Survivors are exposed to physical, cultural and social barriers which handicap their lives without access to rehabilitation assistance.
The Engine of Economic Growth
There is a large and growing number of persons with disabilities in war zones. In most areas, at least one person out of 10 is disabled by physical, mental or sensory impairment, and at least 25 percent of any population is adversely affected by the presence of a disability.
The causes of impairments vary throughout the world, as do the prevalence and consequences of disability. These variations are the result of different socio-economic circumstances and of the different provisions that each society makes for the well-being of its members.
A survey carried out by experts has produced the estimate of at least 350 million disabled persons living in areas where the services needed to assist them in overcoming their limitations are not available.
While the risk of impairment is much greater for the poverty-stricken, the converse is also true. The birth of an impaired child, or the occurrence of disability in the family, often places heavy demands on the limited resources of the family and strains on its morale, thus thrusting it deeper into poverty.
The combined effect of these factors results in higher proportions of disabled persons among the poorest strata of society. For this reason, the number of affected families living at the poverty level steadily increases in absolute terms.
The negative impact of these trends seriously hinders the development process.
Existing knowledge and skills could prevent the onset of many impairments and disabilities, could assist affected people in overcoming or minimizing their disabilities, and could enable nations to remove barriers which exclude disabled persons from everyday life.
Of the estimated 650 million people with disabilities the world over, 80 percent of the world’s disability community lives in developing countries. What’s more, an estimated 20 percent of the poorest people in the world have disabilities.
A structure in a medical compound in the Nuba mountains damaged by a bomb dropped on their location.
Lack of Medical Attention
The problems of disability in developing countries need to be specially highlighted. As many as 80 percent of all disabled persons live in isolated rural areas in developing countries.
In war zones, the percentage of the disabled population is estimated to be as high as 40 percent and, thus, if families and relatives are included, 50 percent of the population could be adversely affected by disability.
The problem is made more complex by the fact that, for the most part, disabled persons are also usually extremely poor people. They often live in areas where medical and other related services are scarce, or even totally absent, and where disabilities are not and cannot be detected in time.
When they do receive medical attention, if they receive it at all, the impairment may have become irreversible. In many countries, resources are not sufficient to detect and prevent disability and to meet the need for the rehabilitation and supportive services of the disabled population.
Trained personnel, research into newer and more effective strategies and approaches to rehabilitation and the manufacturing and provision of aids and equipment for disabled persons are quite inadequate.
In such countries, the disability problem is further compounded by the population explosion, which inexorably pushes up the number of disabled persons in both proportional and absolute terms. There is, thus, an urgent need, as the first priority, to help such countries to develop demographic policies to prevent an increase in the disabled population and to rehabilitate and provide services to the already disabled.
The consequences of deficiencies and disablement are particularly serious for women.
There are a great many countries where women are subjected to social, cultural and economic disadvantages which impede their access to, for example, health care, education, vocational training, and employment.
If, in addition, they are physically or mentally disabled, their chances of overcoming their disablement are diminished, which makes it all the more difficult for them to take part in community life. In families, the responsibility for caring for a disabled parent often lies with women, which considerably limits their freedom and their possibilities of taking part in other activities.
For many children, the presence of an impairment leads to rejection or isolation from experiences that are part of normal development. This situation may be exacerbated by faulty family and community attitudes and behavior during the critical years when children's personalities and self-images are developing.
Victims of torture who have been disabled physically or mentally, not by accident of birth or normal activity, but by the deliberate infliction of injury, form another group of disabled persons.
There are over 10 million refugees and displaced persons in the world today as a result of man-made disasters. Many of them are disabled physically and psychologically as a result of their sufferings from persecution, violence, and hazards.
Most are in third-world countries, where services and facilities are extremely limited. Being a refugee is in itself a handicap, and a disabled refugee is doubly handicapped.
Workers employed abroad often find themselves in a difficult situation associated with a series of handicaps resulting from differences in environment, lack or inadequate knowledge of the language of the country of immigration, prejudice and discrimination, lack or deficiency of vocational training, and inadequate living conditions.
The special position of migrant workers in the country of employment exposes them and their families to health hazards and increased risk of occupational accidents which frequently lead to impairment or disability.
The situation of disabled migrant workers may be further aggravated by the necessity for them to return to the country of origin, where, in most cases, special services and facilities for the disabled are very limited.
Poverty increases the prevalence of disability as poor people are more at risk of acquiring disability because of lack of access to good nutrition, health care, sanitation, as well as safe living and working conditions.
Once this occurs, people face barriers to education, employment, and public services that can help them escape poverty.
Warfare and violence in developing countries have profound effects on disability. Consider the reality that 3 children become disabled due to violence for every 1 child that is killed in warfare. It’s estimated that up to 25 percent of disabilities in some developing countries result from violence and warfare.
We increase activities to prevent impairment, such as the improvement of hygiene, education and nutrition; better access to food and health care through primary health care approaches, with special attention to mother and child care; counselling parents on genetic and prenatal care factors; immunization and control of diseases and infections; accident prevention; and improving the quality of the environment. In some parts of the world, such measures have a significant impact on the incidence of physical and mental impairment.
Rehabilitation services are often provided by specialized institutions and we partner with them to extend their services to developing countries.
Our programs involve communities and families and help them to support the efforts of their disabled members to overcome the disabling effects of impairment within a normal social environment.
Increasingly it is being recognized that even severely disabled persons can, to a great extent, live independently if the necessary support services are provided.
Many people need simple equipment to facilitate mobility, communication, and daily living. Such aids are produced and available in some countries. In many other countries, however, they cannot be obtained because of a lack of their availability and/or of a high cost. Increasing attention is being given to the design of simpler, less expensive devices, with local methods of production which are more easily adapted to the country concerned, more appropriate to the needs of most disabled persons and more readily available to them.
Your support provides opportunities for vulnerable women and young people in war zones and other vulnerable victims of injustice to access clean water as well as hygiene and sanitation programs.
Join our community by making a one-time donation or, give monthly, or quarterly, or yearly and transform lives of survivors of war and genocide today.