June 16, 2021 8:50:46 pm
Among the many lessons that the pandemic has taught, it has also highlighted the plight of the marginalised in society. Especially for people with disabilities, it has been many months of struggle, especially with regard to accessibility to essentials like food, medicines, etc.
Speaking at an event titled ‘COVID-19 Pandemic and Disability Inclusive Disaster Management’ — organised by the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), a disability rights organisation — Arman Ali, the executive director of NCPEDP, said almost 67 per cent of people with disabilities did not have access to essentials like food, clothing, shelter, and children with disabilities have been particularly affected due to the closing of educational institutions adding to their exclusion.
The event was held on June 15, 2021, in collaboration with the World Institute on Disability and Disability Rights Fund (DRF).
According to a press release, the virtual event — through its sessions — threw light on the key findings and recommendations of the ‘Locked Down and Left Behind Report’ — COVID-19 and education of children with disabilities, government initiatives for people with disabilities during the pandemic, managing resources in terms of relief to people with disabilities, and funding for organisations of people with disabilities and good practices in ‘Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Management Systems’ in India.
Maj. Gen. MK Bindal, the executive director of National Institute of Disaster Management, said there are lots of gaps in policies, structures and legal provisions made for people with disabilities. “Accessibility, in terms of information, essentials, healthcare [has] acted as a major hindrance to people with disabilities,” he shared.
To this, Dr Humaa Masood, the programme officer (Gender and Education) Education Unit, UNESCO New Delhi, added that over 93 million children worldwide and 8 million in India were affected due to the closure of schools.
During the session, while Dr Muniraju SB of the Niti Aayog highlighted programs launched by the government during the pandemic, Dr Sruti Mohapatra, the vice chair of Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum (CDPF) and CEO of Swabhiman shared the concerns of women and children with disabilities. She said incidents of domestic violence and abuse on women with disabilities increased manifold during the pandemic. “The pandemic, compounded with the lockdown, worsened the situation of children with disabilities. With the inception of digital education, a huge number of children with disabilities dropped out of schools leaving their education in the lurch.”
Marcie Roth, executive director, World Institute on Disability said there is a need to bring together disability-led organisations and identify resources to provide disaster relief.
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