The European Network on Independent Living – ENIL and the ENIL Youth Network are extremely concerned about the situation of disabled people during the ongoing and devastating war in Ukraine, including the fate of the tens of thousands disabled children and adults in institutional care facilities. We are also concerned that the war will result in many more people becoming disabled and needing support.

With the European Union and other countries mobilised and united to help the people of Ukraine, we would like to see targeted efforts to address the situation of disabled people and their families, including internally disabled persons and refugees. There is a need for a disability-inclusive response, which will ensure that adequate support, accessible accommodation (including shelter), transport, technical aids, living supplies and access to health care and medication are available to all those in need. Furthermore, all disabled people must be informed about how to keep safe and evacuated from inaccessible buildings and houses.

Countries receiving refugees from Ukraine must ensure access to personal assistance for disabled people, accessible information, and other types of support and services. Involvement of disabled people and their organisations in this process is crucial, to identify everyone’s needs and ensure appropriate action is taken.

With tens of thousands of children and adults in institutions, there is a need to guarantee their safety and to put in place emergency deinstitutionalisation, wherever that is possible. In the past, ENIL has expressed concern about the situation of disabled people in Ukraine’s institutions, especially those of thousands of disabled children in institutions and boarding schools, and people in psychiatric institutions. There is no information available about their situation at the moment. There is a great risk that these people will be abandoned, left to face abuse, neglect and other human rights violations, or left to die.

ENIL and its Youth Network would like to reiterate the call of the disability community demanding respect of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including Article 11 on situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies.

Every person has the right to safety and shelter during war and crisis. Every person has the right to be a part of society and the right to not being left behind or abandoned. The war needs to stop. Peace is a human right.

Please consider donating to this appeal by Ukraine’s disability community, as a way to support them. Thank you.