A 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit Pakistan's Jhelum city in the province of Punjab Tuesday, Sept. 24, killing at least 38 people and injuring 646. Humanity & Inclusion plans to offer its expertise in post-earthquake response, and is currently evaluating of the needs of the more than 7,000 families affected.
Pakistan Authorities are addressing immediate emergency needs, distributing 570 tents, 1,000 blankets and 21 tons of food items. However many needs are still not covered, particularly for 500 severely injured people in need of trauma care and physical rehabilitation.
HI has been working alongside the government since the quake, and will carry out a specific needs assessment in Mirpur (Azad Jammu & Kashmir), on Saturday, Sept. 28.
Based on our experience in past emergencies, we expect that needs may include physical rehabilitation. “Following earthquakes, people who suffer from traumas, such as crushing, fractures and spinal injuries caused by collapsing buildings, need specific care," explains Mehdi Iken, Pakistan Country Director. "Our physical therapists regularly take over from surgeons in hospitals and provide post-operative care and rehabilitation sessions to limit the onset of disabling consequences of an injury.”
It's possible that Humanity & Inclusion will provide psychosocial support, and protection and inclusion services. The local team, which has worked in Pakistan since the 1980s, hopes to work with all actors to ensure that people with disabilities, and vulnerable groups have fair access to humanitarian assistance.
Photo: JATLAN, PAKISTAN—A view of a badly damaged house days after a powerful earthquake with magnitude of 5.8 hit the area in Jatlan town in the Mirpur District in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, on September 26, 2019.
Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province sits adjacent to the Afghan border. Since the early 1980s, it's been home to unrest, religious extremism, and conflicts. These have had profound influences on local society. Among the most heartbreaking: children left with no safe places to play.
But recently it was the scene of a great celebration. At the center of a crowd stood nine-year old Shayan Khan, a boy with disability, and an active member of one of Humanity & Inclusion's children's clubs. Leaning on his crutch, he used his free hand to reach above his head to cut a bright red ribbon. The area's first playground was open!
The children rushed onto the playground! "The fact that they ignored the food and just wanted to make pots of clay, try out the truck tires and the swings, and run around, is the best evidence of success you can have," notes Tabriz Shamsi, program officer for Humanity & Inclusion Pakistan.
“It was a bit of a challenge when it came to acquiring land that had easy access for all children and that was secure. We found a land in Jalozai, next to an orphanage known as Rashid Shaheed Foundation. The owner of the orphanage donated the land and HI teams constructed the playground with help of community members. The 200 children of the orphanage will each plant a tree to build a natural wall of protection around the playground.”
A powerful idea: inclusion
The inclusive playground does more than give kids a safe place to play. It's also introducing the idea of inclusion and helping parents and civil society understand that children with disabilities and those with developmental delays can also play—especially when playgrounds are inclusive.
“This is a big step forward," says Tabriz. "In this region, children with disabilities are generally kept at home. Parents and local organizations have a charity-based approach towards children with disabilities, meaning they are the passive recipients of aid. The idea of inclusion is rather new.
“We are very pleased that the opening ceremony was attended by high officials from several departments and by community personnel. The speeches had sign language interpretation, and stressed the importance of inclusion. The biggest moment was, of course, when Shayan cut the ribbon."
The playground construction is part of HI’s Growing Together Project that is financed by Ikea Foundation. Through play, the project aims to improve the lives of vulnerable children in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Thailand, including children with disabilities. Jalozai once held one of Pakistan's biggest refugee camps, and is still home many internally displaced families. The Growing Together project targets vulnerable children from those displaced families and from permanent residents.
HI is constructing five more playgrounds. The team continues to offer a range of activities for children, parents, the community, and local organizations, in order to promote inclusion and play. These actions support early child development, because play is a fundamental right and is essential for a child’s physical and mental health. The project also has set up children’s clubs where children of all abilities can play, learn and grow together.
