Launch of a guidance note by WHO and partners
People with disabilities are disproportionately affected in emergencies and experience particularly high rates of mortality in these contexts. To mark International Day for Disaster Reduction 2013, CBM, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the World Health Organization release today a guidance note to highlight the needs of people with disabilities before, during and after emergencies.
Emergencies can increase the vulnerability of people with disabilities, as people with disabilities may be less able to escape from hazards; may lose essential medications or assistive devices such as spectacles or hearing and mobility aids; or may be left behind when a community is forced to evacuate. People with disabilities may also have greater difficulty accessing basic needs, including food, water, shelter, latrines and health-care services. Following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011, statistics showed that the fatality rate for people with disabilities was twice that of non-disabled people.
The results of the first-ever UN global survey of persons living with disabilities on how they cope with disasters, illustrates why they die, or are injured, in disproportionate numbers in disasters. An estimated 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability.