Inter-Agency Standing Committee – Guidelines for Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action.

A Report by David Corner

The Pacific Regional consultation event was held in Nadi, Fiji from the 21st until the 25th of January by the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF), in partnership with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Task Team on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action and the International.

The Conference was about:

The inclusion of persons with disabilities in Humanitarian Action

The participants were persons  representing  DPO’s (Disabled persons organisations) who are members of the  Pacific Disability Forum (PDF),  representatives of UN Agencies, INGO’s, Ngo’s,  and government agencies (Australia, NZ, EU, Japan) .

The first two days of the event  was DPO discussion on the Pacific  Disability Inclusive preparedness  strategy. We were then joined by an additional 40 people representing the organisations above.

My role at the Conference was:

I was there in my role as the Inclusion International self-advocacy regional representative for Asia Pacific.

There were no other people with intellectual disabilities at the meeting and there was much discussion about how many of the DPO’s did not know how to include people with intellectual disability and their families in their organisations.

I talked about the Christchurch earthquake and how a group of people with intellectual disability came together to talk about their experiences in the earthquake . Out of those discussions developed an awareness of gaps in their knowledge of what to do in an emergency. The group  then developed  a  preparedness workshop  and resource  which was delivered to people with intellectual disability around new Zealand.

After I spoke the organising committee (UNICEF,  IDA and Handicap International- now known as Humanitarian Inclusion)  approached me with the idea that this example could be used in a  resource that will be developed to accompany the  new guidelines.

Trish Grant Inclusion International Council member for Asia Pacific also attended the meeting.               

Some of the people I met were:

People from the Pacific DPO’s and ngo’s were very interested in learning more about intellectual disability and self-advocacy. They didn’t really seem to have an understanding of intellectual disability. Many people commented about the voices of people with intellectual disability and those with pychosocial disabilities were missing from many disability/human rights discussions.

What I learnt

I learnt more about Humanitarian Action and how to involve people with disabilities and where it fits in with the UNCRPD and the SDG’s .

It is very important that People are involved in their countries and regions as we say nothing about us without us.                          

Some of the important messages I heard were:

  • Having up to date information and data on people with disabilities
  • Having accessible places and shelters where people with disabilities can go to in an emergency
  • Having the proper people and equipment to be able to support and move people with disabilities in an emergency
  • Involving family and other support people when responding to people with intellectual disability.