Following severe floods and landslides on July 27, Humanity & Inclusion is assisting people in Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.
Humanity & Inclusion is helping thousands of people in need following a powerful monsoon in Bangladesh, a situation complicated by a spike in Covid-19 infections. Eight of the 16 camps where Humanity & Inclusion teams are present are currently affected.
"As I speak, at least eight of the camps hosting refugees—members of the Rohingya minority from Myanmar—are literally drowning. They’ve been devastated by severe floods. Many makeshift shelters and huts, roads and facilities are under water. Several landslides have also been reported," says Rajesh Chandra, Humanity & Inclusion’s program manager in Bangladesh. “On top of this tragic situation, the Covid-19 pandemic is gaining ground: there has been a 20 percent increase in cases over the last two and a half months. The country is in lockdown, which is making it even harder for organizations like ours to provide emergency response.”
According to an initial estimate by Humanity & Inclusion’s teams, several dozen people participating in the organization’s ongoing programs, including people with disabilities, have already been directly affected by the disaster. A flash flood and landslide has caused a critical situation in one of the camps. It is impossible to reach some camps and the situation may spread to others if heavy rain continues.
Humanity & Inclusion teams have worked in the Rohingya refugee camps since 2017 and are actively working to respond to severe flooding affecting thousands of people, including people with disabilities, the elderly, women and children. The organization has deployed its mobile emergency teams in coordination with other actors in the camps. Staff are providing appropriate assistance to affected and injured people, including emergency rehabilitation care, such as care management, physical therapy, the supply of mobility aids and assistance with everyday tasks, as well as emergency psychosocial support and referral to protection services.
Teams are making a rapid assessment to determine the need for food, shelter, and the other essentials. Humanity & Inclusion will continuously adapt its actions to provide targeted and useful assistance to people with disabilities, aging people and the injured by providing them with personal protection or other assistive equipment.
Thanks to its contingency stock, Humanity & Inclusion is already distributing kits containing soap, towels, masks and other items to protect people from Covid-19.
Humanity & Inclusion is also sending a team of civil engineers to assess damage to facilities and houses to identify where repairs need to be made and what response is required.
More than 80 million people in the world are living forcibly displaced from their homes, according to the latest data from the UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency. That number has doubled over the last decade, skyrocketing in the last few years.
Violent conflicts, human rights violations, weather-related disasters and food insecurity are among key factors forcing people to flee their homes.
Among the 80 million people currently displaced, 45.7 million are displaced inside their home country. Humanitarian law differentiates between these individuals, who are referred to as internally displaced people, and refugees, who flee their home and cross a border to seek refuge in another country.
More than two-thirds of all refugees come from just five countries:
- Syria: 6.6 million
- Venezuela: 3.7 million
- Afghanistan: 2.7 million
- South Sudan: 2.3 million
- Myanmar: 1 million
More and more people are displaced for years. For example, the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya was established in 1992 and has grown akin to a small city. With more an 180,000 people living there, it is one of the world’s largest refugee camps. The camp is home to refugees from Sudan, Uganda, Eritrea, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Humanity & Inclusion works alongside people living in the camp and nearby host communities to provide physical rehabilitation services and assistive devices such as wheelchairs and crutches, and improve the living conditions of for refugees, in particular those with disabilities, by ensuring equal access to services, raising awareness of discrimination and building the capacity of staff working with refugees to assess needs.
Displacement of people with disabilities
Approximately 15% of the 80 million people displaced worldwide are living with a disability. Globally, an estimated 12 million people with disabilities have been forcibly displaced from their homes by conflict and persecution.
Forced displacement disproportionately affects people with disabilities, who are often at higher risk of violence, exploitation and abuse, and face barriers to basic services, education and employment.
Having left behind their homes and belongings, many displaced people—including those with disabilities—depend on humanitarian organizations like Humanity & Inclusion to access health care, food, water, shelter and other necessities.
