- June 10, 2022

A COSP15 Side Event

First published on PR Web.

Since the onset of renewed Russian aggression against Ukraine in February 2022, children and adults with disabilities have been facing compounded protection threats. These have directly increased risk of abandonment, violence, injury, and death – whether at home, in institutions, or in displacement.

Persons with disabilities lack access to evacuation support. In the context of the current emergency, they have been left behind, unable to access information and seek safety from war. Women and girls with disabilities in Ukraine are also at disproportionate risk of sexual and gender-based violence during the conflict. This is particularly so for women and girls with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities. Those who manage to flee – whether to safer areas in Ukraine or to other countries – face new challenges to their rights.

“Over the past months, dramatic international crises have shown us how fragile our human rights framework is, and how easily our human rights can be cast aside. We saw this during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we see it now during this war in Ukraine,” said Yannis Vardakastanis, the Chair of the International Disability Alliance, ahead of the side event titled "Fourth Month in War: Latest Update on Ukrainians with Disabilities" at the 15th session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD (COSP15) on 14 June 2022.

“We want to be part of the solution but not the solution ourselves. This is a crisis within a crisis. We need a full mobilization to support the forgotten Ukrainians in this unacceptable war,” he said earlier, when addressing the same subject.

“We as a disability movement and the colleagues that we work with, are becoming frustrated that the world is never prepared, never ready, and always caught by surprise whenever new crises appear, on how to include and how to protect persons with disabilities,” said Vladimir Cuk, the Executive Director of IDA.

In response to the inadequate inclusion and protection of persons with disabilities during recent emergencies, and as the global network of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, IDA in collaboration with its members and partners has called for the creation of the Global Mechanism for Disability-Inclusive Emergency Response (DER Mechanism). This mechanism aims to facilitate collaboration and exchanges of information, as well as channel funding and unify messages to enhance inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in emergency response.

“We, the disability advocates, the International Disability Alliance, but also other agencies and partners have been trying to help address the situation that persons with disabilities currently face in Ukraine,” said Vardakastanis. “We have many testimonies, many calls and facilitated many connection meetings, et cetera. The more we engaged in the crisis, the more we realized that greater coordination is requested, more coordination is urgently needed.”

At "Fourth Month in War: Latest Update on Ukrainians with Disabilities", the International Disability Alliance will discuss how the new Disability Inclusive Emergency Response Mechanism will help to fill a gap in coordination to enhance disability inclusion in emergency response and coordination. All relevant UN agencies, civil society, organizations of persons with disabilities, governments, donors, academics, and other stakeholders will be invited to participate in consultation and exchange meetings organized by the Mechanism when it is activated. Organizations of persons with disabilities, disability rights experts and States engaged in the emergency response in Ukraine will provide the most recent updates on the situations of persons with disabilities affected by the armed conflict, and share their recommendations and requests with other UN Member States, donors, humanitarian actors and other stakeholders.

The agenda of the event includes:

Opening remarks from
- Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya
- Yannis Vardakastanis, Chair of the International Disability Alliance
- Professor Gerard Quinn, Special Rapporteur on Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Information about the situation of persons with disabilities in Ukraine and who fled the country
- Larysa Bayda, Director of Department, National Assembly of Persons with Disabilities of Ukraine (NAPD)
- Dariya Herasymchuk, Adviser - President's Commissioner for Children's Rights and Children's
Rehabilitation, Deputy Head of the Ukraine delegation
- Mariia KARCHEVYCH, Deputy Minister of Health for Digital Development, Digital Transformation and Digitization, Deputy Head of the Ukraine delegation
- MEP Dragos Pîslaru, Chairman of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the European Parliament
- H.E. Pawel Wdowik, State Secretary and Plenipotentiary for the rights of persons with disabilities of Poland
• H.E. Ambassador Rytis Paulauskas, Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the UN

Looking ahead
- Sara Minkara, U.S. Special Advisor on International Disability Rights, US Department of State
Interventions from Member States and civil society, including organizations of persons with disabilities

Join us on the live webcast on Tue Jun 14 2022, 8:15am - 9:30am EST here: