Disability and disasters
Natural and man-made disasters tend to have a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities. This issue is recognised and addressed by Article 11 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which states:
States Parties shall take, in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters."
There is limited research knowledge, but many anecdotal reports, on what happens when disasters impact people with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities may be greatly affected by natural disasters. Those with physical disabilities can be at risk when evacuating if assistance is not available. Individuals with cognitive impairments may struggle with understanding instructions that must be followed in the event a disaster occurs. Those who are blind, hearing impaired, etc. may have difficulty communicating during the emergency. All of these factors can increase the degree of variation of risk in disaster situations with disabled individuals.
Some research studies have found discrimination against individuals with disabilities during all phases of the disaster cycle. The most common limitation is that people cannot physically access buildings or transport, as well as access disaster-related services. The exclusion of these individuals is caused in part by the lack of disability-related training provided to emergency planners and disaster relief personnel.
Disability in disaster management planning
Disability as a factor in disaster planning is an issue that is receiving attention from some disaster management jurisdictions while various disability rights organizations are active in lobbying and education efforts for authorities to include the needs of disabled members of the public in their planning.
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