One in every 10 children has a disability. Armed conflict and disasters further increase disabilities among children. Within any crisis-affected community, children and adults with disabilities are among the most marginalized, yet they often are excluded from humanitarian assistance.
The Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action are a framework to deliver UNICEF’s organizational commitment to deliver humanitarian assistance to all children, regardless of their status or context. Children with disabilities are first and foremost children, requiring the same basic services to survive and thrive: nutrition, health care, education, safe water and a protective environment. They have additional needs owing to their disability, such as accessible environments and assistive devices.
UNICEF was one of the first organizations to endorse the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, launched at the World Humanitarian Summit. This further demonstrates our commitment to addressing the rights and needs of children with disabilities.
Including children with disabilities requires a better understanding of the challenges they face in humanitarian crises. It is also essential to know how to tailor humanitarian programmes to meet their needs and to partner with organizations that have expertise on issues related to disability.
UNICEF’s humanitarian programmes around the world are increasingly reaching out to children with disabilities. The number of UNICEF country offices reporting on disability inclusive humanitarian action increased fivefold over the last five years. This guidance, developed through extensive consultation with UNICEF staff, provides practical ways to make humanitarian programmes more disability inclusive. We hope it will support humanitarian practitioners to make humanitarian action more equitable and inclusive of children with disabilities.
The purpose of Including Children with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action is to strengthen the inclusion of children and women with disabilities, and their families, in emergency preparedness, response and early recovery, and recovery and reconstruction. This series of booklets provides insight into the situation of children with disabilities in humanitarian contexts, highlights the ways in which they are excluded from humanitarian action, and offers practical actions and tips to better include children and adolescents with disabilities in all stages of humanitarian action.
The booklets were created in response to UNICEF colleagues in the field expressing a need for a practical resource to guide their work. The information and recommendations are based on evidence and good practices gathered from literature and field staff experiences.
The six booklets on how to include children and adolescents with disabilities in humanitarian programmes are as follows: 1) general guidance; 2) child protection; 3) education; 4) health and HIV/AIDS; 5) nutrition; 6) water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
The actions and practical tips are relevant across various humanitarian contexts:
● Rapid-onset disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, typhoons or tsunamis;
● Slow-onset disasters, such as drought or famine;
● Health emergencies, such as the Ebola epidemic;
● Forced displacement, including refugees and internally displaced persons;
● Armed conflicts, including protracted crises.
Feedback and comments: This resource is a living document. As UNICEF’s work to include children with disabilities in humanitarian action evolves, and as the guidance is applied in the field, the booklet will be updated and adapted. Based on experience with this guidance in the field, UNICEF colleagues and partners should send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.