ALERT – UN Security Council hears about the situation of persons with disabilities in Yemen | July 28, 2020
Today, 28 July 2020, the Yemeni disability rights activist Dr. Raja Abdullah Almasabi, chairwoman of the Arab Human Rights Foundation in Yemen, has briefed the United Nations Security Council on the situation of persons with disabilities in Yemen. Yemen is suffering from a five-year war that has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with a […]
Today, 28 July 2020, the Yemeni disability rights activist Dr. Raja Abdullah Almasabi, chairwoman of the Arab Human Rights Foundation in Yemen, has briefed the United Nations Security Council on the situation of persons with disabilities in Yemen.
Yemen is suffering from a five-year war that has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with a disproportionate impact on persons with disabilities. Although no reliable data is available, the number of persons with disabilities has possibly doubled since the start of the war. This number will continue to rise every day as bombs continue to fall in Yemen.
“The majority of people who have acquired a disability during the war did so because of injuries from airstrikes, landmines and other explosive remnants of the war” Dr Almasabi said.
These weapons continue to kill and injure every day. Contamination by explosive ordonnance will represent a threat to civilians for decades.
See more information on HI’s latest report Death Sentence for Civilians: The long-term impact of explosive weapons in populated areas in Yemen (May 2020)
Dr Almasabi highlighted the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in displacement camps.
“Most of the camps in Yemen were not designed for us. Basic rights such as access to health, water, sanitation facilities for people with disabilities are often ignored”, she said.
Indeed, an assessment carried out by HI of 40 humanitarian organizations in Yemen found that nearly every single organization lacked dedicated resources to meet the specific needs and rights of persons with disabilities:
- 95% of organizations do not disaggregate beneficiaries’ data by disability and do not consider the specific needs of people with disabilities in their humanitarian interventions.
- 85% of organizations have not developed any specific activity, project or policy to address the specific needs of people with disabilities and other most vulnerable.
- 73% reported that their staff lacks knowledge and skills necessary to provide a gender, age and disability sensitive humanitarian response.
See more information on HI issue brief on Inclusion of persons with disabilities and Humanitarian Action in Yemen (March 2020)
Dr Almasabi also touched upon the barriers that people with disabilities experience to access healthcare.
“Some people need to travel up to 6-8 hours to reach emergency medical centres, through destroyed roads and with little financial resources” she said. “Now, with COVID-19 causing a catastrophic health crisis across Yemen, people with disabilities are being left behind once again. There are no specific, targeted actions to reach them, even though we know they are at a higher risk if infected by the virus.”
HI has documented that meeting the severe humanitarian needs throughout Yemen requires urgent expansion of comprehensive health services including physical rehabilitation and mental health and psychosocial support services.
See more information on HI issue brief on Health System in Crisis: Physical Rehabilitation, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (March 2020)
With such limited health services, HI has seen that the impact of COVID-19 will be deadly for persons with disabilities. Ahmed, a physiotherapist working with HI in Yemen warns of the potential of discrimination against persons with disabilities during the pandemic.
“Many persons with disabilities do not have access to hygiene supplies, due to a lack of financial resources or information. When they are in need of help, many people will refuse to help them because they fear that persons with disabilities are sick or dirty.”
See more information in HI Study on COVID-19 In Humanitarian Contexts: No Excuses To Leave Persons With Disabilities Behind! (June 2020)