Engaging Organizations of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Responses
2. Methods Used by the WRC
- Review of existing UN, NGO, international, and national policies on disabilities, with a particular reference to displacement and disability. Literature reviews were conducted using Google Scholar as well as accessing international NGO, disability NGO, and research institute websites and UN databases. The following key words/phrases were used: refugees with disabilities, disabilities in humanitarian action/response, displaced women and girls with disabilities, and disability inclusion in humanitarian practice.
- Global desk research into conditions for displaced persons in different refugee and internally displaced person (IDP) contexts. This included a review of UNHCR country reports, policy documents, and systems (such as the ProGres registration system to assess how refugees were identified), as well as available public documents from UNHCR’s implementing partners with respect to disability (such as Handicap International, Christian Blind Mission, HelpAge, and World Vision) to assess if and how disability inclusion was referenced and noted.
- Telephone and Skype interviews with key actors and experts, including relevant staff at the UNHCR’s headquarters from the Division of International Protection: the Community-Based Protection Advisor, the Education Advisor, and the Child Protection Advisor. Selected staff from partner organizations, including headquarters-based staff at Handicap International, Christian Blind Mission, HelpAge, World Vision, Mercy Corps, and the International Rescue Committee, were also interviewed, as were the disability advisors from both the World Bank and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
- Field studies into the specific conditions for refugees with disabilities,
- Participatory assessments with refugees with disabilities.
- Direct observation of service provision for refugees with disabilities in multiple contexts.
- Online surveys of both humanitarian practitioners and DPOs.
- Training and workshops with both persons with disabilities as well as humanitarian practitioners.
3. Humanitarian Context
5. Protection Concerns of Women and Girls with Disabilities
6. Linkages to Host Country DPOs
7. Moving Forward
- DPO Pilot Activities: One of the pilot activities undertaken provided funding support to the Lebanese Association for Self-Advocacy (LASA), an organization run by and for persons with intellectual disabilities. Throughout 2015–2016, LASA expanded their engagement with refugees with intellectual disabilities and facilitated 14 training and educational sessions on rights, decision-making, and safety with refugees with disabilities and their caregivers. The sessions, which brought together both Lebanese individuals and refugees with intellectual disabilities, helped create linkages and address the isolation and lack of peer and protective networks many refugees with disabilities face .
- Training focused on strengthening the role of women with disabilities in humanitarian action: In an effort to strengthen the capacity of women with disabilities and DPOs to engage in humanitarian response and include refugees with disabilities in their advocacy efforts, programs, and services, WRC facilitated a number of workshops with DPOs in refugee hosting countries. Participating DPOs and DPO networks included: The Network of African Women with Disabilities, the South Asia Disability Forum, Women Challenged to Challenge (Kenya), the African Disability Alliance, and the Special Talent Exchange Program (Pakistan). The trainings aimed to enhance the capacity of women with disabilities to effectively advocate on women’s and disability issues within relevant humanitarian fora at national and regional levels by: (1) increasing understanding of the humanitarian system; (2) helping participants identify gaps and opportunities for inclusion of women and girls with disabilities within the humanitarian system; and (3) developing advocacy plans to strengthen their inclusion. While just an initial step for tackling a longer-term issue, a facilitator’s guide was produced to help continue and spread the efforts and learning .
- Bringing women with disabilities to global for a: To further highlight the voices and capacities of women with disabilities, WRC sponsored a number of women to speak at high level global fora including the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, and the Association of Women in Development (AWID) conference in Bahia, Brazil. At each event, the women highlighted the critical role local organizations of women, including those with disabilities, can play in bridging the humanitarian/development divide, and representing the rights of refugee women and girls with humanitarian organizations, government departments, and in human rights mechanisms. Participation and speaking at these events sought to address the exclusion women and girls with disabilities face from both the disability and women’s rights movements .
- Workshops to solicit input on the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) guidelines: Finally, during the Spring and early summer of 2018, WRC facilitated two regional workshops to engage DPOs in the drafting of the U.N. Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action process. The IASC Guidelines are a direct follow up to the Disability Charter signed onto by 25 governments, 14 UN agencies, and nearly a hundred international organizations, networks, and NGOs . While not legally binding, the Guidelines will serve to inform humanitarian response and provide concrete instructions to humanitarian actors on expected practice. WRC is leading on the integration of gender and gender-based violence in the inclusion guidelines and the regional workshops, one in Addis Ababa, and one in Bangkok, focused on eliciting input from persons with disabilities on the integration of gender and the prevention and response to GBV throughout the guidelines. The objectives of the consultation workshops were to:
- Identify priority areas for gender mainstreaming and GBV prevention and response across the guidelines;
- Collect useful resources, promising practices and other relevant information for gender and GBV actors to be integrated into the Guidelines; and,
- Map opportunities for gender and GBV actors in the regions to contribute to later phases of the Guidelines development and rollout process.
Conflicts of Interest
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Buscher, D. Engaging Organizations of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Responses. Societies 2018, 8, 107. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8040107
Buscher D. Engaging Organizations of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Responses. Societies. 2018; 8(4):107. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8040107Chicago/Turabian Style
Buscher, Dale. 2018. "Engaging Organizations of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Responses" Societies 8, no. 4: 107. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8040107