Crisis and armed conflict hit people with disabilities harder

a woman in a wheelchair is carried by soldiers over a destroyed bridge in Kyiv, Ukraine

Over half of all people with disabilities in the world live in countries affected by crises and conflicts. Crises and conflicts hit people with disabilities particularly hard. 

Persons with disabilities are at greater risk of injury or death in armed conflicts and other humanitarian disasters. Many do not have the opportunity to quickly participate in evacuations and news and information is rarely available in formats that are accessible to the deaf, hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired. Persons with intellectual disabilities are often completely excluded from explanations and information about what is happening and how they can protect themselves.

Not infrequently, persons with disabilities are also exposed to targeted attacks, various forms of abuse and exploitation, including sexual violence. Sexual abuse and violence often continue long after the crisis itself is over.

The material and social disturbances that arise in connection with wars and conflicts affect many persons with disabilities extra hard when, for example, the physical accessibility of a society is destroyed. Many need health care and basic community services that are often completely destroyed.

People with disabilities are often excluded in connection with humanitarian efforts and in peace processes. A problem in international work is that many organizations do not even investigate whether or how people with disabilities are included in work during war, conflict or peace processes. 

The situation in the world

15 percent of the world's population live with a disability.

Persons with disabilities run a greater risk than others to be harmed in crises.

Mortality during crises and conflicts for persons with disabilities is four times higher than for those without disabilities.

10 million persons with disabilities have been forced to flee due to armed conflict and persecution.

Children with disabilities are at greater risk of abuse or being abandoned during crises and conflicts than children without disabilities.

One girl drives another girl in a wheelchair.

Lack of gender equality increases exclusion

Women with disabilities are at risk of being discriminated against both because of their gender and their disability. All MyRight projects and programs have a comprehensive gender equality perspective.

Girls and women are particularly vulnerable in crises and disasters

One in five women in the world is estimated to have a disability. In low- and middle-income countries, three quarters of those living with disabilities are estimated to be women.

Young women and girls with disabilities suffer from gender-based violence up to ten times more often than young women and girls without any disabilities. Girls and boys with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities are particularly vulnerable. They are four times more likely to suffer from sexual and gender-based violence than children without disabilities. In addition, these children are almost three times more likely to be exposed to sexual violence.

Women and girls with disabilities are often excluded from interventions during and after crises and conflicts. Lack of accessibility in society together with cultural and social factors causes double discrimination.

In connection with humanitarian crises, such as armed conflicts and disasters, violence and sexual abuse often continue even after the crisis itself is over. Sexual and gender-based violence is generally high in countries with a high level of general violence, but it can also be high in countries with a relatively low level of violence.

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Peace for all - inclusion of persons with disabilities in peace processes

Only 6.6 percent (118/1789) of all peace agreements worldwide mention persons with disabilities. Therefore, there is also a lack of a plan for how this target group is to be included in the implementation of peace-building activities.

In the report "Peace for all – Inclusion of persons with disabilities in peacebuilding" (2020), MyRight gathers knowledge and experiences about current policies, strategies and methods within various parts of the international community regarding the inclusion of persons with disabilities in peace processes and initiatives. Read more about the report here.

The report's recommendations are summarized in the film Peace for all. See all available versions here.

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Read the international report with examples from several countries.

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