May 30, 2013

UNICEF Report: Children with Disabilities Left Behind

Takoma Park, Maryland — Handicap International welcomes the publication today of UNICEF’s The State of the World’s Children report, which highlights children with disabilities and the extreme difficulties they face. Handicap International witnesses the exclusion of children with disabilities every day in the 61 countries in which it operates. The organization supports UNICEF’s recommendations.

Nearly half of Handicap International’s direct beneficiaries are under the age of 18. The organization supports children with disabilities by providing rehabilitation care, promoting inclusive education and psychological assistance, and preventing the many causes of disability, including those caused by explosive remnants of war.

According to UNICEF, 93 million children under the age of 14 have a disability. Due to gaps in the data, this estimate is likely to be lower than the actual number. The reports describes many of the injustices suffered by children with disabilities: In addition to being stigmatized and excluded from health and education services, children with disabilities are three to four times more likely to be victims of violence and are also often neglected or abandoned by their families.

“Out of all the vulnerable people we encounter, they are often the most fragile,” says Ludovic Bourbé, Handicap International’s director of technical services. “In Afghanistan, for example, 68% of victims of mines and explosive remnants of war are children. One quarter of injured people case-managed by Handicap International in northern Syria are under the age of 12.”

The UNICEF report offers a number of recommendations for improving conditions for children with disabilities, starting with the ratification and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). One hundred and fifty-five countries—not including the U.S.— have signed the CRPD but the full implementation of its protocol requires rigorous enforcement and monitoring. Other key recommendations include adding accessibility features to public facilities like schools and hospitals, and providing support services to families with children with disabilities.

Yet, the current funding allocated to support the recommendations listed in the report is insufficient. According to a February 2012 study conducted by Handicap International and HelpAge, less than 0.5% of international humanitarian aid is allocated to people with disabilities.

“This report clearly lays out the precarious situation of children with disabilities in the developing world,” says Elizabeth MacNairn, executive director of Handicap International U.S. “However, only 10% of the children with disabilities living in the countries where we work are getting the support they need. This cannot stand. Humanitarian operators and funders must do more to improve the situation of these children, who are the most vulnerable members of society.”

About Handicap International
Co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, Handicap International is an independent international aid organization. It has been working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for 30 years. Working alongside persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, our actions and testimony focus on responding to their essential needs, improving their living conditions, and promoting respect for their dignity and basic rights. Since 1982, Handicap International has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. The network of eight national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States) works constantly to mobilize resources, jointly manage projects and to increase the impact of the organization's principles and actions. Handicap International is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and winner of the 2011 Hilton Humanitarian Prize. Handicap International takes action and campaigns in places where “standing tall” is no easy task.

Contacts
Mica Bevington, Director of Communications and Marketing
Handicap International US
+1 (240) 450-3531
mbevington@handicap-international.us

Molly Feltner, Communications and Marketing Officer
Handicap International US
+1 (240) 450-3528
mfeltner@handicap-international.us

Contact:

Mica Bevington, Director of Communications and Marketing
  +1 (240) 450-3531
 mica_bevington@yahoo.co.uk

Michele Lunsford, Digital Marketing and Communications Officer
 +1 (814) 386-3853
 michelelunsford@gmail.com