in a compassionate and non-judgmental manner and know to whom   refer to for further care, protection and  treatment, and how to provide care on the spot.
    • Promote accessible, disability, age, gender sensitive health, hygiene and protection messages using the global messaging and accessible channels, technologies and formats of messaging, including sign language and easy to read.
    • Use learnings on inclusive and safe programming, HI and partners data on risks, barriers and facilitators on basis of disability, gender, and age to adapt HI interventions
    • Monitor inclusive and safe programming towards communities by disaggregation of data by disability, gender and age, and through monitoring of protection risks and barriers of access and participation

    Recommendations for the response aftermath

    • Advocate to allocate resources to vital structures for persons with disabilities, and other groups at risk including social support systems, safety nets, rehabilitation care and psychosocial support
    • Monitor community risks and conduct community awareness rising to reduce stigma, misperceptions, and social breakdown, toward persons who are contaminated and those at risk of stigma, such as persons with disabilities Support analyses and use of health and protection data  that has been disaggregated, and other qualitative data to identify and address protection risks, factors of discrimination, issues of unequal access/participation towards certain communities, groups (migrants, persons in institutions, persons with disabilities, women and girls)of groups at risk to advocate for inclusive health emergencies

    Other resources  

    • HI Operational Framework COVID 19
    • List of Resources
    • Ongoing and planned actions HI IHA
    • Practical tools per activity (under construction)

    Section below still under revision (27/03/20)

    HI WASH / SHELTER / NFI response

    • Provide instructions to staff and partners on how to protect themselves, including how to accommodate needs of persons using assistive devices or who need support in daily life. Ensure protective materials (masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, etc.) are provided to partners as well. (DPOs, DRM networks etc.)
    • Conduct age, gender and disability sensitive hygiene promotion sessions to at all members in at risk communities. Mobilize male and female promotors; sensitize them on inclusive communication and provide messages in accessible formats. Collaborate with experts to adapt  hygiene kits and messages for those with specific requirements and set-up alternative modalities for distributions (e.g. door-to door, proxy distribution)
    • Identify communities, families that might be isolated and reach out (institutions, prisons, orphanages, retirement homes etc.)
    • Collaborate with health, WASH cluster and relevant government to ensure hygiene awareness messages and hygiene kits are safe to access and responding to need of men, women, boys and girls with disabilities. Mobilize relevant expertise to make accessible hygiene promotion messages and provide inclusive WASH, communication and outreach sensitization. Sensitize procurement partners/ those on markets and distributors on non-discrimination to reduce stigma and misperceptions towards certain groups and ensure access of all
    • Installation of accessible hand/washing stations, easy and safe to access and use for all in strategic locations (office, public spaces, entrances of buildings, kitchen, sanitation blocks). Adapt models and provide home-based solutions  m for those who have difficulty reaching public areas (e.g. water and soap / hand sanitizer options in the household)  
    • Support community, family and individual contingency planning for households at risk, including persons with disabilities and / or their families / caregivers to access water, hygiene facilities/ prepare for physical distancing, social disruption/ quarantine/ hospitalization
    • Shelter: identify living conditions of vulnerable households and communities in areas of intervention, monitor and respond to safety, physical, psychological wellbeing and autonomy of persons with disabilities, injuries, older persons. Consider accessibility and protective measurements when providing shelter kits for persons with functional limitations and other groups at risk
    • Non-food Items; Distribute NFI to vulnerable households, in collaboration with OPDs and other CSO
    • Coordinate with WASH, Shelter, Health Cluster, and working groups, by reviewing strategies, messaging, and items; provide learnings, data on barriers and risks and materials to promote inclusive preparedness and response plans.


    • Where feasible ensure that additional protective measures for people with significant difficulties in moving around are available, including for self-care, as they may be more exposed to the virus due to dependence on physical proximity to others and therefore have less control over measures to prevent exposure, while they are also more likely to have underlying health conditions.
    • Work with HI partners and staff to strengthen identification of health needs of persons with disabilities and other groups at-risk (including critical sexual and reproductive health, maternal and child health, medical GBV services) including identifying and addressing barriers to access health services and referral pathways (mobilize support networks, assistance, cover transportation costs, reasonable accommodation for consultation)
    • Design emergency health units and related transportation systems accessible and safe to all
    • Sensitize relevant health workforce on inclusive health how to accommodate needs of persons with disabilities, including how to ensure their autonomy and protection
    • Monitor discriminatory practices in health facilities and ensure right-based prioritization criteria for health assistance, in particular critical consultations and intensive care.
    • Ensure continuity of health care by providing support to care-givers, parents and support networks on home-based activities for rehabilitation, psychosocial support, taking into consideration workload of households and recommendations of the government and WHO for physical distancing


    • Adapt IASC MHPSS guidelines for COVID to fit HI interventions and ensure contextualization and inclusiveness (adapt recreational activities, group counselling, distance methods)
    • Identify communities, families that might be isolated and reach out (institutions, prisons, orphanages, retirement homes etc.)Prioritize persons with disabilities, their families and care-givers and other vulnerable households who might be isolated, discriminated against and face difficulties to cope with changing situation and experience higher levels of distress and anxiety.
    • Provide accessible and adapted messages and support (how to deal with situation; hospitalization, isolation, quarantine, looking at continuity of care, preparation of essential medicines, food stock, social support mechanisms (e.g. language interpreters, personal assistants/ caregivers, etc.), protective materials, sufficient hygiene materials (water and soap). Prepare for additional measures in case of physical distancing will be required for persons with limited levels of autonomy
    • Psychosocial support: mobilize male and female psychosocial workers, sensitize them on inclusive communication and how to accommodate psychosocial support needs of men, women, boys and girls with disabilities or other groups with particular needs. Diversify communication channels (combine mailing/texting/call-in) for those with difficulties hearing/speaking/understanding, and those with limited access to technology, social messaging. Collaborate with structures with relevant expertise (OPDs) to make available sign language, captioning, accessible messages
    • Sensitize those working on hotlines on inclusive communication and accommodations and services for persons at risk, such as persons with disabilities, older persons, isolated individuals etc. share mapping of disability, gender and age inclusive service and support systems; disaggregate data by age, gender and disability to monitor and mitigate risk of certain groups
    • Adapt community-based psychosocial activities and psycho-education to ensure they are disability; age and gender sensitive (adapt messaging, recreational activities, recommendations for individuals and care-givers on physical and psychosocial wellbeing). Sensitize outreach workers on inclusive and safe communication and include disability awareness rising messages to reduce stigma and misperception against those with disabilities (e.g. intellectual or psychosocial disabilities). Reach out to those who might be isolated (see above) and conduct door-to door (considering protective measurements). Provide information on services and systems responding to particular needs and risk of groups at risk (support networks, contingency measurements).
    • Include recommendations on gender, age and disability inclusive COVID response in all capacity development initiatives to HI staff and partners. Mobilize staff with relevant expertise and partners to speak about impact of COVID on groups at risk (e.g. OPD)
    • Coordinate with health Cluster, and MHPSS working groups, by reviewing strategies, messaging, and items; provide learnings, data on barriers and risks and materials to promote inclusive preparedness and response plans. Mobilize partners with relevant expertise to meaningfully participate (e.g. OPD)
    • Add a component on basic support to GBV survivor and safe referral to PFA training.


    • Collaborate with gender/CP/GBV clusters, relevant government and partners to adapt protection messages, referral pathways, risk mitigation measures to ensure they are inclusive of women and girls with disabilities
    • Country strategic plans for preparedness and response must be grounded in strong gender analysis, taking into account gendered roles, responsibilities, and dynamics. This includes ensuring that containment and mitigation measures also address the burden of unpaid care work and heightened protection risks, particularly those that affect women and girls with and without disabilities.
    • Understanding which groups are at heightened risk of different forms of violence and abuse and understand how these may vary across settings.


    • See HI Inclusive Education in Emergency Guiding Note on COVID-19



    [1] UNOCHA, https://www.unocha.org/covid19

    [2] World Economic Forum (2020) Coronavirus: A pandemic in the age of inequality

    [3]  It has been identified that the impacts of COVID-19 are likely to be worse for people in lower socio-economic groups See, for example, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/coronavirus-pandemic-inequality-among-workers/ 

    [4] HelpAge (2020) Protecting older people in the coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic

    [5] Women are more likely to be front-line health workers with globally, 70% of them in health sectors or health facility service-staff (e.g. cleaners, laundry etc.)

    [6] https://en.unesco.org/themes/education-emergencies/coronavirus-school-closures


    Download a PDF of the Inclusive DRR, Inclusive Humanitarian Action and Protection Against Violence Recommendations on COVID response.

  • COVID-19 in South Sudan | Racing to protect the most vulnerable with only 24 ICU beds

    In South Sudan’s Juba County, Humanity & Inclusion has identified more than 5,200 people with disabilities as well as very frail people who need support as the coronavirus makes its presence known. Vulnerable among the vulnerable, most are already displaced from their homes, and face numerous barriers to staying safe from COVID-19. 

    Nearly 11 million people live in South Sudan, and statistical modeling suggests that the coronavirus is likely to reach more than half of the population. For a country with just 24 intensive care unit (ICU) beds and very limited medical equipment, slowing the spread of the virus is paramount, and Humanity & Inclusion teams have been fighting to do just that since March.

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    The presence of the coronavirus was detected late in this East-Central African country. The first COVID-19 case appeared in early April. Trend analysis from 45 African countries that reported cases as of March 24, suggests almost all countries will reach 1,000 cases by the end of May, and 10,000 cases a few weeks after that. We are on standby for a rapid increase in the number of new cases in South Sudan within 3-6 weeks from end of April. 

    Humanity & Inclusion has been accompanying vulnerable people with disabilities and internally displaced people in South Sudan since 2006. Fearing the worst, our 95-person team had anticipated the risks, and had already adapted their activities to prevent the spread of the virus. 

    Disastrous hygiene conditions

    “Our teams are making every effort to improve the country's emergency response to COVID-19 and to protect the most vulnerable,” explains Armogast Mwasi, South Sudan Program Director for Humanity & Inclusion. “From door-to-door outreach to the most vulnerable, to the coordination of working groups with the country's health authorities, HI is working at all levels. But the situation is complicated.

