UNITED STATES: People with disabilities are the most at risk and also the last to be looked for in catastrophes like floods and earthquakes, said a U.N. official.
Gertrude Fefoame, the new chair of the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, stated that because there is a lack of information, they continue to be “lost and excluded” from rescue efforts.
“Covid exposed us to devastation.” As if that is not enough, there are more and more issues surrounding disasters, conflicts, health, and the environment. “People with disabilities, especially women and girls, end up being the most deprived,” said Fefoame, a longtime advocate for disability rights who was elected earlier this month to become the first African woman to head the committee.
In programmes working with risk assessment and disaster management, neither the people with disabilities nor the organisations that serve them are consulted, she added. Data on how people are coping with which disabilities is not available in many places.
“If you don’t have data [on people with disabilities], why are you going to look for them?” You don’t know who is missing. When you’re not counted, you’re already excluded. “That is the situation we experience in most cases,” Fefoame said.
Fefoame stated that progress towards equal rights was lagging behind, particularly after the pandemic, which emphasised “the gaps and taken persons with disabilities many steps backwards in all areas.”
The gaps induced when schools had to shut and also because many nations switched to remote studying have never been filled, she stated, adding that the story doesn’t get any better when it comes to employment. Many individuals lost their jobs and their income, which never recovered.
Girls and women with disabilities are more likely to suffer sexual violence, and lockdowns across the world saw an increase in domestic violence. “Not everybody has been able to come out of that pain and trauma they went through.” “There are still issues,” stated Fefoame.
People who lose their employment and a reliable source of income are more vulnerable and reliant on others, who may mistreat them. Many women with disabilities are likely to be dependent on others or beg on the streets, explained Fefoame.
“If someone is abusing her, she will not speak out because she doesn’t know where her next meal is coming from.” “This is the reality people are experiencing.” said Fefoame.
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