In line with the humanitarian principle of humanity, the humanitarian response in North West Syria is committed to provide assistance on the basis of need, without distinction to nationality, race, gender, disability, religious belief, class or political opinion. Linked to and part of the Protection 2020 Strategy as well as the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan, cluster response strategies are required to take into account the principle of inclusion and the differential risks of exclusion, including those which reinforce or create inequalities among the affected population, whether based on societal discrimination, power structures, vulnerability, disability, age, and gender and any other factors.
There is an intersection between humanitarian crises and persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities and their care givers are disproportionately affected by conflict and often face a specific and aggravated set of challenges due to both discrimination and to the barriers that limit their access to essential protection and humanitarian assistance.“The costs of humanitarian interventions that are not designed to respond to the specific needs of the diversity of persons with disabilities are counted in human lives.”Error! Bookmark not defined.
Recent evidence suggests that the individual prevalence rate of persons with disabilities living in Syria, aged 12 years and above is 27% 2 , which is almost twice that of the global average (15%)3 . Also important to note is that in Aleppo and Idleb governorates, the individual IDP prevalence rate exceeds these figures where females are more likely to experience disability. That is, 59% of females and 27% of males (Aleppo) and 42% of females and 30% of males (Idleb) have disabilities4 . Further, for IDP heads of household across the whole of Syria, the rate of disability is 38%. 2 These striking figures reflect the impact of severe environmental challenges on individual functioning and the way in which poverty and reduced access to essential services compounds the experience of disability. Finally, with regards to age, across Syria 99% of females and 94% of males over the age of 65 years have a disability, 2 which is also important to note when considering the intersectionality of gender, age and disability in policy and programming.
Monitoring inclusion of persons with disabilities includes ongoing sector-specific analysis of the impact of conflict on persons with disabilities and their caregivers, especially in relation to their specific needs and ability to access services. Strengthening evidence and contextual understanding through this monitoring, while taking a human-rights-based approach to inclusion, 5,6 aims to inform measures to address exclusion include those related to:
Programmatic design and targeting by response partners which involves inclusion mainstreaming;
Ensuring that staff have the skills to identify physical, attitudinal and institutional barriers relevant to the communities which they work and having the means to mitigate these barriers to enable equal access for all people;
Ensuring that staff at all levels of the response, have the skills, knowledge and confidence to identify and engage persons with disabilities on an equal basis with all others.
To further strengthen inclusion of persons with disabilities in the COVID-19 response and the overall humanitarian response, engagement with humanitarian leadership on practical measures related to the HPC and the SCHF, as well as other strategic coordination processes, remains a required measure.
All persons with disabilities must be considered when operationalizing inclusion in the Syria response, however it is understood that the intersection between gender, age and disability can compound exclusion and in turn, vulnerability.