    “Health and hygiene conditions are disastrous. 56% of the South Sudan population are without access to primary health care services. And out of approximately 2,300 health facilities, more than 1,300 (57%) of facilities are non-functional and health facility surveillance gap is at 40%. Plus, more than half of the population lacks access to safe water and a mere 15% have access to latrines. Currently the country is home to 1.67 million displaced people and 279,880 spontaneous returnees are living in the country.

    “Even without the coronavirus, 6 million people are likely to experience crisis or emergency food security outcomes. Communities with high numbers of returnees and IDPs are particularly vulnerable, given that food sources and market supplies are already scarce. Closure of border crossings related to COVID-19 response have put pressure on already high food prices, exchange rate fluctuations, closure of businesses considered non-essential with key concerns on reduced income earning opportunities, further increasing their vulnerability. The result takes the form of negative coping strategies and disease outbreaks.

    “So, as you can imagine, the conditions here are definitively not in place to effectively combat the spread of the pandemic, but our teams are doing their best to protect our beneficiaries, the persons with disabilities and older people, among the most vulnerable to this virus. The virus exacerbates the ongoing humanitarian crisis around health infrastructure, economy, livelihoods and water, sanitation and poor hygiene.  

    “The challenge for Humanity & Inclusion is to maintain access in the midst of movement restrictions, xenophobic and violent attacks to meet the basic needs of vulnerable people so they do not become even more vulnerable. We must ensure their access to food, hygiene products and health services, as much as possible.”


    Humanity & Inclusion’s activities continue in the settlements of displaced people, but in addition HI now also contributes to prevention activities. Awareness raising and learning how to stop the spread of the virus is done with each beneficiary or target group, and the ways we do this are also adapted to protect each person from the virus. We have already conducted 389 house-to-house sessions, reaching 3,110 individuals.

    For that purpose, HI led active and systematic identification, evaluation and referral of persons with specific needs or extremely vulnerable Individuals. By late March, the project had identified more than 5,200 people in two UN protection of civilian sites in Juba. All of these individuals will learn to protect themselves and their friends and families from COVID-19. On April 1, we launched home-to-home community engagement awareness campaigns on COVID-19 preparedness, prevention and response in the protection of civilian sites.

    "Leave No One Behind" – One of our key messages:

    “People with disabilities are at high risk of getting sick during the COVID-19 pandemic because they may not receive information on how to protect themselves. They may be unaware of where and how to access the services and support they need. Share all information you receive with persons with disabilities and their caregivers, so they can also be informed!"

    Humanity & Inclusion has trained and identified 27 staff, as well as 69 community focal contacts, including older people, members of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs or DPOs), women and youth representatives, and religious leaders in two protection of civilian sites run by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

    So far, teams have conducted 12 awareness-raising sessions, each with only eight participants, according to social distancing measures. Participants learn to protect themselves and provide the people they assist with prevention information. They were taught about the COVID-19 outbreak, the ways the virus spreads, signs and symptoms, and precautionary measures such as the use of face masks, avoiding handshakes, social distancing, and frequent hand washing. They also learned how to spread positive messages, regarding the protection of the people with disabilities, and how people with disabilities and their caregivers should be provided equal access to healthcare and supportive services.

    Reaching as many people as possible

    In order to effectively raise awareness of COVID-19, and to reach the greatest number of people with stay-healthy messages, the team has involved media, and has sponsored one radio talk show reaching approximately 280,000.

    With the support and input from organizations of persons with disabilities, we have adapted the national task force’s COVID-19 awareness materials. Two posters and a radio script will be used for wide circulation throughout South Sudan.

    Simultaneously, Humanity & Inclusion has been coordinating with national authorities and humanitarian actors in three of the five established COVID-19 working groups. These groups are risk communication and community engagement, infection prevention and control, and case management. HI staff are participating in bilateral meetings and the national coordination platform, clusters, and technical working groups. In the health cluster, HI has been appointed the lead agency for coordination of the sub-group on COVID-19 mental health and psychosocial support national hotline and disability working group.

    Humanity & Inclusion works to protect the most vulnerable 

    As of May 7, we count 141 new projects that aim to protect our beneficiaries and staff from the virus, and to help them during their countries' lock downs. As COVID-19 takes aim at our planet's most vulnerable neighbors, we're ensuring that people with disabilities, people with injuries from conflict, children, women, and especially older people have the information--and even the soap--to stay healthy. Learn more about our COVID-19 response.

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  • COVID-19 in Ethiopia | No customers, no income for father of 10

    Mohamed Badal is a 45-year-old father of 10, living in Fafan, a rural city in the Somali region, southeast Ethiopia. He is an owner of an electronic maintenance business. Like many small businesses, income has been deeply hit by the lockdown, causing him a lot of stress. Our team recently checked in with Mohamed to see how he was doing. Here’s what he told us:

    How COVID-19 changes daily life

    I work as electronic maintenance technician. My wife has a small restaurant. We were all doing ok before COVID-19, but now our daily income from the restaurant and electronic maintenance business is at risk. Demand from customers has rapidly declined, and our daily income is impacted. Customers who were traveling from surrounding villages are unable to come due to travel restrictions. I am really worried about my family’s future. 

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    Living in isolation

    Everyone is living in in isolation for fear of contracting the coronavirus . And due to travel restrictions, it’s difficult to reach social or heath services. When I needed treatment for tuberculosis, I was not able to go to the Jijiga Karamarda Hospital. Nobody wanted to take me there. There is so much fear among the community, so social cohesion is affected.

    Living in fear

    I fear the virus. It is currently a stressful living condition and I am worried about the impact for the future if COVID-19 continues to spread. If the virus hits the area hard, life will be even more difficult.

    Impact for the future

    I would like our easy daily life back, with a daily income, free movement and social interaction. I like my job of maintaining electronics, and I would also like to a become role model to show other community members that people with disabilities are capable and strong enough to manage their daily life.

    Staying informed about COVID-19

    I am well informed. I’ve obtained prevention information from Humanity & Inclusion and the government. Some of the information is about washing hands with soap and water, and to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth before hand washing. It’s also recommended not to shake hands.

    I also received hygiene kits from Humanity & Inclusion. COVID-19 can be prevented by following the instruction provided by health professionals like maintaining physical distancing and avoiding mass gatherings.

    I am personally able to implement these prevention measures, but physical distancing is difficult, because for the community here, being together is very important and people are not very disciplined, it isn’t easy to learn new practices.

    Humanity & Inclusion works to protect the most vulnerable 

    As of May 7, we count 141 new projects that aim to protect our beneficiaries and staff from the virus, and to help them during their countries' lock downs. As COVID-19 takes aim at our planet's most vulnerable neighbors, we're ensuring that people with disabilities, people with injuries from conflict, children, women, and especially older people have the information--and even the soap--to stay healthy. Learn more about our COVID-19 response.

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  • Joint Statement on Rohingya boat arrivals and disembarkation

    Today (May 7), 18 humanitarian agencies are urging the countries on the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea to conduct search and rescue operations to save the lives of refugees and asylum seekers stranded at sea and allow them to disembark on their shores where they should be provided with adequate assistance. States in the region should urgently agree on collective solutions to address the issue and better share responsibility for hosting refugees.

    Hundreds of mainly Rohingya refugees are currently believed to be stranded at sea. Bangladesh has recently allowed 400 refugees to disembark on their shores. However, governments in the region have been increasingly reluctant to allow refugees to disembark, partly due to the current COVID-19 context. At least two boats with refugees have been denied disembarkation and pushed back at sea between Malaysia and Bangladesh in the past weeks. The current situation bears worrying echoes of the so-called Asian “boat crisis” of 2015, when thousands of refugees were unable to leave boats in the Andaman Sea for several months, leading to hundreds of deaths.

    The refugees face deplorable conditions in maritime vessels, where a lack of food, fresh water and access to healthcare puts their lives at risk. When a boat containing close to 400 Rohingya was brought ashore in Bangladesh on 15 April, many of the survivors were severely and acutely malnourished and dehydrated. All of the at least 150 children, the majority of whom were girls, were unaccompanied or separated from their families and have experienced serious mental trauma.

    COVID-19 is no excuse to prevent people from disembarking, nor does it exempt States from upholding their obligations under international Human Rights, Humanitarian, Refugee and Maritime Laws. Pushing people back to sea is a violation of the principle of non-refoulement that forbids States from returning people to territories where they are at risk of persecution or other serious human rights violations. Preventing these boats from coming ashore will likely lead to more deaths at sea.

    Regional governments must take a coordinated approach to the current situation. Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Bangladesh are all members of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, which encourages a regional and coordinated approach to disembarkation. In February 2020, the Bali Process’s Task Force on Planning and Preparedness reaffirmed its commitment to saving lives in responding to “irregular maritime migration” and its support for the non-refoulement principle. Clearly, the conditions causing vulnerable people to flee in the middle of a global pandemic must also be addressed and we call on the government of Myanmar to immediately address the issues that are driving Rohingya to risk their lives on dangerous journeys at sea, including by implementing the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Committee. This should include ensuring that citizenship is granted in a non-discriminatory manner to everyone, including the Rohingya population, as well as removing restrictions on humanitarian access, freedom of movement and other barriers to accessing essential services.

    We urge all the governments in the region to save lives and priorities the needs of vulnerable people. Governments have a duty to provide protection and care to refugees and asylum seekers, including if appropriate, to place them in quarantine facilities while ensuring their rights are respected and basic needs are met. Access to these sites should be granted to humanitarian agencies. Governments should also make swift arrangements for refugees who have disembarked to be reunited with their families. 

    Action Contre la Faim
    Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network
    Asian Dignity Initiative
    ChildFund International
    COAST Trust
    Danish Refugee Council
    Humanity & Inclusion
    ISDE Bangladesh
    Médecins du Monde France
    Médecins du Monde Switzerland
    MUKTI Cox’s Bazar
    Norwegian Refugee Council
    Plan International
    Save the Children
    Solidarités International

  • United Nations includes vulnerable people in revised COVID-19 response plan

    On May 7, the United Nations presented its revised Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19. The number of countries covered by the plan has increased from 54 to 63 and the total financial requirements have risen to $6.7 billion. Anne Héry, Humanity & Inclusion’s director of advocacy and institutional relations explains:  

    “We are glad the United Nations response plan gets to grips with the challenges raised by the pandemic and the unprecedented scale of its humanitarian impact. A global, coordinated, and massive response is required to tackle COVID-19.  

