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Stories from Ukraine

“People with disabilities all over the country have been held hostage to their disability"

Quote Source from: The Disabled Ukrainians Doing What the UN Can’t (or Won’t?)

Ukraine Flag colours blue and yellow with quote text "people with disabilities all over the country have been held hostage to their disability" Stories from Ukraine

The devastating events in Ukraine has dominated news headlines, our hearts and minds.

And it is hard to find the words that depict the monstrous horror of war.

What we do know, is that within every displaced population, disabled and older people can face additional, compounding challenges and vulnerabilities from inaccessible humanitarian aid, to inaccessibility of escape routes. And we know that as a consequence of any war there will be those who become newly impaired.

We are witnessing the rising global efforts of humanitarian assistance from grassroots, local communities to NGOs and governments. But all too often, we hear the stories of disabled people being left behind:

Recent national news articles paint a picture with cutting headlines:

- BBC: "Chaos, upheaval and exhaustion for Ukraine's disabled children"

- The Independent: "Millions with disabilities ‘abandoned’ in Ukraine, charities fear"

But what is being done?

Anna Landre and her small US-based disability organisation, The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, have been working alongside Ukrainian disability rights organisation, Fight for Right, to reach and evacuate disabled people in Ukraine.

Anna has written an article about the experience so far, her search for partner organisations equipped to handle evacuations of disabled people from war-torn Ukraine, and how she never expected to be in this position: "as a 23-year-old wheelchair user halfway through a Master's at the London School of Economics, I didn’t expect to spend my past week coordinating evacuations of people with disabilities from Ukraine."

Read the article in full here.

And so, as the need mounts, we call on world leaders to ensure that efforts to reach and evacuate disabled people from Ukraine are not just left to chance. The humanitarian response to the war in Ukraine must be inclusive, person-centred and account for the diverse needs of every individuals, which includes the role of assistive technology and associated services.

15% of the worlds population are estimated to have a disability, but the number is likely much higher. This is not a minority group and everyone must have the right to a safe passage from Ukraine.

Interested to find out more:

To find out more about GDI Hub’s work in inclusive humanitarian response, you can read a conversation we recently had with Dr Maria Kett, a GDI Hub co-founder and humanitarian researcher, as well as follow the work of our inclusive design team, Iain McKinnon and Mikaela Patrick, which recently highlighted the role of inclusive design and assistive technology, climate resilience and disaster risk response at COP26.

Humanity and Inclusion and Help Age International, who are working tirelessly to ensure people with disabilities, adults, children and older people are accounted for also have numerous resources to keep yourself informed.


Anna Landre, The Disabled Ukrainians Doing What the UN Can’t (or Won’t?) FP2P ( Accessed March 9th 2022.