UNICEF urges a humanitarian response that includes all children with disabilities
KYIV, 2 December 2022 – On the International Day of People with Disabilities, UNICEF celebrates the rights, contributions, and potential of all children with disabilities, and encourages the Government and all humanitarian actors to ensure a disability inclusive humanitarian response in Ukraine, especially for internally displaced children and their families.
"Children with disabilities are first and foremost children, and they have the same rights that all children have. So any humanitarian activity should include children with disabilities and offer adequate care, protection, and a barrier-free environment. No child should be left behind, especially in times of war. We need to ensure children with disabilities are visible, heard, and protected, as all children should be", said UNICEF representative Murat Sahin.
UNICEF works to build a world where children and youth with disabilities reach their full potential, growing up healthy, educated, protected from harm, heard and engaged in their communities. It also works to ensure that children with disabilities and their families have access to community-based services and support, wherever they may live, in times of stability as well as in humanitarian emergencies.
UNICEF successfully cooperates with the Ukrainian Government and partners in this area. As part of this cooperation, 19 municipal and civil society organizations from all over the country are equipped to provide early intervention services to young children with developmental delays and disabilities. This initiative is implemented within the Early Intervention project led by UNICEF and the Dzherelo Rehabilitation Center, with support from Ukraine’s Ministry of Social Policy.
UNICEF’s partnership with the Dzerelo Rehabilitation Center focuses on children with disabilities. As a result of this partnership, in the past five months, 5,870 internally displaced children undertook a comprehensive assessment of their needs and some 42% of these children (2,465) were identified as having developmental delays or disabilities. These children were referred to social services and to rehabilitation or other specialized services, where required.
In addition, UNICEF facilitated an advocacy training for 57 civil society organizations, led by parents of children with disabilities and women with disabilities. This training was to build their advocacy and networking capacity to make their voices heard and considered in their communities while planning and implementing humanitarian response activities.
At the end of March this year, UNICEF launched its cash transfer programme with the Ministry of Social Policy, which targets families that have three or more children, as well as families with children with disabilities. About 50,000 children with disabilities and their families received it. UNICEF is planning to provide a second payment to these households this month, which represent the most vulnerable families among the 200,000 families that UNICEF has already supported with cash transfers.
Moreover, UNICEF continues to strengthen community-based social services, as well as specialized services in communities with a large number of internally displaced population. Within the project, assistive devices are procured and distributed to families of children with disabilities, including hearing aids, wheelchairs, eye-tracking technology, and alternative communication systems. Families also received psychosocial support. A brochure with recommendations for community professionals, parents, and caregivers of children who have been diabled by landmines and explosive remnants of war is being developed.
However, in order to ensure a comprehensive and disability inclusive humanitarian response, there is still a need for strengthening and consolidating these efforts with national and local authorities and with humanitarian organisations. It is a must that standards of services for displaced people are inclusive and accessible. Disability and inclusion needs to become a cross-sectoral priority for all actors.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.