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Children with disabilities disproportionately impacted by war in Ukraine

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Children with disabilities disproportionately impacted by war in Ukraine

The current humanitarian crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is having a “disproportionate impact” on people with disabilities, especially children in institutions there, four independent human rights experts appointed by the United Nations said on Thursday.

The horrific tragedy of war highlights historical policy choices made in the past that disproportionately affect children with disabilities – the Special Rapporteur said.

When this war finally ends, Ukraine will face the difficult task of reshaping many of its social and economic systems – the independent expert said.

 

Sound the alarm

Experts have warned about inadequate services for children with disabilities and the impact of the armed conflict on critical services in Ukraine and surrounding regions.

They highlighted that thousands of children with disabilities were being sent back to their places of origin without first determining whether the environment was safe, warning that the practice could endanger youth, including abuse and trafficking.

In addition, large-scale returns have left many children untreated for their physical and mental health conditions.

We fully understand the urgency of war and the urgency of making difficult choices. But this is not a situation that can be allowed indefinitely – they insisted.

Children left behind

Experts noted that they moved from one facility to another and observed a decline in the health and well-being of children who remained in institutions.

In addition to known problems with neglect, abuse, physical limitations and access to essential services, including education and healthcare, a lack of information on their whereabouts is preventing families from restoring contact.

Cross institutionalization cannot be the strategy of the future – warned the special correspondent.

Third country recipients

Another concern raised by experts is that Ukraine appears to be requiring third countries that host children with disabilities to place them in facilities — even those that have successfully escaped their own citizens.

3rd countries have a greater responsibility to help Ukraine envision a better future for its citizens with disabilities, including its children – he said.

Building forward

UN experts say they hope that when funding Ukraine’s reconstruction and future development, investment will be made to build community support so that children with disabilities can thrive in a family-like environment with their families, rather than in institutions.

We sincerely hope that Ukraine is committed to creating a better future for people with disabilities, especially children – the experts said.

For our part, we are ready to offer advice, solidarity and support to Ukraine in this matter.

Finally, the experts strongly reiterated their “repeated previous calls” for Russia to “immediately stop its aggression against Ukraine” and pledged to help Ukraine “build a better future for its disabled citizens.”

 

The Experts words

Click here to view the names of those who participated in the statement.

Special rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report on specific human rights themes or country situations. These situation are honorary and the work of specialists is not paid.

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