    This latest version of the response plan takes into account the needs of vulnerable people, including people with disabilities. 80% of people with disabilities in the world live below the poverty line. They are particularly at risk from COVID-19. They are also the most negatively affected by the social and economic impact of the lockdown and social distancing measures implemented in their countries. People with disabilities and vulnerable individuals must not be side-lined in the pandemic response.

    We expect governments to put their weight fully behind this action plan and to do their utmost to implement it in the field, while ensuring the most vulnerable people are provided with specific assistance.”

  • COVID-19 in Afghanistan | Father with disability makes life-saving masks

    “This will help protect people from COVID-19,” Akhter Mohammad says amid a growing pile of finished masks he has sewn. He and his wife care for their three children in a rural area of Afghanistan’s Dand district of Kandahar. Akhter is 28, the oldest of 15 brothers and sisters, and therefore carries a responsibility to also look after his extended family, including his parents. His village offers few opportunities for work aside from for harvesting, which doesn’t provide enough income to support a family like his.

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    Akhter’s role was further challenged when he was injured from conflict, leaving him with a permanent disability. Without access to rehabilitation in his village, he endured years of pain, and his knee became misaligned, causing even more discomfort.  

    In 2019, Humanity & Inclusion heard of his condition, and paid for him to make daily, 1.5-hour journeys to Kandahar, where the team would help him find a more dependable livelihood. He chose sewing, learning stitches alongside students with and without disabilities.

    Humanity & Inclusion’s experience showed that a new skill, on its own, wouldn’t prove useful if Akhter was still in pain. So, the team arranged for him to receive physical therapy. They also explored accommodations that would make his day-to-day living easier. For Akhter, physical accessibility was never made a priority within his family or community. It wasn’t until meeting our team that he learned about accessibility and was able to benefit from the accommodations made by our team in the classes.

    With a certificate of completion and a sewing tool kit from his course in March 2020, he was ready. But so was COVID-19.

    Noting a dearth of personal protection equipment across Afghanistan, Humanity & Inclusion reached out to Akhter and his classmates to see if they wanted to learn to sew masks. Mask-making classes had to be remote, due to a lockdown, but students were interested.

    With a new pattern, Akhter got to work. "It’s a way to practice, as well as a source of income,” Akhter says. “This effort helps fulfill the shortage of PPE, especially here in the rural area, where people don’t have access to the city to purchase masks anymore, because of lockdown." 

    His first customers are his neighbors. He also shows them how to use the masks properly, and shares the stay-healthy messages he learned from Humanity & Inclusion. Hospitals and pharmacies also need masks, so his customer base is not limited.

    “It’s a good moment for me,” he says. “I am feeling happy with the response and appreciation of the people when they see masks are available in their village. For me it is a time to fill the need and make relations.”

    Dreaming of growth


    Akhter is optimistic about tailoring. He makes clothing for his children and other family members, and has recently started receiving orders from customers who require different designs and sizing. This challenge encourages him to learn even more in-depth sewing skills.

    He dreams of becoming a successful tailor, and, after the lockdown, he plans on opening a tailor shop—the first in his village. His goal: to train as many young people as possible to become tailors, just like him.

    COVID-19 response in Afghanistan

    Humanity & Inclusion’s team in the country is spreading awareness messages with beneficiaries like Akhtar. In addition to receiving information from the government, Akhter and his family is receiving guidance from our team on how to stay safe from the virus.

    Humanity & Inclusion works to protect the most vulnerable 

    As of May 5, we count 141 new projects that aim to protect our beneficiaries and staff from the virus, and to help them during their countries' lock downs. As COVID-19 takes aim at our planet's most vulnerable neighbors, we're ensuring that people with disabilities, people with injuries from conflict, children, women, and especially older people have the information--and even the soap--to stay healthy. Learn more about our COVID-19 response.

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  • COVID-19 in Ethiopia | Lockdown halts business & income for mother of 10

    Meryam is a 40-year-old mother of 10, living in Ethiopia. After being injured in a car accident, she now walks with crutches. Meryam runs her own peanut trade business in Fafan, in southeast Ethiopia. But the lockdown due to COVID-19 has put a stop to all trading activities. Our team recently checked in with Meryam to see how she was doing. Here’s what she told us:

    Business has come to a halt

    I use to sell peanuts for a living. Last month’s profit was approximately 500 Birr (15 USD) and that was rather good. My elder daughter sometimes tailors and sews which generates between 150 and 200 Birr. My husband is a daily labourer, but I bring in the main income for the family. We used to have just enough to cover household expenses like food.

    Due to COVID-19, the transport of groundnuts from the production sites to my home has stopped due to a national ban on travel. I have no source of income apart from my daughter, who still has some sewing orders, and support from one of my sons. Mutual assistance is really the key to cope with such a crisis in order to survive.

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    Hygiene kits & awareness from Humanity & Inclusion

    Humanity & Inclusion has provided us with COVID-19 hygiene kits and awareness information. I have also received public awareness notifications via mobile and on our local TV about COVID’s origin, transmission and preventive measures. I have changed my habits. I used to wash my hands with water only but now I am now using soap, like the rest of my family.  

    We have understood the main messages: frequently wash your hands with soap, no hand shaking when greeting and avoid public gatherings.

    Education & health care

    Like in most countries around the world, school teaching programs have ceased. Two of my children are still in primary school and one is in junior school. 

    I need regular rehabilitation care for my legs, but it is currently impossible due to the limitation of movement. Plus, medical teams are mainly focusing on the COVID crisis. A few days ago, my daughter had a severe stomach ache and it took a long time to reach a professional because the few professional health physicians were already engaged in COVID prevention. 

    Reduced social contact

    I am a member of the local businesswoman’s group and I am used to participating in discussions on a weekly basis with other members about business and other social issues. But the group is smaller than usual. We are not allowed to gather all 25 members at once. For those that do come, we practice social distancing. 

    I am really sad to see that traditions have been suspended. Last week we were informed that we would not be able to attend funerals. In this time of crisis, we really need strong social cohesion.

    I want this crisis to pass as quickly as possible, so we can all be back to normal life.

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  • COVID-19 Pandemic | Protect and Respond

    Humanity & Inclusion's field teams have launched their most expansive emergency response in 38 years. Our goal: ensure the people we assist every day—people with disabilities or chronic health conditions, people with injuries, refugees, and especially older people—have the support they need to be protected from the virus.

    Right now, we count 161 new projects that aim to protect our beneficiaries and staff from the virus, and to help them during their countries' lock downs. As COVID-19 takes aim at our planet's neighbors living in extreme conditions, we're ensuring that people with disabilities, people with injuries from conflict, children, women, and especially older people have the information--and even the soap--to stay healthy.

    Help us reach as many people as possible.

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  • COVID-19 in Myanmar | Providing masks & virtual rehabilitation care

    Fabrice Vandeputte, Humanity & Inclusion's director in Myanmar, explains how our teams are helping the most vulnerable individuals protect themselves from the coronavirus.

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    "Myanmar has been affected by COVID-19 for several weeks. The situation is worrying. Since testing capacity is low, there is no way of knowing how far it's spread. We think that the number of cases is much higher than reported and we're particularly worried about the most vulnerable people.

    We work primarily with people who have fled conflict and live in camps for internally displaced people, in the north of the country. They have very few resources. Sometimes eight people live in a room roughly four square meters. They still do not have access to running water, soap, etc. Not everyone uses social media, and they don’t know enough about the threat from the epidemic. COVID-19 could affect them more quickly as a result, and the consequences could be serious.

    Mask & sanitizer distributions

    We have adjusted our work to the epidemic. We have distributed masks and hand sanitizer gel to the people we assist, so they can wash their hands and protect themselves.

    Providing phones and virtual rehabilitation

    Humanity & Inclusion's physical therapists are filming their rehabilitation sessions and our volunteers are providing beneficiaries with phones, so that they can view the physical therapy sessions and stay in touch with our team. 

    Ambulance services

    We are working with three hospitals, mainly in Yangon, and with quarantine centers to assist emergency teams. We sort patients, distribute ventilators to intensive care units, and hand out an acetaminophen. We also work with ambulance services to ensure they know the disinfection protocol, so they won't be contaminated when they transport patients." 

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  • COVID-19 in Pakistan | Quarantine isolates children with disabilities

    Seven-year-old Samina lives in Pakistan. She is not able to walk, and cannot use her hands for certain tasks like bathing, combing her hair, or holding some objects. Samina used to be isolated due to her disabilities, but when Humanity & Inclusion invited her to be a part of a children’s group in her neighborhood, things began to change. 

    Until the coronavirus hit. COVID-19 has forced Pakistan into quarantine, putting huge restrictions on Humanity & Inclusion's activities for vulnerable children, like Samina. Our team is still finding ways to ease the impact of the lockdown on children like Samina and her family, but the virus has effectively placed Samina back into her home. Into isolation. 

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    Before quarantine

    Before the coronavirus, Samina was outside every day, playing with other children and making friends for the first time in her life.

    Before our team provided her with a wheelchair, her friends would carry her around the playground so she could participate in the same activities as them. Physical therapists gave Samina rehabilitation care at the community-based center, and at home she did physical therapy exercises as many as four times a day to help improve her mobility and to use of her hands.  

    Nine years ago, Samina’s family fled armed violence and has been living in displaced camps since. Her father is a daily laborer. “We are very poor,” her mother says. "We have never been able to arrange a medical treatment for Samina. But thanks to Humanity & Inclusion’s team, she was getting stronger.”

    Samina smiles while holding a doll in her wheelchair in Pakistan.

    Support amid lockdown 

    “All the improvements we have observed on her physical and mental condition in recent months risk to be wasted," says Sumaira Bibi, Humanity & Inclusion’s monitoring officer in Pakistan. "Samina felt very elated after each outside activity and we clearly observe a visible increase in her mental growth. Kids need to interact with children and play. By playing with toys, she was able to better move and use her hands and fingers. Such activities are essential for their well-being and growth. Samina also need to follow her rehabilitation exercises to ensure that her mobility will not be totally lost.”

