Washington, D.C. – The Arc is closely watching the horror unfold in Ukraine and thinking of the millions of adults and children with disabilities who are in harm’s way. It’s estimated that 2.7 million people with disabilities live in Ukraine, including thousands living in institutions. According to news reports, a care facility for people with disabilities was bombed, leaving residents without heat, water, and electricity. We know that food shortages are happening and many people with disabilities are cut off from medications and support services.
According to AccessAbility, 82,000 Ukranian children with disabilities are segregated in institutions and are at risk of abandonment. And the organization says only 4% of Ukraine’s infrastructure is accessible to people with disabilities. Ukraine is using underground subways as bomb shelters. However, according to Accessibility, “the vast inaccessibility of the country’s infrastructure means disabled people are not being give safety in their bomb shelters.”
We support Disability Rights International (DRI) in their calls for urgent action to protect people with disabilities and children in Ukraine’s orphanages. We fully back DRI in urging immediate attention to “protect people with disabilities in Ukraine and ensure their full inclusion in international relief efforts.”
We share DRI’s concern for adults with disabilities living in institutions in Ukraine. We fear they could be left behind as people in Ukraine escape the violence. We also fear that people with disabilities will be abandoned in all the chaos.
The Arc also supports the calls of The European Disability Forum (EDF). EDF is calling for the protection and safety of people with disabilities in Ukraine by respecting:
- Their obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- The U.N. Security Council Resolution 2475 on Protection of Persons with Disabilities in Conflict
- International Humanitarian Law and the Humanitarian Principles
“Hour by hour, Ukrainians are fighting to survive, and for those with disabilities and their families, there are far too few options to ensure their health and safety in this attack. Their rights must be honored in the crisis response, in immigration policy and procedures, and in the days and weeks ahead as this nation fights for its future,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.
The Arc has a longstanding commitment to the human and civil rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Given that all people with IDD are complex human beings with varying attributes and living circumstances, and many experience multiple risk factors for human and civil rights violations, we emphasize that all are entitled to human and civil rights regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, cultural, linguistic, geographic, and spiritual diversity, economic status, severity of disability, intensity of needed supports, or other factors that expose them to increased risk of rights violations.
These rights include the rights to autonomy, dignity, family, justice, life, liberty, equality, self-determination, community participation, property, health, well-being, access to voting, and equality of opportunity and others recognized by law or international declarations, conventions, or standards. All people with IDD must have the right to supports they need to exercise and ensure their human and civil rights. Local, state, federal, and international governments must strongly enforce all human and civil rights.
With your support, The Arc is responding to the crisis in Europe caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Give today, and The Arc will grant 100% of the resources to organizations supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities on the ground in Europe who were affected by the war.
The invasion of Ukraine also reminds us that we, as a society, need to increase our awareness of the unrest and conflict tearing apart lives in many countries across the globe. While much of the media and our attention is focused on the people of Ukraine right now, let us also remember the vast numbers of lives lost and threatened daily on an international scale. In all of these regions, we support the human and civil rights of people with disabilities and call for careful consideration of their safety and access to escape war and violence.