Header image: A man carries his daughter, who is wearing leg braces, through a refugee settlement in Lebanon. They are Syrian refugees. Copyright: Kate Holt/HI, 2021
Inline image: An occupational therapist helps a boy with prosthetic legs use a walker during a rehabilitation session at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. Copyright: Patrick Meinhardt/HI, 2019
Nyaduoth, 16, has newfound freedom with her tricycle, along with the chance to go to school. She serves as a shining example to her fellow Nguenyyiel refugee community that with access, anything is possible.
"My life was bad before I met the Humanity & Inclusion team," Nyaduoth says. In fact, she doesn't really like to think about it.
The young girl could not move on her own, was not allowed to go to school, and her own mother believed her disability was a curse from God. Nyaduoth comes from Ochom, a town in South Sudan, and has been living in Ethiopia’s Nguenyyiel refugee camp for several years.
Her life changed when she first got a wheelchair from Humanity & Inclusion and then a tricycle—finally she could move around freely. The Humanity & Inclusion team later convinced her mother that children with disabilities should enroll in school. Thanks to psychosocial support, Nyaduoth has gained more confidence. She's also made friends. She helps her church community and, to her mother’s delight, is a diligent student.
Nyaduoth participates in all of Humanity & Inclusion’s community awareness raising events for disability rights and inclusion, where she boldly shares her own experience. She also works in community outreach for another organization, teaching people in the camp best hygiene practices.
She could only crawl across the floor, whether it was dry as dust or muddy. Going to the bathroom was especially difficult. Nyaduoth’s father died when she was 3, and her mother felt her child was a burden. The local school did not accept her either. Nyaduoth had no opportunity to interact with other children, to learn or to make friends.
A wheelchair from Humanity & Inclusion was her first step toward independence. Next, was training her family and community in understanding that Nyaduoth has the right to choose her path in life, and that children with disabilities must have equal rights, not be discriminated against. Nyaduoth received psychosocial support, a barrier-free toilet and a hand tricycle, with which she can be mobile all by herself.
“Thanks to the tricycle and the support of Humanity & Inclusion, I developed my self-confidence and can now ignore the barriers of my disability,” Nyaduoth explains.
Today, she is a role model for anyone living with a disability. She appears at events and shows that education with a disability is possible. And, her mother no longer equates disability with incapacity.
"I am so happy when I see my daughter moving independently from one place to another," says the mother of seven children.
Her daughter is growing just like all the other girls in the camp. Nyaduoth has a boyfriend, and the young couple has promised to get married and take care of one another.
Image: Nyaduoth sits in her hand-operated tricycle outside her home in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. Copyright: Till Mayer/HI
Humanity & Inclusion is training refugees in the Congolese and Burundian camps on how to make money from waste materials.
Since 2016, Humanity & Inclusion teams in Rwanda have been strengthening environmental protection actions in Congolese and Burundian refugee camps by initiating an Appropriate Paper Technology (APT):
This program helps community members transform waste paper, such as cardboard, into useful products that can be used for commercial purposes. Humanity & Inclusion also teaches them how to recycle waste paper to produce equipment for rehabilitation.
Humanity & Inclusion has trained at least 210 refugees to manufacture rehabilitation equipment including special chairs, corner seats and standing frames. Refugees also produce chairs, stools, cupboards, ceilings, tables to build and equip their homes.
Thanks to the initiative, waste paper is better managed in the overcrowded camps and its impact on health and environment is reduced. It also creates an opportunity for families to generate income and improve their daily routine.
Image: A woman holds a piece of cardboard on a table while a man slices it with a box cutter in Rwanda in 2019. Copyright: Neil Thomas/HI
Saisa developed such serious health issues after being pricked by a poisonous thorn that her leg had to be amputated. Humanity & Inclusion is providing rehabilitation and psychosocial support for Saisa.
Saisa, 10, was attending a birthday party in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya last year when she was pricked on the left foot by a poisonous thorn. After a week of traditional treatment, Saisa’s condition continue to worsen. Her leg was turning black and her skin was peeling. Her mother took her to the International Rescue Committee hospital, where doctors determined Saisa was experienced gangrene. She was admitted to the hospital and, two days later, her leg was amputated.