    Although our community workers cannot continue organizing children's activities during the lockdown, our teams are finding ways to provide vital support. “We have kept in contact with Samina's mother to help ensure that Samina performs her physical therapy exercises at home regularly," Bibi explains. “It is important to maintain her mobility. Sessions on health and hygiene, as well as social distancing are also being organized with Samina's family to help fight COVID-19."

    Feeding a family

    Samina’s father hasn’t been able to work for the past three weeks. They have very little to eat. Humanity & Inclusion donors ensure that her family will receive food, as well as a hygiene kit.

    Like many parents, Samina’s mother and father find it very difficult to see their children so frustrated, depressed, and helpless during this global health crisis. Samina’s parents hope that the ongoing situation improves quickly so that she can meet up with the children’s group again. It’s not only fun for Samina, but it’s also one of the best therapies for her growth.

    Humanity & Inclusion in Pakistan

    Donor support has enabled our teams to work in Pakistan since the early 1980s, initially addressing the needs of Afghan refugees. Today, our mission has evolved to include issues that emerge from natural disasters. Learn more about our work in Pakistan.

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  • Inclusive Digital Learning during COVID-19

    Download a PDF of the Inclusive Digital Learning Guidance Note.

    A new series

    This guidance is part of a series to support you during the Covid-19 crisis. The guidance notes include #1- Inclusive Digital learning #2 - Teacher resources and #3 Home support. We will keep selecting interesting resources and develop new guidance as the crisis continues. Feel free to contact the IE sector and share if you have specific guidance needs, with your usual contact. Please share also the material you developed at country level, it might be relevant to other programs and partners.

    A quick note about translation

    If material that we have collected for your use at programme level is not available in language(s) you need, we can contact Translators without Borders to support us with translations. Let us know.

    You can also adapt some material, simplify it and make it more accessible, illustrated (e.g. with Widget). There is free trial version here, and more info is available in brief 1, tip 7. Please simply ensure you quote the original source and mention “adapted or translated from xxx”.


    1. Introduction
    2. Pictorial based summary of the top tips
    3. Explanation of the resources and more information about top tips, with hyperlinks of relevant resources

    IE Sector contacts

    Julia McGeown, Global Inclusive Education Specialist ( English speaking countries) : [email protected]

    Sandra Boisseau, Global Inclusive Education Specialist ( French speaking countries): [email protected]

    Sandrine Bohan- Jacquot Inclusive Education policy officer, and EIE focal point ( for Kenya/ Uganda/ Palestine/ Chad/ Algeria ) : [email protected]

    These briefs were developed with the support of Erika Trabuko, Accessibility specialist.

    To see the graphics on pages 2 and 3, download the PDF.

    10 TOP TIPS for inclusive digital learning

    For children and learners at home

    PLEASE CLICK on the HYPERLINKS (underlined words) for the resources!!

    To support children and learners, a number of organisations and agencies have developed repositories of resources to support distance-learning during COVID-19. There is a compilation of specific distance learning solutions available from UNESCO, and also a wealth of useful resources at INEE. There are also a range of resources for e-learning available here, from the Education Above All foundation, and a useful hub from DFID dedicated to Ed-tech, looking at research and innovation, with a specific section dedicated to COVID 19.

    To help with the vast range of information on distance learning, here are some recommendations about helpful resources that are simple to use to complement learning, do not require subscriptions, include resources in a range of languages (used in the context of HI programs), and are free to the user. These tips are about resources to be used for children and learners. Some education ministries are also making their own curriculums available online, through video teaching or by uploading the content through e- learning modules tec. A separate brief is available for resources to build teacher capacity in general.

    NOTE: Although these are recommendations about suitable ways to use free digital resources please note we suggest that children only spend limited time periods in front of screens, with plenty of breaks to run around and do exercise, especially young children.(e.g. around 20 – 30 minutes at a time)

    TIP: To make these resources more accessible, use your device’s embedded screen reader (tablet/mobile phone) to navigate through the websites, and magnifier or zoom to enlarge the text. You can also download a free screen reader for laptops on the NVDA website.

    Make use of FREE resources to promote literacy (i.e. storybooks)

    • Global Digital Library – Digital storybooks and other reading materials easily accessible from mobile phones or computers. This resource is very easy to use, and there are thousands of titles available in 43 languages, and the materials can be used offline.
      • Accessibility notes: this resource has only visual contents and navigation is not overly accessible for keyboard users
    • Storyweaver is great for multilingual stories too, although it’s less extensive. However it is useful for encouraging children with read local context books and stories. This also includes some audio-visual story books for children with visual impairment (readalong).
      • Accessibility notes: The site itself is not very accessible though, so blind children will need to be helped by adults to get to the desired audio resource
    • Deaf World Around You is a useful platform for young children with hearing impairment, with accompanying videos in sign language, to go with each story.
      • Accessibility notes: This platform is specifically designed to support learners who use sign language, which accompanies the text. Arabic, Nepali and American Sign Language are some of the sign languages included.
    • Ekitabu also has storybooks in Rwandan sign language and Kenyan Sign language

    Promote the use of FREE online lessons (in the core subjects) either as a supplement to the core curriculum or to replace it if necessary

    • Khan Academy provides free online lessons from 2-18 in core subjects such as maths, language, science, and humanities, plus tools to make it easy to track progress. It is easy to find the appropriate content for children in different grades, from pre-school to secondary level. It is available in 40+ languages, and aligned to national curriculum for over 10 countries. The content is based on a personalized approach to learning, and the teaching ethos is in line with inclusive education pedagogy, which is child friendly, and personalized to each individual child’s pace and way of learning. It is simple for children and parents to navigate and is motivating for learners. There is also a focus on removing barriers for all learners and the activities designed for pre-school children could also be applicable for older learners functioning at a lower academic level. A free app specific for young children under 8 is available for tablets or mobile phones
      • Accessibility notes: The site itself is quite accessible for keyboard users and navigation is easy. Also lessons are done through videos provided by captions, which is very good for children with hearing impairments.

    TIP: If recommending this resource to parents to use at home, suggest that teachers are involved in selecting which levels/ activities are the most appropriate for the child to work on. (e.g. some children in grade 2 could benefit from content from grade 1 for example). This resource could be used as a complement to other government provision online, (since the content is highly motivating) or also as a stand-alone, if no other content is available. Where possible, encourage teachers to contact parents through email/ text/ phone/ video message etc., to communicate about how to use the resources, discuss the child’s progress and listen to parents’ concerns. Realistically, this is only likely to happen on a semi-regular basis due to high numbers of children. In projects with other support staff such as CBR volunteers, or classroom assistants etc., more regular contact is possible.

    Make use of FREE resources to print out for home based learning (or to use as part of an education pack to send to families)

    • Twinkle provides thousands of free resources for primary school aged children, in a variety of languages, including Arabic, English, French, Lao, Spanish, Urdu, Hindi and many more. Resources include visual planners, school closure packs, and also fun games to help motivate children who feeling frustrated about being at home. The Special Educational Needs and Disability resource also contains activities and resources for children with special educational needs, such as children with speech, language and communication difficulties, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, hearing impairment, general intellectual disabilities, etc. This website is free to join and does not require a subscription, although some resources do require a paid fee. (A large number of printable resources are free).
      • Accessibility notes: The site itself is not very accessible though, so blind children will need to be helped by adults to get to the desired audio resource

    TIP: This website can be used directly by parents as they can simply scroll through to see which resources they like the look of, although it would still be helpful to be guided by a teacher. This resource is better in a context where it is possible to print materials at home, or print materials to send to children who are learning at home.

    Include resources for fun inside and outside play, and cultural activities, and activities for socio-emotional development to promote holistic learning.

    Technology can also be used to aid home learning through outside and inside play (Here are some outdoors activities for children that can be adapted for indoors)

    These are online worksheets, but the ideas themselves do not necessarily need internet.

    Technology can also be useful to help children have fun or learn more about culture.

    • Un défi par jour (French): fun ideas for daily indoor challenges for children
    • Coloring drawings by great artists (to print)
    • Promenades imaginaires au Musée d’Orsay (French): fascinating stories inspired by the artworks of the Orsay Museum in Paris
    • Virtual tours (English): interviews, videos and amazing virtual tours of the greatest museums in the world

    Digital resources are also available to support children with their socio – emotional development.

    • Tips to support parents during COVID 19 to support learning and promote well-being with a focus on ideas to help families to find ways to breathe, laugh, and play together are available on the Sesame street website.
    • A resource from Ubongo is available here, to support socio-emotional skills

    TIP: In a context where teachers or HI staff are able to print out resources and send them home in an education pack, for children to work through at home, printable resources could be more feasible.

    Make use of resources for learning foreign languages for free

    • One of the best and most motivating apps out there is duolingo, which is highly motivating and easy to use so is helpful for learners who have limited concentration. It is self-directed, so doesn’t require a parent or teacher to support
      • Accessibility notes: this resource is not overly accessible for keyboard users

    - Free language games and activities to learn French

    - Free language games and activities to learn English

    TIP: This is a good resource to recommend if users have android mobile phones / tablets, and in a context where children have access to the phone or tablet to direct their own study.

    Encourage the use of websites and platforms where the content works offline.

    These are very important given that in many contexts where we work the internet connection, even if it exists, may not be reliable. In such contexts, it may be possible to download an app when internet is working and then use it offline. In addition to the downloadable content mentioned above (such as Twinkle resources, or the storybooks from the global digital library etc.), the following sites are recommended:

    • Kolibri is an open-source, offline-installable technology platform which provides access to an openly licensed educational content library. It provides tools for pedagogical support for use in low-resource and low-connectivity contexts. Due to the current covid 19 crisis, Kolibri will be bringing out additional guidance on using Kolibri at home, and guidance on how to use align the content to national curricula, and how to pre-position devices for distribution etc, and support to governments.
      • Accessibility notes: some of the provided videos have subtitles or captions and are suitable for learners with hearing impairments. Also, it has been designed so that assistive technology products can be plugged in easily.
    • Rumie, pre-installed tablets and computers, complete with relevant content are delivered to learners. The content is all open source on Rumie’s cloud.

