Charter of Inclusion of Persons With Disabilities in Humanitarian Action in Iraq

Middle East, May 23 2017

In 2016, different humanitarian actors came together prior to the World Humanitarian Summit to develop the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. Despite the milestone that the Charter represents, most of its recommendations are not being implemented in the field, especially in the Iraq humanitarian response, even by organisations that endorsed it.

Ever since the insurgence of the group Islamic State and the Levant (ISIS) in 2014, there are more than 3 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Iraq. According to the WHO’s calculation of disability prevalence (10 to 15 percent of a population), there are between 300,000 to 450,000 IDPs with disabilities and even more with injuries that cause temporary functional limitations.

With this in mind, this document will highlight the gaps of the Charter’s implementation and the overall challenges to include persons with disabilities and injuries in the Iraq humanitarian response. It will also provide recommendations to different humanitarian actors and donors on how to increase commitment to implement the Charter and improve their activities to ensure that all IDPs have equal and dignifying access to available services as well as to safety.

Gaps in the implementation of the charter in Iraq
Lack of identification and assessment tools

There is an overwhelming absence of data and qualitative information about persons with disabilities and injuries in the Iraq humanitarian response. Despite including basic questions on disabilities, the current tools used in most camps for registration of IDPs are not able to properly identify persons with different types of impairments. For instance, after HI’s support to Kirkuk’s camps’ managers to improve their tools, the number of reported persons with disabilities increased dramatically –from 30 to 135 in Nazarwa camp (total population of 9,987 IDPs), from 8 to 182 in Laylan 2 camp (total population of 4,854 IDPs), and from 45 to 226 in Laylan 1 (total population of 11,073 IDPs). These figures demonstrate that persons with disabilities have been systematically overlooked in this humanitarian response and more needs to be done.

The lack of a proper identification system also happens with NGOs, whose assessments tools are not able to identify persons with different types of impairments in both camps and host communities. The situation is particularly concerning for those with intellectual impairments (such as Down Syndrome, Autism, ADHD, Asperger, Fragile X Syndrome etc) and mental health problems (chronic depression, anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, PTSD etc). Due to high stigma, families rarely voluntarily declare having a family member with a disability and those with “invisible impairments” will unlikely be accounted for by NGOs and other implementing actors. Without proper identification, it is difficult for actors adequately to design their projects and budget accordingly.

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