After surgery, Humanity & Inclusion’s pediatric rehabilitation workers worked with Saisa to shape her stump, help her manage phantom pain and teach her exercises to expand her range of motion. She also received psychosocial support to process the trauma and grief of losing her leg.
Saisa continues to receive care at Humanity & Inclusion’s rehabilitation center in the refugee camp, focusing on physical exercises to strengthen her muscles and train her balance, as well as psychosocial support to improve her self-esteem.
Soon, Saisa will be equipped with a prosthetic leg. In the meantime, Saisa has learned to walk with crutches. Saisa’s parents and her six siblings are also learning about the stages of grief so they can support Saisa on her journey to recovery.
“Saisa can finally go out and play with her friends without my supervision,” says Rihad, Saisa’s mother. “In the hospital, I was stressed and I thought my daughter had become useless. I never knew that someone would help me. When I went home, the Humanity & Inclusion people came to my house and now my daughter is a person again.”
When schools reopened this year, Humanity & Inclusion made sure Saisa was transferred to an inclusive school within her neighborhood. Her confidence is growing each day, and she has big dreams for her future.
“I want to be a businesswoman when I grow up and sell many things,” Saisa says. “I am very happy that I can go to school now.”
Image: A young girl named Saisa uses crutches as she walks with her friends at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. Copyright: HI
In Pakistan, Humanity & Inclusion continues to run programs under the operating name "Handicap International."
Humanity & Inclusion in Pakistan
Our teams have been present in Pakistan since the early 1980s to late the 1990s, addressing the needs of Afghans refugees. Today our mission has evolved to include issues that emerge from natural disasters as well as supporting people with disabilities and internally displaced individuals.
Along with the country's persistent conflict with the bordering nations, Pakistan is regularly affected by natural disasters. In 2005, an earthquake displaced three million people, and in 2010 more than 20 million people were affected by severe flooding.
Areas of Intervention
- Inclusive education
- Health and prevention
- Disaster risk reduction
- Gender and women's rights
- Disability rights advocacy
Knowing the gaps in service and needs in Pakistan and based on evaluation of more than 30 years delivering development projects in Pakistan, Humanity & Inclusion developed a 5-Year Country Program Framework in 2016 being implemented by our team.
Since 2009, Humanity & Inclusion has been supporting internally displaced people in the northern and southern regions of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Our Past Work
Humanity & Inclusion has been working in Pakistan to foster an inclusive culture and to meet the dynamic needs of communities where we serve.
Read on to learn more about our past work in Pakistan, and consider investing in our future.
Growing Together Project
From 2016 through 2020, the organization’s Growing Together project, supported by IKEA Foundation, developed accessible and secure play areas for children in refugee camps in Thailand, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
In 2014 and 2015, Humanity & Inclusion implemented two short-term projects focused on increasing access to basic life-saving services for people with disabilities and aging people in Bannu, Lakki Marwat and Karak. More than 9,000 people, particularly persons with disabilities, their caregivers and service providers, were reached.
The Syria Crisis
Jordan hosts more than 672,000 Syrian refugees fleeing conflict. Many arrive having experienced grievous injuries and mental trauma.
In April 2014, a survey conducted in Lebanon and Jordan by Humanity & Inclusion, working in collaboration with HelpAge International, found that 5.7% of refugees–more than 90,000 people–had serious injuries. Moreover, in three out of four cases these injuries will lead to a permanent disability due to their severity and the lack of medical attention. Read the Hidden victims of the Syrian crisis report.
Help Syrian refugees—including those with disabilities and injuries—today.
Humanity & Inclusion in Jordan
Humanity & Inclusion has operated in Jordan since 2006. Our 48-person team provides rehabilitation services to people with disabilities or those injured during the Syrian conflict who have fled to Jordan. Across the country, the organization promotes better recognition of the rights of people with disabilities through inclusive education and livelihood projects.
Areas of Intervention
- Early detection of disabilities
- Inclusive humanitarian action
- Inclusive employment
- Inclusive education
- Disability rights advocacy
Since the summer of 2012, Humanity & Inclusion has been working alongside Syrian refugees and people with disabilities in Jordan.