    TIP: Unlike the previous suggestions, these platforms would need to be part of a solution that HI includes within the project, rather than just a suggestion for parents and teachers to use on their own phones/ tablets/ computers etc.

    Make use of resources that facilitate the creation of picture symbols and related materials to support the communication and learning of children with cognitive difficulties or communication impairments

    Do2learn is a website for parents and teachers, with printable resources to support home learning for children. (This is only in English.)

    Widgit allows users a free month’s trial that can be useful to create a wide range of pictograms to be used on simple communication boards or in visual timetables. There are some picture symbols explaining what COVID 19 is all about. This is in English, but the software can be taught to use other languages.

    ARASAAC offers free picture symbol and resources, to facilitate communication, but it is a bit harder to navigate, and it is not possible to write full sentence in symbols like with Widgit. This is available in a range of languages such as Arabic, French, and Portugese. See the annex for other similar websites.

    TIP: These resources are helpful for learners who have a range of different needs, including Autism, intellectual disabilities, dyslexia, attention and behavior difficulties etc. It is more likely that HI staff, education authorities or others in larger centers would have access to printers to make use of this software (rather than parents). Creation of relevant personalized resources is something that could be carried out by paid staff members (e.g. itinerant teachers) during the lock down/ confinement period. This resource can help make “easy –to- read” materials, as pictures can accompany words to help explain content.

    Promote free audio resources for children with visual impairments

    Storynory is an online resource where various short stories can be listened to in English, as are Storytime and Stories podcast. The alien adventures of Finn Caspian is a science fiction story in hundreds of episodes that can be listened to or downloaded, as The two princes and the Unexplainable disappearance of Mars Patel. On But why: a podcast for curious kids or on What if world short podcasts can be listened to, replying to funny or strange questions that children may have about all possible topics.

    Repository of French podcasts

    Try to promote multi-group learning, in addition to individual learning through apps, printed resources, digital books and self-directed content.

    • There are a number of options to try to promote group learning, such as Skype , Hangouts Meet , and Teams , but the one of the simplest for teachers to use with learners at home, which operates on low internet connectivity, is Zoom, a cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat and webinars.
      • Accessibility notes: Even the basic free version allows the user to record the session and can enable captioning which is helpful for learners with hearing impairments and those who need to view the lesson again, to help with memory difficulties or difficulties in being able to take notes due to physical disabilities.

    TOP TIP FOR APP and WEBSITE DEVELOPERS: When you are designing an app or a website, think about accessibility!

    Learners with a range of difficulties (including visual, hearing, intellectual, physical or communication impairments) will need to be able to access the app or website as well as all content (Word files, PDFs, Videos, etc.).Useful references can be found below:

    • Android accessibility guidelines for apps
    • DEQUE accessibility checklist for Android apps
    • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1)
    • Accessibility of Microsoft products
    • How to make a Word file accessible
    • How to make a PPT file accessible
    • How to make an Excel file accessible

    Also think about developing an easy-read option.

    TIP: If there is additional budget to be reallocated, also think about assistive technology options, to facilitate the use of digital equipment by persons with different disabilities (e.g. larger keyboards, switches, eye gaze ,foot operated mice, or large switches instead of mice, etc.). 

    Annex: Websites for further reading (on page 9 of the downloadable PDF)

    Download a PDF of the Inclusive Digital Learning Guidance Note.

  • published Home support during COVID-19 in COVID-19 Resources 2020-04-23 12:49:49 -0400

    Home support during COVID-19

    Download a PDF of the Home Support Guidance Note.

    A new series

    This guidance is part of a series to support you during the Covid-19 crisis. The guidance notes include #1- Inclusive Digital learning #2 - Teacher resources and #3 Home support. We will keep selecting interesting resources and develop new guidance as the crisis continues. Feel free to contact the IE sector and share if you have specific guidance needs, with your usual contact. Please share also the material you developed at country level, it might be relevant to other programs and partners.

    A quick note about translation

    If material that we have collected for your use at programme level is not available in language(s) you need, we can contact Translators without Borders to support us with translations. Let us know.

    You can also adapt some material, simplify it and make it more accessible, illustrated (e.g. with Widget). There is free trial version here, and more info is available in brief 1, tip 7. Please simply ensure you quote the original source and mention “adapted or translated from xxx”.


    1. Introduction
    2. Pictorial based summary of the top tips
    3. Explanation of the resources and more information about top tips, with hyperlinks of relevant resources

    IE Sector contacts

    Julia McGeown, Global Inclusive Education Specialist ( English speaking countries) : [email protected]

    Sandra Boisseau, Global Inclusive Education Specialist ( French speaking countries): [email protected]

    Sandrine Bohan- Jacquot Inclusive Education policy officer, and EIE focal point ( for Kenya/ Uganda/ Palestine/ Chad/ Algeria ) : [email protected]

    These briefs were developed with the support of Erika Trabucco, Accessibility specialist.

    Summary of Top Tips for Home Support – with a focus on children with disabilities  

    When schools are closed, as a parent, you may find yourself in a challenging situation which can seem hard to manage. You may be wondering how to support your child with disability during this time, reduce their stress and help them to keep learning. It is important to follow a few recommendations for the next few weeks until the schools reopen.

    See graphic on pages 2-5 of the downloadable PDF.

    10 TOP TIPS for Home Support

    For parents of children with disabilities

    PLEASE CLICK on the HYPERLINKS (underlined words) for the resources!!

    To help parents interact constructively with their children during this time of self-isolation, and to improve both wellbeing and learning outcomes for girls and boys affected by the COVID 19 crisis, a wide range of resources have been developed. Although not every idea or resource suggested will be relevant or possible in every situation and context, we tried to select the most appropriate ones that cover the main areas of recommendations of this note.

    These six one-page tips developed by WHO for parents will be useful. It is available in 60 different languages.

    Also, the Babel centre has developed an interesting transcultural kit to support parents with children of age group 4 to 10 years old during this period of self-isolation (only in French).

    More tips for parents and caregivers during COVID19 school closures can be found on INEE website, available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic and on UNICEF site by clicking here.

    Practical advices for families of children with autism and neurodevelopmental disorders are available on Robert Debré Hospital website.

    1. Keep routines during the school closure

    The transition to being at home will be different depending on the age of your child. But it is important to structure the day with learning, leisure and physical activities whatever your child’s needs. Talk to your child about expectations and create a flexible schedule and routine for being at home.

    Keep in mind that it is important that your child wakes up at a set time and goes to bed early, keeping to a rhythm and routine that is similar to usual term time. Allow for flexibility in the schedule—it’s okay to adapt based on your own activities and constraints!

    Don't hesitate to formalize your child's timetable in writing or pictures so that he or she can refer to it .Visual pictograms /symbols or even hand drawn simple pictures can be really useful. Some examples can be found here. You can also create your own ones, by using the Widgit software for example. See tip 7 on Brief 1 for more information.

    This planning should ideally include times when children play together and times when each child plays on his/her own.

    1. Coping with stress

    School closures and other changes in routine can be stressful for every child; these feelings can be exacerbated for children with disabilities (children with autism or children with ADD (attention deficit disorder) are particularly exposed). That is why it is important to pay special attention to these children. Be sure to protect your child from stress, talk with him/her in a calm manner, adapted to his/her level of understanding about why he/she is staying home and what your daily structure will be during this time.

    Some simple information about the COVID19 might be useful for all children, especially for those with intellectual disabilities. A range of media are recommended as storybooks, posters, videos, etc. Here are few: Solidarité Santé Gouv (in French), Blog hop Toys , Poster Santé BD in English and French

    A short book to reassure our children (available in many different languages) and one in French

    Information in sign language: A you tube video in American sign language

    Easy to read information: https://www.inclusion-europe.eu/easy-to-read-information-about-coronavirus/?fbclid=IwAR3sMNXhfap6NARfBpCKHMRSc7H37lqo8Tw8z5-4ZVqMAcB0YWgO3uMkeGA

    Corona & Covid (French):

    Stress management:

    UNICEF 8 tips to help comfort children (available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Japanese)

    Further resources on guidance note #2 Teacher resources-How to talk about Covid-19 to children are also of great interest.

    Also, others resources from the guidance note #1 digital learning might be useful, especially the Sesame street website. and the Ubongo here,

    1. Model basic hygiene and healthy lifestyle practices

    Practice daily good hygiene helps to stay healthy. It is even more important to respect good hygiene conditions in times of epidemics. Encourage your child to practice these simple steps to prevent spreading the virus.

    You can help children wash their hands by making handwashing easier for them, for instance, by setting up a stool so they can reach water and soap by themselves. You can make it fun for them by singing their favorite songs while you help them rub their hands

    Act as a good role model by washing often your hands and make basic hygiene practices. It helps prevent the spread of not just the coronavirus but many other common viruses and bacteria.

    When access to water is limited, it's encouraged to have more regular hand-washing, rather than long hand-washing, throughout the day.

    In many places, there is also limited access to soap. Solutions are possible. This includes using chlorinated water, as well as washing hands with ash and clay in lieu of soap. Even washing hands with water and no soap is better than nothing.

    If possible, encourage your child to eat healthy foods rather than sweets, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly; this will help them develop a robust immune system to fight off illness.

    Easy steps to prevent Coronovirus

    1. Playing is learning

    There are many ways that parents can stimulate their child’s development. They can give nurturing care, encourage conversation and storytelling, and teach life skills for example. They can also focus on play, by a providing time and materials for imaginative or make-believe play (e.g., pretending to ‘cook’ rice in a pot). This may be seen as only something that children do in some cultures. But if parents get involved in imaginative play, this is known to stimulate a child’s language and cognitive development. Sharing traditional stories, crafts, games and oral histories are also great hands-on learning experiences.

    Look for ways to make learning as fun and playful as possible.

