On November 12, the humanitarian community welcomed the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action at a launch event in New York City. The professional strategies and practical guidance aims to improve the inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian aid delivery and ensure the participation of persons with disabilities.
Barriers to access humanitarian aid
When people with disabilities are caught in a crisis, they are often disproportionately at risk and exposed to exploitation, violence, and criminal acts. During displacement, for example they are at risk of losing assets, are not having fair access to the emergency infrastructure put in place or access to information on security and protection. People with disabilities are often 'left on the sidelines' when assessing needs or planning aid provision. They face many obstacles to access humanitarian aid.
The first of their kind, the Guidelines will assist humanitarian actors like Humanity & Inclusion (co-coordinators of the guidelines), governments and affected communities to coordinate, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate essential actions for the full and effective participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all sectors and in all phases of humanitarian action.
The Guidelines were developed during a three-year multi-stakeholder consultation process. The project was led by people with disabilities and their respective organizations in partnership with humanitarian stakeholders and more than 600 experts. A Task Team, established in July 2016, was led by Humanity & Inclusion, the International Disability Alliance (IDA), and UNICEF.
Growing interest for inclusion
Humanitarian organizations have shown a growing interest in ensuring that people with disabilities be included, but they need to further develop practical tools and build on the skills of front-line staff to identify and properly include people with disabilities in emergency preparedness and response services. Oftentimes, staff need additional training or support to identify and accommodate the needs of people with disabilities and to not only remove barriers, but also make use of their abilities.