Op-ed on persons with disabilities in times of crisis and conflict

In an op-ed for The New Humanitarian, we argue persons with disabilities should receive more attention and protection when a crisis or conflict breaks out.

At least 15 percent of the world’s population lives with some form of disability; in conflict zones, this number is often higher. Yet, this group is largely ignored in times of crisis and conflict.

For example, even if there are sirens, a deaf person cannot hear them. Wheelchair users can find it difficult to quickly access shelter in a basement. A person with a psychosocial disability might not be able to react to a dangerous situation quickly enough to flee.

While international humanitarian law requires certain protocols – such as warning a civilian population before an attack – these are seldom designed with the needs of disabled people in mind. 

In a piece, published through my work for the Diakonia International Humanitarian Law Centre and with Senior Legal Advisor Alice Priddy, we argue that states, humanitarian actors, and others should do more to protect persons with disabilities in conflict and crisis.