Rehabilitation Literature Review | Medical rehabilitation of spinal cord injury following earthquakes (2013)
This literature review examined spinal cord injury survivors of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake in Pakistan, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
The effects of an earthquake in an urban area can be devastating. Often much is destroyed, including signiﬁcant materials and human public health infrastructures, communication and transportation networks, as well as medical facilities. There are also vast individual risk factors to be conscious of, including pre-existing disabilities, extremes of age, chronic illness, and lack of mobility.
Proper care and knowledge regarding spinal cord injuries is critical in any emergency response, such as an earthquake; on-scene spinal immobilization, intravenous access and maintenance of cervical alignment are critical. In addition, rapid referral to a multidisciplinary care facility with appropriate rehabilitation services is essential.
Download the report:
Violence affects one in three women in their lifetime. Globally, women with disabilities are ten times more likely to experience sexual violence. Over the next three weeks, Humanity & Inclusion will address the violence against women with disabilities at the 71st session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, organized by the United Nations in Geneva from October 22 through November 9.
25 years of work
Humanity & Inclusion implements projects to address violence in six countries around the world by raising women's awareness of their rights and helping them build self-reliance. In Rwanda, HI provides psychological support to victims of physical and sexual violence, including women, and organizes discussion groups. In Rwanda, Burundi, and Kenya, our team works to combat sexual violence against children, including children with disabilities, who are three to four times more likely to be at risk of violence.
Making it Work
HI launched the Making it Work Gender and Disability project to promote good practices in order to eliminate violence against women and girls with disabilities. The aim is to ensure that women's voices are heard and that the risks they face (violence, abuse, and exploitation) are taken into account in the projects implemented by other organizations in the fields of humanitarian action, human rights, feminism, and gender-based violence.
Gender and disability intersectionality in practice: Women and girls with disabilities addressing discrimination and violence in Africa
In June 2018, Humanity & Inclusion's Making it Work project published the report, “Gender and disability intersectionality in practice: Women and girls with disabilities addressing discrimination and violence in Africa,” which presents nine best practices for women’s organizations in six African countries. Women leaders with disabilities presented the report at the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York.
Humanity & Inclusion works to prevent violence based on disability, gender and age and its disabling consequences in development and fragile settings, as well as to provide holistic care for survivors of violence, exploitation and abuse. HI’s goal is to ensure that people with disabilities and other at-risk groups are less exposed to violence and can live in dignity, independently, and with control over their own lives. View the flier here.
This committee is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
 Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
As part of the Growing Together project, supported by the IKEA Foundation, Handicap International promotes early detection, stimulation, and rehabilitation sessions for children to prevent the onset of disabilities and improve their living conditions in refugee camps in Bangladesh, Thailand, and Pakistan. Our teams teach parents, caregivers, and community volunteers how to stimulate young children and promote healthy habits through play and daily activities.Read more
Humanity & Inclusion is committed to supporting people who are fleeing conflict and natural disaster. Whether they are sheltering within their own countries or residing in countries of first asylum as refugees, our teams are hard at work providing basic and specific aid to people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups. Read about our work with refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) as well as our other projects in the 11 countries below.
This life-saving work is possible thanks to the generous support of our donors, as well as key funding agencies such as the U.S. Department of State, IKEA Foundation, among others.
Humanity & Inclusion is an impartial, international aid organization, and we act where needs are greatest. We do not work on refugee resettlement.
In Pakistan, more than 1 million people are internally displaced, meaning that many families with children are moving back and forth between their region of origin, IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps and host communities.Read more
Child refugees will enjoy inclusive playgrounds thanks to new Handicap International and IKEA Foundation partnership
Growing up in a refugee camp is incredibly difficult, especially if you're a child with a disability. Play is a fundamental right for all children, including refugees. That’s why the IKEA Foundation is supporting Growing Together, a new Handicap International project that gives displaced children in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Thailand the right to be a child.
