24 May 2016 – A new charter to significantly improve living conditions of persons with disabilities during emergencies has been endorsed at the United Nations World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey.
“The intersection between humanitarian crises and persons with disabilities is very strong,” Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, told the UN News Centre on the margins of a special session at the Summit on ensuring disability-inclusive humanitarian action.
“Persons with disabilities are always left behind and the humanitarian response is very complicated because there is no planning to address their needs. We see that constantly – in armed conflict situations, and natural disasters,” she explained.
The Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action urges government representatives as well as leaders of non-governmental organizations and funding bodies to ensure that their future humanitarian actions will be inclusive of people with disabilities, based on five principals:
- non-discrimination and recognition of the diversity of people with disabilities;
- involvement of people with disabilities in developing humanitarian programs;
- ensuring services and humanitarian assistance are equally available for and accessible to all people with disabilities;
- implementation of inclusive global policies; and
- cooperation and coordination among humanitarian actors to improve inclusion of people with disabilities.
“For me, it was absolutely critical that I was [at the special session], because it reminded me of my responsibility as a citizen, and also as the Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to really put people with disabilities much closer to the center of everything we do. We must leave no one behind, and we must be inclusive,” said UN Special Advisor David Nabarro.
He noted that the endorsement of the charter shows there is “real commitment” to working to ensure that people with disabilities are much closer to the center of humanitarian action.
Speaking with the UN News Centre through an interpreter, Colin Allen, who will be the next chair of the International Disability Alliance (IDA), highlighted that the charter will help address the specific needs of many people, such as those who are deaf, blind, or both.