Disability Groups Call for Action on “Hidden Crisis”

Disaster, News, May 14 2020

UN Urged to Lead Action to End Discrimination Against People with Disabilities in the Response to COVID-19 

New campaign by disability rights groups calls for more leadership from the United Nations to ensure COVID-19 measures include people with disabilities.

Lack of concerted action from governments and health authorities is putting the lives of people with disabilities at greater risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC).

The two leading disability rights bodies have launched a campaign to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities and call for public health information and communications around COVID19 to be fully accessible.

Describing the situation as a ‘hidden crisis’ for people with disabilities, the campaign has sent a letter to the UN and the World Health Organization calling on it to send a stronger message to governments that people with disabilities must be included in the measures to contain and treat COVID-19.

It has also asked the United nations and its agencies to make their daily briefings and any supporting documents on COVID-19 fully accessible to persons with disabilities.

Ana Lucia Arellano, Chair of IDA says, “Life-saving information is not being made in accessible formats which is leaving huge swathes of the population in the dark.

“The UN has now committed to a number of changes to ensure its information is more consistently accessible. We believe this will show governments and international media outlets that inclusion is possible and indeed necessary to reach all audiences.”

Dominic Haslam, Chair of IDDC says, “We are hearing disturbing accounts about how people with disabilities are having to shoulder some of the worst effects of COVID-19.

“We believe the United Nations has shown incredible leadership throughout this crisis. We are asking the UN to urge governments to ensure an inclusive emergency response.”

It is estimated that one billion people have a disability globally, 800 million of whom live in developing countries.

Reports from the World Health Organization and other UN agencies say people with disabilities are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19 not only because of increased risk for people with existing health conditions, but also because of discrimination in the health, economic and other responses by governments to the Covid-19 crisis.

The campaign, which represents 45 disability organisations, aims to raise awareness of the discrimination towards persons with disabilities in accessing health services during the global pandemic. It calls on the global community to deliver disability inclusive COVID-19 responses at global, national and local levels.

In direct letter to the groups, UN Secretary-General António Guterres detailed plans already underway, including key actions the UN has put to governments and a COVID19 Trust Fund which will support “the most at-risk populations, including persons with disabilities.”

“We face significant challenges – for example, the accessibility of our documents and online communications. There is an unevenness in our approach, and we must address these gaps in a systematic manner”, Guterres added.

Ends 

For further details, interviews, photos and case studies contact Maria Fsadni, Senior PR & Media Officer at Sightsavers on mfsadni@sightsavers.org / +44 7535 059 244. 

Notes to editors 

About the COVID-19 Disability Campaign

The International Disability Alliance and the International Disability and Development Consortium have launched the COVID-19 Disability Campaign to call for global response to this pandemic to fully include people with disabilities. Collectively representing 45 disability rights organisations the campaign is shining a spotlight on the ways that people with disabilities are missing out on vital Covid-19 health and emergency information.

About the International Disability Alliance (IDA):

IDA is a network of 14 global and regional organisations of persons with disabilities. We advocate at the United Nations for a more inclusive global environment for everyone. IDA promotes the rights of persons with disabilities across the United Nations’ efforts to advance human rights and sustainable development. IDA supports organisations of persons with disabilities to hold their governments to account and advocate for change locally, nationally and internationally.

About the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC):

IDDC is a global consortium of 31 disability and development non-governmental organisations (NGOs), mainstream development NGOs and representative organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) supporting inclusive international development and humanitarian action with a special focus on the full and effective enjoyment of human rights by all people with disabilities in more than 150 countries around the world. Website: www.iddcconsortium.net.

 

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