UN Security Council Adopts First-Ever Resolution on Persons with Disabilities

NEW YORK, NY – The United Nations (UN) Security Council on World Refugee Day adopted its first-ever resolution on persons with disabilities in conflict. The resolution was unanimously adopted by all 15 Security Council members.

The resolution recognizes the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on persons with disabilities; urges Member States to enable the meaningful participation and representation of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action, conflict prevention, reconciliation and peacebuilding; and urges Member States to take steps to eliminate discrimination and marginalization of persons with disabilities.

A Commitment to Refugees with Disabilities

This blog was cross-posted from Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Last week, the Women's Refugee Commission was honored to accept InterAction’s 2019 Disability Inclusion Award. This recognition by our peers is especially meaningful, given our longstanding commitment to promoting disability inclusion in humanitarian response.

Shifting power: What does localization of humanitarian aid look like for women and girls with disabilities?

This blog is cross-posted from Medium.

As the organization I work for, the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), attends Women Deliver this week in Vancouver, Canada, I am excited to see so many people–famous or otherwise–show up for gender equality in what promises to be one of the “biggest-ever global conversations about the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women.”

With women and girls with disabilities making up at least 20% of the population in developing countries and more than half of over 10 million persons with disabilities who have been forcibly displaced, we think it is critical they are part of this wider conversation.

Women’s Refugee Commission Addresses the UNSC Arria Formula Meeting on the Situation of Persons with Disabilities in Armed Conflict

On December 3, 2018, in observance of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, WRC Executive Director Sarah Costa delivered an intervention from the floor at the UN Security Council Arria Formula Meeting on the situation of persons with disabilities in armed conflict.

Women's Refugee Commission Addresses the UNSC Arria Formula Meeting on the situation of persons with disabilities in armed conflict

On December 3, 2018, in observance of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, WRC Executive Director Sarah Costa delivered an intervention from the floor at the UN Security Council Arria Formula Meeting on the situation of persons with disabilities in armed conflict.

Engaging Organizations of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Responses

This project report captures 10 years of work by the Women’s Refugee Commission on the inclusion of disability in humanitarian responses. The report covers early research on refugees with disabilities and subsequent work on disability inclusion, including the target areas of gender-based violence, child protection, and sexual and reproductive health. Later presented work focuses on engaging organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) in humanitarian responses—both as expert resources to inform humanitarian actors as well as sources of information, services, and social support for refugees with disabilities living in their host communities. The report concludes with recent work on soliciting input from DPO networks on the Guidelines on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, which are currently under development.

Out of Excuses: The Time is Now to Bring Women with Disabilities into Humanitarian Response

This blog was cross-posted from Medium.

When a population is seen as vulnerable, the immediate instinct of the development and humanitarian community often is to protect. But what if, instead of protection, the instinct was to include, to engage, and to leverage people’s skills and capacities?

At High-Level Summit, WRC Executive Director Underscores Vital Importance of Including Women and Girls with Disabilities in Humanitarian Response

LONDON — The Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) Executive Director Sarah Costa today highlighted the critical importance of including refugee women and girls with disabilities in humanitarian action during the first-ever Global Disability Summit, hosted by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the International Disability Alliance (IDA).

IASC Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action: Asia Regional Consultation with GBV & Gender Actors Workshop Report, May 2018

The development of IASC Disability Guidelines mark a significant step in advancing accountability for the inclusion of persons with disabilities within the inter-agency coordination mechanism. Ensuring non-discrimination requires that such guidelines be gender-sensitive, as well as relevant and appropriate to GBV actors working humanitarian settings globally. 

Celebrating Ten Years of Disability Work at WRC

“I think it is important to share with you that I am a woman who has a disability. This doesn’t stop me though... I feel I have a very important job to do. I am working to make women and girls safer… those who are not always included in activities, those who are often forgotten about. I can remember times when that was me... Now, I am very active, I am a leader in our community… and I work as a social worker. I feel I have valuable things to add and that I can advocate for [them] because I understand their needs.” (Mieraf, My’ani Camp)

Helpdesk Report: Women and girls with disabilities in conflict and crises

What risks/vulnerabilities do women and girls with disabilities affected by conflict and crises face? What is the available evidence on interventions to support women and girls with disabilities affected by conflict/crises?d

11 Experts to Watch on Refugee Health

Refugee health has been called “a public health crisis of this century,” needing as much attention and collaboration over resources as global epidemics such as polio and HIV/AIDS.