The organization provides rehabilitation services, including physical therapy and orthopedic equipment services, to people with disabilities or injuries at partner hospitals. The team also provides training to local staff in rehabilitation, as well as mental health and psychosocial support.
Humanity & Inclusion also focus on early detection and early intervention of disabilities among children in order to mitigate the risks of complications. With local partners, teams provide better access to education for all and job opportunities for youth with disabilities. At the end of 2021, the team started inclusive education activities targeting early childhood education.
Humanity & Inclusion is deeply concerned about the safety of civilians and humanitarian aid workers. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Humanity & Inclusion's teams have been working tirelessly with Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq. Our rehabilitation experts provide vital care—physical therapy, psychosocial support, mobility devices, etc.—to injured Syrian civilians and those with disabilities. March 15, 2022, marks 11 years of conflict in Syria.
When war comes to cities, civilians need your help. Today, more than ever, your support is essential. Make a gift today.
Humanity & Inclusion in the Syrian Crisis
Since the summer of 2012, Humanity & Inclusion has deployed rehabilitation teams and partners to help Syrians in Jordan and Lebanon. According to UNHCR, 6.6 million Syrians have been displaced internally, and more than 5.6 million people have fled Syria to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and other countries.
Now a decade after the start of the current crisis, Syria is bogged down in a bloody conflict that has claimed more than 450,000 lives. Fighting is taking place in residential areas, with no distinction made between civilian and military targets.
In many parts of the country, health facilities have been driven underground, with scant resources to cope with the constant influx of injured people.
Our Current Work
In the Syrian crisis, Humanity & Inclusion continues to diligently carry out its mission, which is to:
- Provide rehabilitation services
- Distribute aid
- Facilitate risk education
- Ensure refugees with disabilities have access to basic services
Humanity & Inclusion helps hospitals and clinics care for injured refugees by supplying rehabilitation equipment and organizing physical therapy sessions for patients.
The organization supports vulnerable refugee families through distributions of food and hygiene items.
Risk education teams educate Syrians about the dangers posed by explosive remnants of war. In particular, children are taught how to identify and avoid ordnance.
Ensure People with Disabilities Have Access to Services
Humanity & Inclusion works in close collaboration with local and international organizations to ensure that services for refugees are accessible to people with reduced mobility.
In Iraq, Humanity & Inclusion continues to run programs under the operating name "Handicap International."
Humanity & Inclusion in Iraq
Our team has operated in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991, focusing efforts on emergency response initiatives, rehabilitation, and support for Organizations for People with Disabilities (OPDs or DPOs).
Iraqi Kurdistan is largely populated by ethnic Kurds who have sought independence from Iraq for decades. Kurdish rebellions in 1988 and 1991 were brutally suppressed by Saddam Hussein. Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, a Kurdish semi-autonomous government was formalized.
According to UNHCR, as of December 2018, Iraq hosts nearly 3.1 million displaced Iraqis, making living conditions extremely precarious. Another 260,000 Iraqis are displaced in other regions, in addition to more than 283,000 Syrian refugees currently in the country.
Our Current Work
In addition to addressing the issues that emerged from the fall of Mosul in June 2014, Humanity & Inclusion employs a team of 140 national staff and 25 expatriates in Iraq who work diligently to:
- Respond to emergencies deriving from the Syrian/Iraqi crisis
- Provide rehabilitation services
- Support Organizations for People with Disabilities
- Clear landmines
- Facilitate risk education
Emergency Response: Syrian/Iraqi Crisis
In partnership with the Danish Refugee Council, this project aims to improve access to camp facilitates and the inclusion of people with disabilities in humanitarian relief efforts.
Our team works to effectively:
- Identify needs
- Assess and refer the most vulnerable refugees
- Create income-generating opportunities
- Raise awareness
- Ensure facilities are physically accessible
Humanity & inclusion also works to provide services to internally displaced persons in Iraq, including rehabilitation, and education sessions on the risks posed by unexploded remnants of war.
Fixed and mobile disability teams provide injured and disabled refugees and displaced people with physical therapy, mobility devices, orthoses and prostheses, and psychosocial support.
