The needs of persons with disabilities in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies will be the focus of a meeting set to begin tomorrow in New York that will bring together State parties to the landmark United Nations disability convention.
“Incidence of disability increases during conflicts and disasters. Conversely, disability increases vulnerability to emergency situations,” said Akiko Ito, Chief of the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and UN Focal Point on Disability, in advance of the event.
“Persons with disabilities tend to face added disadvantages and difficulties in having their needs met during the time of crisis when faced with a shortage of resources,” she added.
The three-day meeting will include a panel discussion, organized in collaboration with the International Disability Alliance, on the issue against the backdrop of a growing number of armed conflicts and the occurrence of natural disasters such as the recent earthquake in Haiti, and the floods in Pakistan.
Participants will also discuss ways to ensure that persons with disabilities are fully integrated in the life of their communities and that their educational needs are adequately considered.
This will be the third meeting of the States parties to the Convention, which entered into force in May 2008 and has so far been signed by 146 countries and ratified by 90.
The treaty is the culmination of years of global efforts to ensure that the rights of the world’s estimated 650 million persons with disabilities are guaranteed and protected. It asserts the rights to education, health, work, adequate living conditions, freedom of movement, freedom from exploitation and equal recognition before the law for persons with disabilities.
The meeting is also expected to renew and expand the membership – from 12 members to 18 – of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, tasked with reviewing periodic reports from States parties, raise concerns, if necessary, and make recommendations.
In April the Committee urged the Chilean Government and the international community to include needs of persons with disabilities in the reconstruction plans of areas affected by the earthquake that struck the country in February.
The 8.8-magnitude quake claimed the lives of more than 480 people and triggered a tsunami that devastated several coastal towns in south-central Chile.