Soufiane El Amrani’s speech at COSP15 side-event.
When the Russian war on Ukraine started,
we all watched in shock and disbelief.
We felt shock and disbelief as the war unfolded,
with all its horrible destruction of human lives, of cities and villages.
We also feel the urgency of the situation of people with intellectual disabilities and their families in Ukraine.
Most of them unable to shelter from bombs, or to leave the war zone.
People with intellectual disabilities in Ukraine
When the Russian war started, people with intellectual disabilities
and their families were in a very bad situation to start with.
There are over 2 hundred thousand people with intellectual disabilities in Ukraine.
Most of them live with their families.
41 thousand have been declared “incompetent” by court,
deprived of their basic human rights.
Many tens of thousands of children and adults are placed in “care institutions”.
Impact of the war
For most people with intellectual disabilities and their families
it was impossible to escape from the war.
They were scared to go outside
because they don’t know when a missile is going to fall on their head.
They could not go to bomb shelters because those were not accessible.
They had little access to food and medicines.
But of course, many people with disabilities fled the war.
They became refugees in Ukraine, and in other countries.
We heard very little about humanitarian agencies reaching out
and helping people with disabilities.
That has been a huge disappointment given how much money
they get to help people.
And how often many of them talk about “diversity and inclusion”.
Most of the support provided to people with intellectual disabilities
came from disability organisations and NGOs.
This is both in Ukraine, and in other countries.
Disability organisations and NGOs travelled to Kyiv and to other cities
to deliver supplies.
They helped to evacuate people with disabilities.
They provide support to refugees with disabilities in Ukraine,
and in other countries.
We are grateful too all organisations and people who contribute to help people with intellectual disabilities affected by the war.
Existing problems made much worse
The war has created many problems for people with intellectual disabilities.
It has also made existing problems worse.
“All our achievements have come to nothing,” said one family member,
talking about how the war destroys years of support, learning,
working towards inclusion.
We cannot allow this to happen.
What needs to be done
People with intellectual disabilities and their families in Ukraine need our support.
1. Humanitarian help must reach people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
This includes those in “care institutions”.
2. Refugees with disabilities need better support in EU countries.
Education, and jobs.
3. Disability-inclusive rebuilding:
Ukrainians with intellectual disabilities and their families
need our support to build a better future for themselves.
The international community must support disability-inclusive rebuilding.
Community-based support. Accessible housing.
Prevent people who lost family members from ending up in “care institutions”.
The Ukrainian government needs to reform legal capacity laws,
and other relevant rules and policies to stop restricting people’s rights.
To provide accessible information on humanitarian help, and all other measures.
Involve and consult with people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
But first and foremost,
Russia must end its horrible war on Ukraine.
Soufiane El Amrani is easy to read and self-advocacy officer of Inclusion Europe. Soufiane is Council member of Inclusion International.
Russia’s war on Ukraine:
- 100 days: Ukrainians with intellectual disabilities and their families surviving the war
- “NGOs are at the forefront providing support to refugees with disabilities,” organisations in Moldova, Poland, Romania, Czechia tell us
- One month of the Russian war on Ukraine in the words of families of people with intellectual disabilities
- “Weeks of horror. And we cannot possibly escape.”
- War refugees with disabilities in Poland – situation, support, needs
Our work brings the voice of people with intellectual disabilities and their families where decisions about their future are made.
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