    Many games can be played without concrete materials (using your body to do letters, shapes, mimes, simple counting songs and games, scissors/paper/stone etc.). Use what’s available near or in your house such as stones, piece of wood to play hopscotch, a rope to jump, old paper/tissue to make a ball, sticks and sand to draw and build, or to bury “treasure” such as pictures, numbers, shapes and letters. It’s a fun game to find the “treasure” and then the child has to say what it is. If you have an old box, you can turn it into a postbox by making a small hole, and children love to post pictures of words, which makes learning to read or match words to pictures much more fun! . You can also use everyday activities and routines at home, such as preparing food, washing clothes as learning opportunities.

    If parents structure a child’s play, it can also really promote learning. If you don’t have a lot of time to play with your child, there may be other family members (brothers and sisters) in your home who are often great at knowing the best games to play with him/her, but it’s really helpful to build in even 5 to 10 minutes to just concentrate on playing with your child too , in an activity that they choose.

    There are many things you can do with resources around your house such as counting stones, or putting them in a bottle and making a shaker.

    Play @ home is a series of games and activities with infographics developed by Right to Play to respond to needs arising due to the COVID-19 crisis.

    home based guidance from Growing Together project in Asia.zip

    Note: Check the # 1 ( digital learning and printable resources) and #2 ( support to teachers) guidance notes for further resources on games which can be created or used at home for learning purposes.

    1. Keep a secure and stimulating environment

    As parent or caregiver, we can do a few things to make kids feel more secure and stimulated during this unusual time.

    Children are stimulated by everything in their environment. So as your child with disability will be around you most of the time when schools are closed, you should make sure that you spend time talking with him/her, explaining what you are doing, smiling with him/her, telling him/her about his/her environment. Include and involve your child in everything that you do if possible.

    Work on your child’s independence in activities of daily living, if this is difficult for them. : support your child do their daily living activities by themselves (washing himself/herself, washing his/her teeth, washing his/her hands properly, getting dressed, wearing shoes, ...) while supervising and encouraging him/her. Simple picture / pictogram prompts can help too. Encourage your child’s participation and try to resist them being passive in these tasks. Small simple rewards can help, such as drawing stars on a chart, or promising extra play time etc. In case of difficulty, show him/her how to do it. Repeat these activities as often as possible.

    If your child has some difficulties with fine motor ( coordinating fingers and hands) or gross motor skills ( balance and larger movements) , there are lots of fun and stimulating games you can do to help them to develop. You could set up obstacle courses in or near your house, where they have to balance on a bench, walk along a line, try to walk backwards, or fill a container with water or sand , and try to post small objects into a box etc. These activities also help overall learning.

    Here are some ideas of home activities to develop gross and fine motor skills (in French). Here are some ideas for gross motor skills games ( jumping, balancing etc) and for fine motor skills games ( beading, threading, etc) using low cost resources. .

    1. Make use of the outreach rehabilitation services

    CBR volunteers or similar community agents often play a great role in supporting people with disabilities in their communities with one-to -one support. Such support is even more important during these challenging times if restrictions still allow this. Outreach rehabilitation services might be in place in some areas despite the situation. Stay informed about the opportunities in your community. They may be available to support through SMS and phone catch ups if physical visits are not possible in the short term.

    The volunteers can provide particular support such as educational activities to promote cognitive development, help students catch up on classes, and help make sure children return to schools once they re-open.

    1. Maintain contact with specialized resources

    If your child usually receives individualized support for his/her learning helped by an itinerant teacher or a volunteer/ classroom assistant during school terms for example, the measures taken during the COVID19 pandemic will impact that person’s job and the support given to your child. However, it is essential to maintain this contact by phone/ SMS or via social media if possible. If an individualized plan exists, discuss the activities that you can prioritize and how to implement them. Home visits could also be arranged when appropriate, and video messages sent by phone could also be arranged in the interim.

    If the support person (such as Itinerant teacher ) is able to visit your home more than usual because the schools are closed, once restrictions are eased, make the most of this opportunity. It is a good time to work together to help your child learn at home, and to revise his/ her learning targets, even if he / she is not in school.

    1. Find out about the existing distance learning programs

    In most countries, distance learning programs are being developed through different channels (TV, internet, radio,). As a parent, it can be difficult to provide the right support to his/her child’s learning. You should try to keep informed about the existing distance learning programs developed in your country and if possible, try to make a good use of it for your child. Ask your child’s teacher or other educational staff for information.

    Keep in mind that brothers and sisters can be relevant resources to support your child’s learning. Especially older siblings as they may support with the learning they already know.

    At home, they can help with activities such as scribbling, doing dot to dot pictures, letters and numbers, and making number or letter shapes with their bodies Start withdrawing letters and numbers in the sand with a finger or a stick before using pencil and paper. On paper, provide visual cues such as a faint line or and then dot to dot, and helping with hand to hand at the beginning.

    Recognition of shapes: with a stick in the sand, you can make a semi-circle, a round, a square, a triangle, a sequence of shapes and then ask your child to name the shape. You can do the same with the letters of the alphabet.

    On these websites, you can find a range of learning activities: http://www.autisme-ressources-lr.fr/IMG/pdf/liste-ressources-autisme-activites-educatives.pdf and http://www.cra-npdc.fr/2019/07/activites-structurees-de-jeux/

    As a reminder, here is another resource in English to support children with autism.

    1. Maintain socializing times

    Maintain socializing times with people outside the home on a regular basis (family, friends from school) if possible via the telephone or social networks. Schedule a time for your children to maintain links and chats with peers where possible.

    1. As parent, take good care of yourself

    When parents are anxious, children are too. It is important to take care of yourself as a parent. You must be informed, but be careful not to listen to a loop of information channels that can increase anxiety. You can also do breathing or relaxation sessions, with or without your child. Here are some suggestions if you can access online resources.

    IE Sector (Julia, Sandra and Sandrine), supported by Erika Trabucco (Accessibility global specialist), Humanity & Inclusion, April 2020.

    Download a PDF of the Home Support Guidance Note.


  • Inclusive Governance Guidance Note on COVID-19

    Download a PDF of the Inclusive Governance Guidance Note on COVID-19.

    Quick facts:

    Persons with disabilities are widely being left out of COVID-19 responses around the world and are facing additional stigma and discrimination when trying to access services. There is a global cry for data collection and advocacy around the inclusion of persons with disabilities. HI is committed to the “nothing about us without us” approach which places persons with disabilities, through their representative organizations, at the center of the change towards an inclusive Covid-19 response. Persons with disabilities are in the best position to express their requirements and outline barriers in their communities.

    The inclusive governance approach fits in a context where the governments (national, regional and local) are in charge of the response to the crisis. In these types of contexts, humanitarian actors do not have the leadership and mandate to make decisions. Governments are creating policies in response to COVID-19 and must include persons with disabilities as equal citizens within their response frameworks.

    An important ally and partner, the International Disability Alliance (IDA) has a COVID-19 webpage that is updated daily with comprehensive resources.

    Another important resource concerning government measures and responses to COVID-19 is the human-rights checklist by Human Rights Watch, including on questions concerning persons with disabilities. It also includes useful practices.

    Why is this so important?

    The potential impact of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups highlights the need for an inclusive response by all actors, including civil society. Public measures and prevention information should always be distributed in a variety of accessible formats, such as easy read, through captions or sign language, braille and accessible to screen reading software. All actors should specifically target vulnerable populations throughout their response efforts. Some persons with specific disability types are at higher risk of contracting and developing severe cases of COVID-19, as the infection exacerbates existing health conditions that some people with disabilities experience, such as weakened immune systems, respiratory conditions, or other chronic conditions.

    To ensure an inclusive response civil society organizations play an important role. Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs/OPDs) and their members already have to deal with the emergency situation with little or no direct consideration of the specific requirements associated with the lack of access to basic needs, coordination mechanisms and inclusive response policies.

    Key messages :

    • DO NO HARM: Protect yourself and your family, staff, partners and of course the beneficiaries.
    • Work closely with other stakeholders and ensure coordination in the response is happening at all levels
    • Follow HI’s guidelines and the guidance from the national and local authorities regarding COVID 19 at all times.

    • Government consultation and dialogue with civil society to ensure existing laws and policies are being implemented and include persons with disabilities and vulnerable groups. Where policies and government regulations are being created in direct response of COVID-19, ensure they must be inclusive of persons with disabilities and compliant with the CRPD.

    Meaningful participation of CSOs, DPOs and persons with disabilities in the country-level response: persons with disabilities must be engaged in every step – the response must follow the rights-based approach and be done with persons with disabilities and DPOs, rather than done to or done for. DPOs have a key role in this response , such as identifying persons, supporting individuals and influencing the response. We need to work in partnership with them to do this.

    Financial support to CSOs and DPOs at all levels to properly mobilize the response. Funders are being flexible and understanding with adapting activities to COVID-19 responses. When proposing new activities and corresponding budgets, ensure DPOs will receive the financial support and compensation that is needed. Ensure this is not just at the national umbrella DPO level, but with other DPOs in the country, also down to the grassroots level.

    • A particular attention should be given to underrepresented groups (organizations of people with psychosocial disabilities, organizations of persons who are DeafBlind, etc.) and to their connection with umbrella groups and vice versa, in order to leave no one behind.

    • Support the connection of DPOs and CSOs with local public actors responsible for emergency response. Work with DPOs and local authorities to strengthen monitoring of needs, access to COVID-19 protection and response mechanisms to ensure an inclusive response. DPOs also serve an important role around referral, access to information and identification of persons with disabilities.

    Monitor and collect data - embed disability into any monitoring, research or data collection mechanisms developed for COVID-19 responses to ensure persons with disabilities are being identified. Ensure that disaggregated data is monitored, analyzed, and shared with other stakeholders, such as the UN, IDA, and IDDC. Previous responses to disease outbreaks typically fail to disaggregate disability data, so there is a lack of information on what works. Disaggregated disability data is crucial for advocacy at all levels and to include future inclusive responses, especially taking into account intersectionality and the specific impacts of the crisis on women and girls with disabilities.

    • Response communications and information: All COVID-19 responses should be in line with the CRPD and ‘Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action’ with COVID-19 actions and language/ communications need to clearly mention people with disabilities so that they are not forgotten in the program design and implementations

    • The gendered impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak have been highlighted, already showing increased gender-based violence. Girls with disabilities are already at greater risk of GBV and unpaid care work than girls without disabilities, therefore this could greatly impact them. When implementing an inclusive response intersectionality needs to be taken into account, and the specific impacts of the crisis on women and girls with disabilities.