Support to Organizations for People with Disabilities
Humanity & Inclusion facilitates collaboration between Syrian and Iraqi DPOs and activists in order to ensure all parties are able to play a role in an inclusive democratic transition to the greatest extent possible.
This project includes professional training and other capacity building activities, as well as micro-financing opportunities.
In Iraq, explosive remnants of war pollute the land. Our teams have intervened to make contaminated ground safe to help displaced people return to their villages.
Risk education teams visit displaced people in camps and urban areas to educate them about the dangers posed by explosive remnants of war.
In Bangladesh, Humanity & Inclusion continues to run programs under the operating name "Handicap International."
Humanity & Inclusion in Bangladesh
Humanity & Inclusion has been working in Bangladesh since 1997 to promote inclusion of people with disabilities. Since 2017, Humanity & Inclusion has provided support to more than 30,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar.
One of the poorest countries in the world, it is estimated that more than half of Bangladesh's population lives below the poverty line. Facing monsoons, cyclones and devastating floods, between 50% and 70% of the land is submerged under water every year, destroying harvests, homes and livestock.
Areas of Intervention
- Rehabilitation, prosthetics and orthotics
- Fighting discrimination against people with disabilities
- Inclusive employment
- Inclusive education
Responding to the influx of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing neighboring Myanmar since August 2017, Humanity & Inclusion's 286-person team provides emergency response to supply aid to people who are living in extremely difficult circumstances. The organization has provided rehabilitation care and psychological support to thousands of people. Humanity & Inclusion has made available storage centers and a fleet of trucks, transporting humanitarian equipment for Humanity & inclusion and other organizations. The team has also distributed hygiene kits, food rations and accommodation kits.
Humanity & Inclusion also works in Bangladesh to promote inclusion of people with disabilities, supporting their access to services such as rehabilitation and employment. The organization advocates alongside people with disabilities to ensure access to a source of income which gives them financial independence and means they are better accepted within their communities.
The organization also improves access to education for all children, including children with disabilities, in camps for Rohingya refugees. Humanity & Inclusion trains teachers to include children with disabilities in schools, organizes rehabilitation sessions for children with disabilities and raises community awareness of the right of children to education. To improve the social inclusion and education of boys and girls with disabilities, Humanity & Inclusion organizes recreational activities, including in schools and sports clubs, to promote social inclusion and interaction with each other in a safe environment.
Our Past Work
Humanity & Inclusion has been in Bangladesh since 1997, promoting an inclusive culture for ALL people with disabilities and who are vulnerable. Over time, our work has evolved to meet the dynamic needs of the communities where we serve.
Read on to learn more about our past work in Bangladesh and consider investing in our future.
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. From 2016 to 2020, Humanity & Inclusion led the Growing Together project, supported by IKEA Foundation, which enabled thousands of children to learn by playing in secure environments in refugee camps in Thailand, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Partnering with Bangladesh Legal Aid Services (BLAST), Humanity & Inclusion built the capacities of national and local legal service providers in order to improve access to legal assistance for people with disabilities.
Assistance to the Survivors of the Rana Plaza Collapse
As a result of the devastating collapse of the Rana Plaza Building in Dhaka in 2013, Humanity & Inclusion provided physical therapy to people with disabilities who were affected by the incident.
The organization has also put in place a sustainable socio-economic recovery project that facilitates employment for those who lost their jobs in as a result of the collapse.
Disability Resource Center
The Dhaka Center for Services and Information on Disability (CSID) is providing people with disabilities internet access to promote the rights of people with disabilities. HI is working with CSID to ensure that some 2,500 people with disabilities can access the data and share it with decision-makers, program directors, researchers, students, and other people with disabilities.
Community Based Rehabilitation
Humanity & Inclusion launched a project in 2011 that aimed to strengthen the skills of community based rehabilitation professionals.
In the county, 35 local community-based organizations have improved their knowledge of community-based rehabilitation.
Maternal and Newborn Health
Humanity & Inclusion's team helped to ensure safe pregnancy and childbirth for mothers. The organization worked with fathers to raise awareness of their role in improving the health of mothers and children in refugee communities in Bangladesh.