The photos are generic taken randomly in the conference room and feel free to caption them wisely
The photos are generic taken randomly in the conference room and feel free to caption them wisely

The formal adoption took place at the fourth International Humanitarian Partnership Conference (HPC) hosted by the Inter Agency Working Group (IAWG) to East and Central Africa. The Charter, that was developed and passed at the World Humanitarian Summit on 23 and 24 May 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey, urges for inclusion of age and disability in all responses to conflicts and natural disasters, by all humanitarian practitioners.

The photos are generic taken randomly in the conference room and feel free to caption them wisely
The photos are generic taken randomly in the conference room and feel free to caption them wisely
According to the experts at the 2016 International Humanitarian Partnership Conference (HPC), older people and people with disabilities make up a significant and growing proportion of disaster-affected populations, yet they continue to face neglect in disaster preparedness as well as disaster response by national governments and national and international aid providers.
An interview of women and men aged 60 and over in Lebanon, South Sudan and Ukraine in 2015 by HelpAge International revealed neglect that reflects the reality for older people caught up in disasters across the globe.

Dr. Prafulla Mishra, Regional Director, HelpAge International noted that although humanitarian aid helps, it however only helps those who can go and get it. “How can aid supposed to get to those who can’t even leave the room either because of old age or disability?” He asked adding that the experience of South Sudan shows that now is the time to start listening and act to address the current neglect older people experience in emergencies. “Older people must be supported to access humanitarian response in line with the core principles of humanity and impartiality.

“The omission of persons with disabilities and of those aged 60 and above from humanitarian assistance – or unintentionally hampering their access to such assistance – is much more than a blind spot; this is against the fundamental principle of impartiality and is discriminatory,” said George Njeru, Coordinator, Inter Agency Working Group (IAWG) to East and Central Africa.

The experts highlighted that disability and age affect people differently, and humanitarian actors need to ensure that people with disabilities and older people receive humanitarian assistance that is responsive to their gender-specific vulnerabilities, needs and capacities.

The conference, hosted at the Boma Inn Hotel in Nairobi, comes against the background of recent conflicts in the horn of Africa. According to experts at the conference, when conflicts arise, people flee their homes for safety and have their livelihoods either shattered or completely changed.

The risk of acquiring disability increases in such situations due to injuries, poor health care and failure to manage non-communicable diseases as a result of stress of not knowing what next to do, where next one’s meal will come or even just thinking about scattered family members whose whereabouts you do not know. Older age only heightens the problem. Currently, two thirds of older people live in low- and middle-income countries, where disasters are more likely to occur.

According to the 2011 World Report on Disability by the World Health Organisation/World Bank, there are an estimated 1 billion persons with disabilities worldwide. This is about 15% of the world’s population.

Delegates at the multi-sectoral conference called on national governments and colleagues in the field to ensure that across the development sphere, people with disabilities and older people affected by crisis are recognized to ensure they receive assistance that is appropriate and relevant to their needs, and that they have access to the humanitarian assistance they need.

“It is worth noting that out of the 169 targets across the 17 SDG Goals, seven targets have an explicit reference to persons with disabilities. Furthermore, all Goals and targets are applicable to persons with disabilities by the simple virtue of universality, which means that the SDGs apply to all persons under overarching principle of “leaving no one behind,” said David Munyendo, Kenya Country Representative, CBM.

“This implies that persons with disabilities should and will be recognized as equal partners, and be consulted by Governments, the UN system, civil society and other stakeholders. This is the true spirit of inclusion,” added Mr. Munyendo

Additionally, there was general consensus the two groups should be cushioned against being negatively affected, and made more prepared, resilient and less at-risk as a result of humanitarian action, in the true spirit of the Charter.

“Efforts should be made to ensure that they know their rights and entitlements, have access to information, and participate in decisions that affect them on an equal basis with others, they receive and participate in coordinated and complementary assistance on an equal basis with others and get assistance from competent and well-managed staff and volunteers skilled and equipped to include them in humanitarian responses,” added Sheila, the chair of the IAWG Humanitarian learning & Partnership (HLP) sub group.

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