With a sense of shock and great sorrow, I learned about the terrible floods in Western Europe last week claiming the lives of 12 people with intellectual disabilities in Sinzig, Germany.
I wish to express my deepest condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones, and to those who lost their friends. I am sure the whole European inclusion movement will join me in sending our thoughts to the victims and their families and friends.
I am also thinking of the survivors and wish them a swift recovery. I wish to thank those who stepped in and helped with the evacuation, preventing further loss of lives in the care home run by Lebenshilfe Rheinland-Pfalz.
“It is a terrible tragedy. Our thoughts are with the families with their tremendous loss,” said Ulla Schmidt, chairwoman of the national association Lebenshilfe (which is also our member).
Many times, nature’s forces are invincible. For one who needs the help and support of others in daily life, this may be even more true. Support must be planned and delivered with this in mind, covering also emergency provisions. Nobody should be left behind.
German authorities have promised to provide adequate support to the survivors and to families and friends of those who died. This includes professional counselling to cope with the trauma caused.
The surviving residents should be provided with adequate housing and support in the community.
This is a moment of thorough sadness and sorrow for Europe, especially those regions in Western Europe affected by the heavy rainfalls and its devastating consequences. After, lessons must be learnt about how support is being organized for people with intellectual disabilities and whether enough resources are provided for them to live included in the community.
I urge all the governments in Europe, the European Union and the Council of Europe to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities are always included and supported according to their individual support needs in all measures against future emergencies.
Our work brings the voice of people with intellectual disabilities and their families where decisions about their future are made.
This has always been incredibly important. It is even more so with the Covid pandemic drastic impact on their rights and lives.
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