Handicap International is one of six partners for the new Let's Play for Change campaign, which begins on Children’s Rights Day, Nov. 20. For every children’s book and toy sold in IKEA stores between today and Dec. 24, the IKEA Foundation will donate $1 to support children’s right to play.
“Sadly, many refugee children don’t have the opportunity to be a child,” says Cheryl Shin-Hua Yeam, Handicap International’s regional technical coordinator of the new Growing Together project. "Their right to play is often undermined or not prioritized,” even though the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child should have the right to play.
Play is incredibly important. "Play makes children happy and healthy," Cheryl adds. "It allows them to learn, improves their self-esteem, and helps them to develop important life skills such as empathy, communication, and resilience to stress.”
Handicap International’s Growing Together project directly addresses this pressing issue. Over a four-year period, the project, financed by the IKEA Foundation, will empower children seeking refuge in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Thailand. Staff will create inclusive playgrounds, where vulnerable refugee children can feel safe and develop through an approach that is natural to them: play.
“This will promote their well being and help their personal development to flourish,” Cheryl adds. “Child friendly spaces give refugee children the opportunity to share traumatizing experiences with a professional as well as with each other. Children feel safe. They can relax, smile, play, and just be a child again - essential elements for their mental and physical health.”
Play also helps refugee children address their reality in a productive manner. ”For refugee children, play is a basic need,” Cheryl says. ”What’s more, play is an important tool for them to deal with their difficult situation. Because being a child in a refugee camp doesn’t come easy. Having fled war and violence, refugee children have to deal with difficult backgrounds and face poor living conditions. Play can help them to work through some of their issues and to be a child.”
In Mae La Refugee Camp (Thailand), 40,000 refugees share just one soccer field. “We have no place to play,” says Eike, a ten-year-old who lives in the camp. “We play around the house or around the nearby temple, but that’s far from ideal. And we have no toys.”
Children with disabilities even more excluded from play
According to research from the IKEA Foundation, the funding partner of the Growing Together project, children with mental and physical disabilities are often the most likely to be excluded from play and learning activities. Handicap International, which has been working in refugee camps for 30 years, confirms this. “You don’t see children with disabilities play,” Cheryl says.
“Our safe spaces will be accessible and inclusive so that children of all kinds can come together and learn together: children with and without disabilities, children with learning disorders, mental problems, children who are chronically ill, so on.”
In Mae La Camp in Thailand, on the border of Myanmar, there’s one football field for 40,000 refugees. The narrow steep paths, filled with holes and loose rocks, make it extremely hard for children with disabilities to find a place to play.
The Growing Together project runs for four years, and will empower 13,000 vulnerable boys and girls (0-18 years old) and their families in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Thailand.
Besides the creation of inclusive, educational playgrounds, the project will also pay attention to the youngest children who are at risk of developmental delays. Thanks to early detection and rehabilitation, some disabilities can be prevented, and the lives of children with long-term disabilities can be made more fulfilling. In a safe environment, parents and caregivers will learn how they can support their child to develop and be more independent.
At the same time, the project will engage with local child development service providers to be more responsive to the needs of disabled and vulnerable children, and it will help these organizations implement measures to facilitate the inclusion of these children in schools and communities. The collaboration with local organizations will help ensure the sustainability of the project.
WHERE: FORGOTTEN REFUGEE CAMPS
The refugee camps in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Thailand remain largely forgotten by the world, despite their decades-old existence. Living conditions in the camps are alarming. In Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world, stateless Rohingya refugees struggle to survive, while living in squalid conditions, vulnerable to disease and exploitation. They are categorically denied legal protection and humanitarian assistance. In the Jalozai refugee camp in Pakistan, people face harsh weather conditions, children suffer from poor health, and many people are depressed since they have little to do but stand in line for food distributions. Depression is also very common in the Karen refugee camps in Thailand (Myanmar border), where an estimated 111,000 people rely heavily on humanitarian assistance. Many people were born in the camps and have never set foot outside.
HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL’S EXPERIENCE
Thanks to its work in refugee camps all over the world, Handicap International brings a wealth of experience to the Growing Together project and an extensive knowledge of the region.