    An Inclusive Response

    The Inclusive Governance and Inclusive Humanitarian Action teams historically work closely together in certain contexts and will continue to do so while responding to COVID-19, utilizing existing networks at all levels. Countries with overlap include Thailand, CAR, Iraq, Syria, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Kenya and Uganda where the teams coordinate an inclusive response to emergency, protracted conflict and nexus settings. On the other hand, current donor behavior and the different country examples demonstrate that the actual situation of emergency will remain relatively short (estimations up to six months). Touching upon the humanitarian-development nexus the existing partnerships with DPOs thus lead into medium-term planning and strengthening DPO capacities, the rule of law through human rights and the CRPD in particular, as well as assisting DPOs as civil society stakeholders in their interaction with public authorities, relevant ministries and service providers. All of these components are critical for an inclusive COVID-19 response, including:

    • Ensure the response is compliant with Article 11 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) « Situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies” and follow the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Guidelines on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action.
    • Refer and support: shared approaches are around awareness building on rights and protection mechanisms amongst DPOs and community members, including self-help groups (SHG) as some cases DPOs may not be able to work (despite being active members of civil society). A focus is also placed an access to inclusive services and having existing DPOs act as referral mechanisms: identifying beneficiaries while also sharing information with their members about available services.
    • Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID): promotes equality and the widest social participation at the grassroots level. It is based on the key notions of decentralization and local citizen participation and the principle that inclusion leads to better outcomes. This means that COVID-19 policies and programs are designed, planned, implemented, and evaluated in ways that allow all people —especially those with disabilities— to contribute to the transformation of their societies
    • Technical Assistance: provide support to mainstream actors and systems towards inclusive services and projects to strengthen the inclusive action of states and local services. All technical assistance should include DPOs and share global approaches and methodology, for example on participatory assessments, tailored action plans, staff training and coaching, as well as proposed tools to mainstream disability towards an inclusive response. All technical assistance must also promote the fundamental principles of participation (especially of DPOs), nondiscrimination and accessibility.
    • Support to drafting and implementing disability policies and to specific sectors (such as rehabilitation, health, education, employment). This support to local and national authorities will be aimed to set up inclusive local systems and provide social protections. Social protection is critical for long-term socio-economic recovery.

    Adaptation of existing projects to fit the new situation with COVID 19

    There are two main stages to consider:

    If movement is still allowed within communities:

    • Ensure that there is provision of sanitizer, water and soap, where possible, accessible for all, and provide messages that are relevant and possible to implement, and understood by all community members.
    • Update mapping of public actors, CSOs/DPOs in the intervention area, verify the response mechanisms and work with DPOs with relevant expertise for making the response more inclusive (e.g. sign language/easy to read production/inclusive monitoring mechanisms) Ensure a community based inclusive development (CBID) approach.
    • Support DPOs in analyzing data on risks, barriers and access for persons with disabilities and to develop advocacy messages to reduce those risk/barriers if the situation worsens.
    • Mobilize CSOs/DPOs and provide technical guidance on awareness sessions for their members and their families on prevention, health and access to response services. Share existing awareness rising messages, supporting to adapt materials and provide incentives to cover costs for activities. Ensure an intersectional approach is prioritized.
    • Work with CSOs/DPOs to engage with national governments, local authorities and the media to leave no one behind when planning their responses. Emphasize the personal requirements and tailor made approaches for persons with disabilities and need for protection and inclusion. In some cases existing relationships with ministries can be activated to create awareness among governmental stakeholders, knowing that during the crisis the respective ministry of health will play a key role. Pay particular attention to the situation of persons with disabilities living in institutions as they are of heightened risk!
    • Remember to consider policies and guidelines if they are being drafted and ensure CSOs/DPOs are being involved in the consultation processes. Share advocacy and awareness messages on the current state of access for persons with disabilities to services and what needs to be improved.

    If movement is not allowed and individuals are ordered to stay home:

    • In accordance with Articles 11 and 21 (CRPD), ensure that the information and communication mechanisms of public actors are inclusive, using different formats (signs, audio and written) with a focus on easy-to-read format for persons with intellectual disabilities or low literacy rates.
    • Support CSOs/DPOs to share information to local authorities and service providers on where their members live so food distribution, cash transfers and other services are provided directly to them and their families
    • Update and adapt referral mechanisms used by DPOs since access to services will change: ensure their members are receiving updated information on where and how to access inclusive services
    • Act as a coordination mechanism and establish (if not already) and strengthen links with DPOs, local actors, networks and monitoring mechanisms and between emergency responders.
    • Collect and gather information of target beneficiaries, providing inputs on national plans of action for a COVID-19 response and work with DPOs through different task forces to develop position papers for the inclusion persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups
    • Support local CSOs/DPOs to increase awareness and safety to share with members through safe methods (similar to other awareness raising sessions but maintaining distance) such as phone calls and text messages where internet isn’t available. Where phones are not available, utilize self help groups and other informal community mechanisms to share via word of mouth (again, maintaining distance).
    • Support DPOs to collect information on the situation of their members to share at the national level and feed global advocacy messages and networks. This can greatly increase attention to their needs and if they are being left out of the response. While facing dangerous situations of isolation, this is an extremely important component. Again, closely take into account persons with disabilities living in institutions.

    Examples of some HI programs already adapting their activities through an Inclusive Governance approach:

    In Kenya, through the Disability Inclusive Development (DID) Program, new task orders can be submitted to respond to COVID-19. The team is finalizing proposed activities and a corresponding budget to adapt current education and livelihood activities in Kakuma Refugee Camp. They are working with existing DPO partners through all of their activities on inclusion, accessible awareness raising and mitigation. DPOs will collect stories of persons with disabilities on their experience during COVID-19 for data and advocacy purposes. The team will also work with DPOs to develop messages and conduct radio awareness sessions, print accessible materials and share sign language videos. DPOs will also mobilize and provide hygiene packs and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for persons with disabilities and their caregivers.

    In Iraq, the Building Peaceful Futures Project is shifting their community inclusion awareness campaigns to focus on COVID-19 information and key messages around inclusion. This includes door to door posters/flyers, and media campaigns. The CRPD monitoring field assessment on health, education and livelihoods is continuing through phone interviews, with discussion of adapting the monitoring tools to be adapted to monitor access to services during COVID-19.

    In the Philippines, HI staff are conducting online discussions/sharing on how to influence local authorities to consider the voice of persons with disabilities in local responses. DPO leaders who already have experiences are able to share their technical knowledge. Part of the online discussions are around how to implement laws related to COVID-19, such as the recently released Guidelines on Providing Proper Welfare of Persons With Disabilities During the Enhanced Community Quarantine Due to COVID-19 Pandemic. They are actively sharing resources as they come out through the online discussions, phone calls and text messages.

    In Sierra Leone, the HI team is working to support persons with disabilities indirectly by working with the ministries and DPOs by offering to review materials to make sure they are accessible. One of the projects has a quarterly budget for advocacy, so this quarter's budget will be given as a grant to 3 DPOs to launch a call for proposals to submit ideas on how to ensure people with disabilities are reached during this COVID19 response.

    Questions? Please contact Humanity & Inclusion’s Inclusive Governance team:

    Jonas Bull, Inclusive Governance Specialist: [email protected]

    Léo Goupil-Barbier, Inclusive Governance Specialist: [email protected]

    Ruby Holmes, Inclusive Governance Specialist: [email protected]

    Download a PDF of the Inclusive Governance Guidance Note on COVID-19.

  • COVID-19 in Togo | Stay-healthy campaign & soap protect most vulnerable

    Humanity & Inclusion’s teams in Togo are taking action to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our priority is to help the most vulnerable people understand the importance of taking basic precautionary measures. We’re also helping others cope with their fear of the virus.

    How does the virus spread? How can a person protect themselves? What’s best way to help people with disabilities, who are often the most vulnerable? Humanity & Inclusion tackles these questions and more.

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    Spreading awareness messages far and wide

    Humanity & Inclusion’s team drives around the streets of Togo’s capital, Lomé, broadcasting prevention messages through loudspeakers mounted on the roof of their vehicles. “It works really well because people want clear information on how to protect themselves and their loved ones,” explains Irène Manterola, Humanity & Inclusion's country director in Togo. “There are a lot of mixed signals out there, so it’s not easy for everyone to navigate.”

    Basic precautionary measures adapted to the most vulnerable

    For many, the recommended precautionary measures are impossible to apply. For example, what about a wheelchair user who needs help bathing or eating? “Social distancing, okay! But people with disabilities or older people—individuals who normally need a caregiver or health or medical assistant, cannot be left to fend for themselves. We need caregivers to be able to protect themselves, while also attending to the most vulnerable,” Irène adds. 

    Making hygiene accessible to all

    The price of hygiene products in Togo has soared in recent weeks—including a seven-fold increase in the cost of sanitizer gel. This makes it even more difficult for people to take precautionary measures. To combat these challenges, Humanity & Inclusion’s teams are making bleach and soap for hygiene kits, so that the most vulnerable have access to these essential items. “We hand them out to our beneficiaries and in the poorest areas, where there is more overcrowding.”  

    Radio programs to reassure the population

    The pandemic has generated a lot of fear in Togo. To help people manage this fear, our teams have recorded a series of radio segments. “One of the biggest problems we face is how to gauge the information. People need to know how serious the situation is without making them feel completely helpless,” says Irène. Building on the success of these programs, we are now working with the country’s union of psychiatrists and psychologists to create a free counseling helpline that anyone can call seeking support.

    Humanity & Inclusion in Togo  

    Humanity & Inclusion has been working in Togo for nearly 23 years and implements multiple projects. This work is particularly in aid of people with disabilities and highly vulnerable groups. We work to improve the healthcare services provided to mothers and children, we promote inclusive education, and much more. Learn more about our work in Togo.

    Make a monthly gift to help us sustain this work and reach as many people as possible.

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  • COVID-19 in Madagascar | They didn’t even know about the virus

    For people living in the world's poorest countries, accessing information looks very different than it does in the United States. Living far from town, many remote villagers know little or nothing of the pandemic.

