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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its 28 Member
The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this statement.
Thank you for bringing us together today to discuss this very important topic. The EU and its 28 Member States are committed to protecting persons with disabilities, and to ensure they are included in humanitarian responses, both as recipients and participants. We recognize that persons with disabilities face intersecting forms of discrimination and barriers, making them particularly vulnerable in situations of armed conflict, and disproportionality affected by it.
To this end, the EU’s priority is to mainstream the needs of persons with disabilities in humanitarian settings, as reflected in the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid and in many of the EU thematic policies such as protection, shelter, forced displacement and education in emergencies and protracted crises.
The EU is a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and is thus bound to “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict”, as defined in Article 11 of the Convention. Furthermore, the EU has endorsed the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action (launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016).
Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, has reaffirmed Europe’s strong advocacy for people with disabilities caught in conflicts. Work is ongoing on the development of targeted guidelines to better include people with disabilities on EU funded humanitarian operations.
In addition to funding mainstreaming actions, it is crucial to ensure, via targeted action, that specific needs are effectively addressed. To this end, the EU has granted over 35 million Euro to 35 projects targeting the needs of persons with disabilities in the past 3 years. Examples include improving access of refugees with disabilities in Turkey to inclusive and quality services, functional rehabilitation and integrated psychosocial support services for persons with disabilities affected by the Yemen crisis as well as in Afghanistan, or access to community-based protection services for older women and men unable to leave their homes in conflict-affected areas in Ukraine. We need also to increase the efforts to prevent injuries leading to disabilities: in this regard, demining is and stays a priority of the EU and its Member States, for instance in Raqqa.
Finally, the EU has also supported capacity building through the financing of the development of IASC guidelines on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action. We hope that they will become a reference tool for the humanitarian community.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Disability inclusion is a joint responsibility. The EU and its Member States are committed to make all efforts to reach this objective, and we call on all those involved to work together in order to ensure that disability inclusion and an inclusive and participatory human rights based approach towards persons with disabilities in humanitarian action becomes a reality.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.