What is it?
People with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which may hinder their full and effective participation in society.
As stated in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, disability is an evolving concept which “results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”.
People with disabilities often face barriers that prevent their full access to humanitarian assistance and protection. Disability inclusion, therefore, aims to consider the specific needs of persons with disabilities to ensure their full participation in humanitarian action.
Why is this important?
Despite gaining prominence over recent years, disability inclusion in humanitarian action remains insufficient.
It is estimated that 15% of the global population have a disability, a proportion which is likely to sharply rise in humanitarian crises. Yet, ways of delivering assistance and protection to persons with disabilities in humanitarian settings remain insufficiently adapted.
Due to discrimination and environmental, physical, economic and social barriers, people with disabilities are more likely to be excluded in emergency responses and humanitarian services. They also face additional threats and vulnerabilities.
To ensure their full inclusion and participation in humanitarian action, the specific needs of people with disabilities need to be considered. The barriers they face need to be removed, reduced and their impact mitigated through protective factors and enablers permitting access to and participation in humanitarian assistance and protection.
How are we helping?
The EU is party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2010) and has endorsed the World Humanitarian Summit’s Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action (2016).
In 2019, the EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department published operational guidelines on disability inclusion. Their purpose is to ensure that the needs of disabled people are taken into consideration in all projects supported by EU humanitarian aid.
The guidelines provide tools to assess and remove the barriers preventing meaningful access and full and effective participation of disabled people in humanitarian assistance and protection. The aim is to lead to better programme quality and improved, safer and more accessible services, assistance and protection for persons with disabilities in humanitarian operations.
In 2021, the EU published a new European Disability Strategy. The Strategy commits to ensure that the needs of persons with disabilities are adequately addressed in EU-funded humanitarian aid, through the involvement of persons with disabilities, cooperating with civil society and supporting capacity building.
The EU committed to strengthening its data collection on persons with disabilities in EU-funded humanitarian aid, for example by promoting the use of the Washington Short Set of Questions, a set of questions designed to identify people with functional limitations.
The Strategy states that attention must be paid to children and young people with disabilities, especially in conflict and post-conflict societies or developing countries, where protection, access to school and basic services are often lacking. The strategy refers to the Third Gender Action Plan as well as the EU Action Plan for Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024.
In 2021, the EU provided €73.6 million to projects targeting, alongside other aims, the needs of persons with disabilities.
In addition, we have also funded 232 projects where disability inclusion was one of the main focus areas of the project. We have targeted a variety of sectors including healthcare, protection, shelter, water, sanitation, and education.
Recent examples of EU-funded actions with disability inclusion as one of the focus areas include:
- psychosocial support for children with disabilities in crisis-affected Eastern Ukraine
- accessible education programmes for children with disabilities in Uganda
- emergency physical rehabilitation and mine-risk education in Afghanistan.
Last updated: 10/03/2022
Facts & figures
It is estimated that 15% of the global population have a disability.
EU humanitarian funding:
€73.6 million in 2021