War and disability

Analysts of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union prepared the report ‘Rights of persons with disabilities in situations of the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine’. The report provides an overview of the situation of persons with disabilities residing in the ATO zone or IDPs.

The inhabitants of areas, military operations of the counterterrorist operation take place, face many problems: hiding from shelling, escaping from their homes, rushing in search for housing, struggling at a new place. However, persons with disabilities often depend on the help of others, performing these things is complicated for them even in peacetime.

Those confined to bed or wheelchair users, who were in their houses during bombings, were unable to leave it and could only hope that the building would remain whole. Persons with hearing impairment often knew about the danger while seeing a general panic. People with disabilities could only rely on the help of strangers to get access to shelter facilities. The eloquent situation was in one of the boarding places for disabled in Luhansk Oblast, where the staff left people, who needed treatment.  They were not only threatened by the consequences of the fighting, but also by hunger.

If people with disabilities with the help of volunteers or relatives managed to leave the dangerous territory, they faced the new challenges at the new place. For example, they live in unsuitable health centers. The buildings of the centers ‘opened’ the doors to new diseases in winter.

It is almost impossible to rely on the state’s support in purchasing medication. They sharply felt undersupply of treatment facilities for rehabilitation and medical supplies, special food. People with disabilities suffering from hemophilia were in the particularly difficult situation.

Bureaucratic obstacles stood in the way of the proper social payments.

‘A man with disabilities had to return home to get the original documents (copies were enough for officials) in order to get a social pension. He сame under fire and died’, say people with disabilities.

The situation with a school in the Kreminna town shows that authorities there have a specific understanding of inclusive education. They decided to equip a part of the building of the only institution in the region, where children with serious illnesses (children with physical, intellectual and psychosocial disabilities) are learning, with the rooms for a hundred of athletes. They took away part of the building, where boys lived, and moved them to a common part with girls. It is difficult to understand how officials imagined cohabitation of children with disabilities and athletes. Unfortunately, these risks, coupled with double discrimination, including during job search, have caused a return of people to their previously abandoned homes.

Persons with disabilities take the risk, when crossing the delimitation line. They have to wait in a preferential line for more than a day, without accessible toilets, for people dependent on medication; all these are evidence of non-simplified crossing. People with movement disorders and those who use wheelchairs are not able to cross the bridge on foot in Stannycya Luhanska.

So this is how the authors and experts of the analytical report of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights saw the situation of people with disabilities, who became hostages of the armed conflict.

The report is available HERE.


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