Handicap International was founded in Thailand in 1982, to help Cambodian refugees that were injured by landmines. Two years later, our work expanded along the border with Myanmar. In Pakistan since the early 1980s, Handicap International first supported Afghan refugees – today, our work involves helping people who are vulnerable to natural and human disasters. Handicap International has been present in Bangladesh since 1997. Our past actions are an excellent starting point for the Growing Together project: providing community-based rehabilitation, empowering people with disabilities, and supporting their inclusion in local communities.
Also, play has always been an important element in our rehabilitation approach, for it stimulates children to do their exercises and helps them to improve their strength, flexibility, motor skills, and mobility.
FINANCED BY IKEA FOUNDATION
The Growing Together project is financed by IKEA Foundation (the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group of companies), and supported by IKEA’s new good cause campaign: Let’s Play for Change. For every children’s book and toy sold in an IKEA store between November 20 and December 24, 2016, the IKEA Foundation will donate €1 to support the Growing Together project and the projects of five other partner organizations.
More info: www.ikeafoundation.org
Already present in the field, Handicap International’s teams are ready to launch an emergency response after a violent 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit Afghanistan and Pakistan today, October 26. According to initial estimates, dozens of people have been killed and hundreds have been injured at the epicenter in Badakhshan, a mountainous area of the Hindu Kush, 106 miles from Kabul.Read more
In Pakistan, Humanity & Inclusion continues to run programs under the operating name "Handicap International."
Present in Pakistan since the early 1980s, Handicap International launched emergency responses following the country's 2005 earthquake and 2010 flooding. Teams are still working to improve the living conditions of those affected by natural disasters, especially people with disabilities. Today, our work focuses on natural disaster risk management and meeting the needs of people displaced by fighting in tribal areas in the northwest of the country. Handicap International currently employs 33 local staff members and three expatriate staff members in Pakistan.
Pakistan is increasingly and regularly hit by natural disasters. In 2005, an earthquake killed more than 70,000 people and displaced 3 million others from their homes. In 2010, unprecedented flooding affected more than 20 million people. Similar disasters occur every year; in 2014, nearly 3,500 villages were destroyed, affecting some two million people.
Armed conflict in northwest Pakistan is forcing civilians to flee conflict zones and take refuge in neighboring areas. According to UNHCR, as of July 2017, Pakistan is home to nearly 1 million refugees and more than 449,000 internally displaced people (IDPs). Displaced populations include children, women, older people, and people with disabilities, made even more vulnerable by these disasters, and often forced to live in deplorable sanitary conditions. As of July 2014, 929,000 people displaced from North Waziristan were recorded in neighboring districts; 43% were children, 30% were women, and 23% were disabled.
Natural Disaster Risk Management
Handicap International is working with the population of Sindh province, where there is a high risk of flooding, to identify solutions to mitigate the risks and consequences of climate-related disasters. Communities are encouraged to perform their own natural disaster risk evaluations and implement evacuation plans that include people with disabilities, and preventive measures such as alert systems and food stockpiling. In developing this project, Handicap International encourages the active participation of people with disabilities of all kinds and seeks to build solidarity between different communities.
Handicap International works to ensure the inclusion and participation of people with disabilities by training people within the Khyber Pakhtybkhwa province to provide services for individuals with disabilities. These trainings include information on disability, rehabilitation, and awareness raising. The project directly benefits 2,150 people and indirectly impacts 129,500 displaced families and host families in the region.
Growing Together Project
Children with disabilities remain one of the most marginalized groups in the country and very few attend school. As an invisible and stigmatized group, they are more exposed to abuse, exploitation, and negligence. Since 2016 and for a period of four years, the organization’s Growing Together project, supported by IKEA Foundation, will develop accessible and secure play areas for children in refugee camps in Thailand, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. This project will enable 13,000 children with and without disabilities to play, learn and grow up together in a secure and inclusive environment.