Humanitarian crises monitoring: impact of coronavirus
Written submission by Reclaiming Our Future Alliance, International Committee – 8th May 2020
Submission to UK Parliament Committees
The International Committee was set up in early 2019. The Committee membership includes representatives from the ROFA Steering group with additional members who are Disabled people with international development experience. The International will also seek representation from national Disabled peoples Organisations (DPO) in the devolved nations. The ROFA International Committee has the following objectives:
Our responses address’s the following areas:
ROFA uses the language of the Social Model of Disability as a way to help understand and address the barriers experienced by Disabled people. The Social Model of Disability defines Disabled people not by our impairment or medical labels but by the failure of society to take account of our access needs.
Our submission to this consultation is based on evidence gathered from the ROFA conference, the ROFA International Committee, Commonwealth Disabled Peoples Forum and responses as they unfold from our networks. The response is based on lived experiences of local, national and international DPO’s.
Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, ROFA IC has repeatedly raised concerns about Department for International Development (DFID) failure to involve and represent UK DPO’s within their international development programmes. This is a clear requirement of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (under Article 4 & 33) (United Nations, 2020a).
We recently wrote to DFID expressing our disappointment and questioned their rational on their tendering processes which again excluded UK DPO’s from their Capacity Building Disability programme.
We see our submission as a positive voice in supporting the solidarity of DPO’s and Disabled people in unity to ensure the decision processes are based on Disabled people’s human rights. We would also welcome the opportunity to make an oral submission.
“The global crisis of COVID-19 is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing the extent of exclusion and highlighting that work on disability inclusion is imperative. People with disabilities—one billion people— are one of the most excluded groups in our society and are among the hardest hit in this crisis in terms of fatalities.” (pg.2 United Nations, 2020b)
In April 2020 two significant meetings were held, ROFA hosted two day conference (attended by 63 Disabled people) and Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum (attended by 25 disabled people) the messages was clear that Disabled people globally have been written off and neglected during this pandemic. For example: Deaf people have been shut off from public announcement – no live captions or signed interpreters, death of Disabled people living in institutions have not been recorded in general reports, Coronavirus legislations have weakened Disabled people’s rights. The ramifications of the social distancing strategy and quarantine has impacted on health services, education, standard of living, increase in gender-based violence experienced by Disabled women and girls. Also, not possible for some Disabled people to achieve social distancing and quarantine, therefore it increases individuals’ risk of being exposed to the virus.
ROFA members have told us that Disabled people are denied access to mainstream support and services such as social protection, relief and support for advice, food and other essentials. Disabled people also lack access to internet and mobile phone, digital platforms and ways for home working. The situation is escalated for Disabled people living in developing countries and remote places as they are further ignored from Government plans. The Coronavirus has further revealed the extent of hardship and mistreatment of Disabled people globally during this pandemic.
In June 2019 ROFA IC and DFID co-hosted a Conference on UK Disability and Development Cooperation for Disabled People and Representatives of Disabled People’s Organisations. The conference attracted more than 50 DPO’s and Disabled people (including wales and Northern Island) and the conference produced 18 recommendations (ROFA IC, 2019). A strong message came out of the conference about capacity building and the involvement of UK DPO’s in national and international development. This is also pertinent to our response to this submission.
168 countries have signed up to UN CRPD making a commitment to improve the lives of Disabled people. At the 2019 Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities it was evident that many Governments are struggling making progress in achieving equality for Disabled people hence it is not surprising we have been ignored from Government plans. We have learnt that the impact of the Coronavirus has further worsen Disabled peoples living conditions. Women DPO in Uganda who works on the ground tells us that
“Women and girls with disabilities are among the most neglected in Uganda, increased risk to GBV [gender base violence] and our voices are not being listened to by our Government. Also, a number of women with disabilities cannot accessing food and other essential commodities due to poverty as they have low income with no savings. Those living positive with HIV cannot access their ARVs [antiretroviral medications], due to the lockdown.”
At the ROFA IC (2019) conference Disabled people said that, “The capacity for DPO’s to function has been taken away and outsourced to non-DPOs like Leonard Cheshire international”. Disabled people have repeatedly demanded for Governments to be held accountable to address the unfair practices and disability discrimination globally.
In 1981 at the Disabled People’s International conference an important mantra was borne “nothing about us without us” to signify global solidarity. The significance of this mantra could not be no more relevant than today during this global crisis. It is important for countries to be reminded of their obligation under the UN CRPD, to have meaningful involvement of DPO’s in countries as well as across countries to ensure that we are not ignored from plans and changes to law. Disabled people have repeatedly demanded for UK DPO’s involvement in, “humanitarian response to support Disabled people in the context of a humanitarian disaster or catastrophe” (ROFA IC, 2019).
DPO’s have told us that there is even more of a greater need to improve circumstances for Disabled people globally.
DPO’s are demanding that Disabled people are no longer ignored from the development and implementations of Government Coronavirus plans. We want the following actions to be taken now, for the medium and long term to promote and protect Disabled people’s rights globally:
For more information, please contact ROFA IC Chairperson, Michelle Daley or Secretary, Mark Harrison email@example.com
1. ROFA International Committee (2019). Conference on UK Disability and Development Cooperation for Disabled People and Representatives of Disabled People’s Organisations. Available at: https://www.rofa.org.uk/conference-on-uk-disability-and-development-cooperation-for-disabled-people-and-representatives-of-disabled-peoples-organisations/
2. United Nations (2020a). Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Articles. Available at: https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities-2.html
3. United Nations (2020b). Policy Brief: A Disability-Inclusive Response to Covid-19. Available at: https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/sg_policy_brief_on_persons_with_disabilities_final.pdf
4. Powell, A., Jones, A., Kennedy, S., Jarrett, T. and Wilson, W. (2020).
The UN Inquiry into the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the UK, House of Commons Library. Available at: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-7367/
Reclaiming Our Future Alliance International Committee | 8th May 2020