    As COVID-19 devastates communities around the globe, Humanity & Inclusion is going the extra mile to ensure that as many people as possible, especially people with disabilities, know how to protect themselves.

    Learning how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 is the only way to prevent countless tragedies and to mitigate the spread. Humanity & Inclusion's teams have launched 72 COVID-19 projects in dozens of countries to protect and care for the people that often get overlooked. 

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    Going door-to-door

    Life is harsh in Fokontany Ambodimanary, part of Madagascar's Maevatanana district. Here, people struggle to provide food, clothing and care for their families. COVID-19 can seem like a distant threat. But the emergency is becoming very real.

    Marcellin, 36, was trained by Humanity & Inclusion to help teach people here to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. A member of the local relief team, he makes daily visits to the homes of people with disabilities, people who are older or highly isolated, and the most vulnerable families in his community.

    He teaches them how to protect themselves and the people around them.

    “We need to wash our hands regularly”

    Albert, a father of five, has taken the lessons on board. The whole family gathered in front of their home and listened carefully recently, as Marcellin explained the basic precautionary measures to protect themselves from the virus. He took his time, showed them the proper way to wash their hands, and answered their questions.

    “I learned that we need to wash our hands regularly with soap and stay at least one meter (or three feet, the WHO guidance) from other people to protect ourselves from the virus,” explains Albert.

    Preventing the virus' spread

    In regions of Madagascar not yet under lock down, it is essential that everyone is able to access information, particularly the most vulnerable people living in highly remote areas.

    Marcellin is keenly aware of the importance of his mission. “The community takes a close interest in the messages I share with them about this terrible virus,” he says. “I’m glad to be able to do my civic duty.”

    Humanity & Inclusion in Madagascar  

    Humanity & Inclusion has been working in Madagascar for nearly 35 years and implements multiple projects. This work is particularly in aid of people with disabilities and highly vulnerable groups living in areas regularly devastated by cyclones and floods. Learn more about our work in Madagascar.

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  • Joint Statement on the temporary ceasefire in Yemen

    More than five years of brutal war in Yemen have left millions of Yemenis weakened by malnutrition and disease, and decimated Yemen’s health system. The imminent threat of COVID-19 will exacerbate an already dire humanitarian situation--80% of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance, the majority of whom are women and children; two-thirds of the country lacks adequate access to clean water and sanitation; millions are living on the brink of starvation; nearly 20 million people lack access to adequate healthcare; and cholera, dengue, and other preventable diseases are already rife. These factors create an environment dangerously conducive to the severe and rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, threatening countless civilian lives.

    Especially in light of this extraordinary threat, we, the undersigned NGOs, cautiously welcome the announcement by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of a temporary cessation of hostilities in YemenWe urge all parties to the conflict in Yemen to immediately halt fighting, to implement a ceasefire on the ground without delay, to release all detainees and those forcibly disappeared, and to work with the UN Special Envoy to urgently restart comprehensive and inclusive political negotiations to end the conflict.  

    A ceasefire alone cannot stop the spread of COVID-19 in Yemen. All parties must immediately lift restrictions and end interference with vital humanitarian operations; ensure immediate access to populations in need; facilitate the movement of humanitarian workers and goods and of commercial imports; and end blockades and other actions and policies that prevent or restrict essential commercial imports into Yemen, to maintain the humanitarian response for the millions of Yemenis who need aid to survive, and to support Yemenis’ economic livelihood. Yemeni civil society must also be supported to continue their essential role in responding to the crisis. Simultaneously, the international community must ramp up funding for the full range of humanitarian programming in Yemen. Amid this global pandemic, any suspension of life-saving assistance for Yemen, or politicization of humanitarian access and funding, will leave Yemen’s already vulnerable civilian population at heightened risk.

    A cessation of hostilities in Yemen can only be a first step. Yemenis need a durable ceasefire, a comprehensive and inclusive political settlement to the current conflict, unencumbered access to humanitarian aid and commercial imports, and accountability for the violations all sides have committed during this war. Yemen cannot wait any longer for an end to the conflict and humanitarian devastation that has ravaged the civilian population for over five years.

    Signed by:

    1. ACAT-France (Action by Christians Against Torture)
    2. Action against Hunger
    3. Action Corps
    4. Alliance for Peacebuilding
    5. Alliance internationale pour la défense des droits et des libertés (AIDL)
    6. ALQST for Human Rights
    7. Avaaz
    8. Bread for the World
    9. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    10. CARE International
    11. Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)
    12. Center for International Policy
    13. Center for Policy Analysis in Horn of Africa
    14. CIVICUS
    15. Cordaid - Catholic Organisation for Relief and Development
    16. Cure Violence Global
    17. Danish Refugee Council
    18. Dhameer for Rights and Freedoms
    19. Freedom Forward
    20. Friends Committee on National Legislation
    21. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
    22. Global Communities
    23. Humanity & Inclusion (the new name of Handicap International) 
    24. Human Rights First
    25. International Civil Society Action Network
    26. International Federation for Human Rights
    27. International Rescue Committee
    28. Islamic Relief Worldwide
    29. Karuna Center for Peacebuilding
    30. Médecins du Monde
    31. Mercy Corps
    32. Mothers of Abductees Association
    33. Musaala for Human Rights Organization
    34. Mwatana for Human Rights
    35. Norwegian Refugee Council
    36. Observatoire des armements
    37. Oxfam
    38. Pax Christi International
    39. Peace and Building Foundation
    40. Peace Direct
    41. Physicians for Human Rights
    42. Première Urgence Internationale
    43. Project on Middle East Democracy
    44. Refugees International
    45. Saferworld
    46. Salam for Yemen
    47. Search for Common Ground
    48. Solidarités International
    49. STAND: The student-led movement to end mass atrocities
    50. Students for Yemen
    51. Tearfund
    52. United Nations Association of the National Capital Area
    53. Watch for Human Rights
    54. Win Without War
    55. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
    56. Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation
    57. Yemen Solidarity Network
    58. Yemen Civil Alliance for Peacebuilding
    59. Yemeni Alliance Committee

  • Madagascar | Adapting projects and training beneficiaries to fight the spread of COVID-19

    Our team is taking special measures in Madagascar in response to the health emergency, following several confirmed cases of COVID-19. As part of two projects organized with CARE International and funded by the European Union, local relief teams are being trained to convey core prevention messages on the disease and to limit its spread. The teams are staffed by volunteers—men and women of all ages—including people with disabilities.

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    Relief teams adjust to the emergency

    The local relief teams involved in these two projects normally work on prevention and natural disaster and weather risk management, to help people develop responses to cyclones, floods, etc. One project targets more than 300,000 people, including 300 highly vulnerable families, 60 schools and 43 disaster risk management committees. Another targets 412,000 people, including older people and people with disabilities, along with 23 local organizations. Local relief teams are adjusting projects in order to raise awareness of the disease and teach others how to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19.

    Providing vital information

    We’re sharing essential information on the virus--its transmission, the symptoms, suspected cases and people at risk, but also social distancing, hand washing, routine prevention measures, practical advice and other ways of raising awareness of health and protection measures to combat COVID-19. Humanity & Inclusion is training the members of the local relief teams, teaching them how to protect themselves and raise awareness amongst the people they assist. The learning aids used, such as posters and leaflets, comply with international standards. Posters will be displayed in each sector of the village communities where we work and in schools supported by the project. Specific and adapted advices will be provided to those with specific communication needs, such as Deaf people, people with hearing disabilities, and those with visual disabilities.

    Training has already begun

    Training sessions have already begun in the regions of Boeny, Betsiboka and Diana, and particularly in the Fokontany of Ambalavola, in the urban district of Diego. Participants were asked to stay a minimum of one meter (3 feet) apart and to refrain from any physical contact. Although the twelve members of this local relief team are more familiar to sharing information about weather-related natural disaster risks, such as cyclones and floods, they understand the pressing need for this initiative, faced with the epidemic. Each member follows the news closely and takes their role seriously.

    A member of the local relief team and deputy head of the Ambalavola Fokontany, Paul has already begun raising awareness amongst the community. “At a gathering this morning, we asked beneficiaries to stay one meter (3 feet) apart. This training is very important because some information is not known here,” he explains. “The training allows us to separate the facts from the rumors and fake news circulating now, and to get across evidence-based, focused and comprehensive messages on how to prevent the disease. We also taught them new things, like hand-washing techniques. Now it is our turn to play our part.”


    Photo: A beneficiary holds a flyer in Madagascar that was created by Humanity & Inclusion to share awareness messages about fighting the spread of COVID-19.

  • Bangladesh | Supporting Rohingya refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Jean-Loup Gouot, Director of Humanity & Inclusion in Bangladesh, tells us more about our work in aid of Rohingya refugees in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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    “Nearly one third of our teams are continuing our ‘essential’ work and providing response to the COVID-19 epidemic. Other staff members have adopted alternative working methods—they work from home or do not work at the moment—and are ready to help if we need to beef up our emergency response.

    For people living in refugee camps and host communities, our teams organize awareness-raising sessions on good hygiene practices to stop the spread of COVID-19. We also identify people requiring medical care and refer them to partner organizations, and provide personal psychological support to the most vulnerable individuals—the Rohingya refugees who need it.

    Humanity & Inclusion has made two warehouses available—in Unchiprang and Dhumdumia—where national and international humanitarian organizations can store humanitarian equipment, a fleet of trucks can transport humanitarian aid such as hygiene kits and mobility aids, and relief for other organizations, to people living in hard-to-reach areas. We have noticed an increase in the number of trucks transporting specialized equipment in response to the coronavirus emergency.

    As many Humanity & Inclusion staff members are working from home or are temporarily off work, our human resources team has developed an online training platform to build the capacities of our national and international teams. Over the next few days, they will be able to access more than 150 compulsory, recommended or optional online training courses, including on the humanitarian response to COVID-19, which can also be accessed by other colleagues in Nepal.

    We aim to adapt our activities to assist Covid-19 victims and expect to launch a number of new projects very shortly.”


    Archive Photo: Humanity & Inclusion staff conduct an emergency intervention in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh in 2018.