From war trauma to women’s health, refugees have a complex spectrum of medical needs, bringing challenges for displaced populations, their host countries and aid organizations.

Many refugees who have fled war or ethnic and political violence are exposed to exploitation and abuse along their migration route, leaving them vulnerable to mental health issues such as depression, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some children born in conflict zones may have to deal with toxic stress for their entire lives.

Women's Refugee Commission at 10th Session of the Conference of State Parties

The Women's Refugee Commission will be participating in the 10th Session of the Conference of State Parties (COSP10) to the CRPD taking place at the U.N. Headquarters from June 13 - 15, 2017. 

Syria: Seven Years, 11 Million People, No End in Sight

In March, the Syrian conflict enters into its seventh year. This protracted war has created nearly 5 million refugees and 6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).  In Lebanon, one in five people in the country are Syrian refugees; there are more than 600,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan; and there are more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey.

Since 2013, the WRC has been at the forefront of humanitarian efforts to research and develop guidance for the women, children, and youth refugees affected by the Syrian crisis.

Women's Refugee Commission at CSW61

Women's Refugee Commission will be participating in the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

This year’s theme is women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work, with an additional focus on empowering indigenous women.

The sessions begin on Monday, March 13 and will run through March 24, 2017.

Protecting Women Refugees as Part of International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day, is a global celebration of women everywhere. It is a rallying call—both for reflection on how far we’ve come, and for accelerating momentum towards gender equality. Core to achieving our agenda is the prevention of all forms of violence against women. Despite notable progress over the decades, thousands of women have recently been dealt a serious and potentially deadly setback: The women who are refugees and asylum seekers looking to the U.S. for safety and protection.

Advocating for the Disabled

More than 50 million refugees live in the world today, and the World Health Organization estimates there are several million people with disabilities among them. About half of the world’s 65 million children with disabilities do not attend school. Fortunately, the problem has not gone unnoticed. Ensuring healthy lives and promoting the wellbeing of all is included in the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. And thankfully, organizations like Disability Rights International, the Women’s Refugee Commission and Handicap International are advocating for the disabled on a global scale.

NGOs Call for Better Protection for Female Refugees in Europe

This year more than 170,000 people have risked their lives attempting to reach Europe from Turkey via Greece. Their journeys are perilous and they face uncertain futures when they reach Europe. But for women, the risks are amplified because of inadequate facilities at reception centers. Yet governments and humanitarian organizations are failing to meet their specific needs.

“It is traumatic for women to stay in a variety of places and detention centers. It can be unsafe and they are unable to get access to protection and services,” Sarah Costa, executive director of the WRC, tells Equal Times.

WRC, along with other women’s rights organizations, are pressuring the EU to change its approach. In June, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) partnered with the WRC to launch #WomensVoices, a campaign to raise awareness of the situation facing the women and girls in Europe who are fleeing conflict. The aim is to influence decision-makers, through a series of recommendations, events, and members’ networking across Europe, to put violence against refugee women on the European political agenda.

Five Reasons Why Disability Matters in a Crisis

As social and community structures break down during a crisis, protection threats build up. In these scenarios, people with disabilities are at a much higher risk of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, in part because they are often more isolated and have less access to protection services. Research from the Women’s Refugee Commission shows that women and girls with disabilities are particularly at risk of sexual and gender-based violence. However, they may not be able to access support for survivors due to difficulties in reaching services and communicating their needs, or for fear that their accounts will not be taken seriously.

We Stand With Refugee Women and Girls

At a time when violence has forced record numbers of people to flee their homes, the Women’s Refugee Commission urges the incoming Administration and Congress to maintain strong bipartisan support for life-saving humanitarian assistance and unwavering leadership on the protection of human rights, including the right to asylum.