Inclusion Europe organised a call with the VGO Coalition partner organisation to discuss how the war in Ukraine affects families with children with disabilities.
About 100,000 people with intellectual disabilities live in Ukraine and less than a third of them live in institutions that are threatened by a shortage of both staff and medicines. The war in Ukraine has greatly affected their lives and they are feared to be “abandoned” as few are reaching the borders.
More than a million Ukrainians have left the country, but some are struggling to do so, including people with disabilities. According to The Independent, “Aid workers have said there is a lack of transportation for those with disabilities and mobility issues, and that major organisations were not able to address their needs.”
A few days ago, Inclusion Europe organised a call with the partner organisation VGO Coalition, which is based in Ukraine to talk about the situation and how all of us can help. Raisa and Yulia, the president, and the director of the organisation respectively mentioned that taking care of their family members with disabilities has become more difficult than ever, they must dedicate all their time to their beloved ones, who cannot comprehend what is happening. Raisa has a 7-year-old son, whose home group support stopped, and now that he is with her it takes all her time to cope with his behavioural difficulties and Yulia has to take care of her immobile 82-year-old mother.
The situation they have to face is the lack of medicines, sanitary and hygiene products, and food supplies, as the shops are closed and as a result, they have no food stock. Raisa pointed out that she had to wait in line for 3 hours to withdraw 3000 hryvnias, equivalent to 60 euros. All kinds of transportation do not work; bridges are closed, which means people on the left side cannot come to the right side, to the railway station, and so they are not able get out of Kyiv.
On that same note, those on the borders with Poland or other western countries have to spend a few days there they might need wheelchairs, portable chairs, hot drinks, or someone to arrange recreation. Also, now and then they receive signals that they have to go to a cellar, a basement, or somewhere to hide from the assault. Some families live in bathrooms as the military declared that the bathrooms are the safest place in the house. So, people with intellectual disabilities are placed there or in the basement if there is not enough space inside of the house.
The situation prevailing in Kyiv is broken bridges and blocked leaving points. In this way, it is extremely difficult to leave at all, considering that Kyiv is a city of 3 million people. The Russian invaders have loudspeakers; they invite people to come out and take some bread, but when people come out and approach the bread they offer to them; they are being captured and taken to a human living shelter. They place them before the military, and often they shoot them. Many people have been killed, buildings have been blown up, and now they have a phone and internet connection problem.
Simultaneously, people with intellectual and behavioural disabilities cannot go to the day center; this caused a very vivid reaction, aggression against parents who prohibited their children from going out. Restoring these services is a vital priority.
“So far we are disoriented, we cannot imagine, and we do not know how long this situation will last,” says Raisa. They do not know what the political regime will be; they do not know if and when it will be possible to go back to their pre-war lives. People feel lost and exhausted, especially people with intellectual disabilities and particularly with behavioral disabilities, who need a great deal of support, as the range of their needs cannot be classified. The needs of every family are different, so family-to-family support would be the solution to this problem.
This war concerns us all; that is why we are working on a functional solution to effectively support people with intellectual disabilities and their families in Ukraine. Donate and support our work – Inclusion Europe (inclusion-europe.eu)
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