|The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities is very concerned about the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation’s military and the enormous humanitarian crisis that is unfolding. In this context, EASPD wishes to highlight the particularly vulnerable situation of many persons with disabilities living in Ukraine. Following a webinar this morning with key Ukrainian actors in the disability field, EASPD calls for urgent and concrete actions towards ensuring that persons with disabilities have the same access to shelters, mobility – including migration routes- and their basic needs (medicine, etc) as their peers.
Following the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation’s military forces, this morning EASPD organised a webinar to hear from Ukrainian actors active in the field of disability on their current situation and their most pressing needs. Speakers included Mr Valery Sushkevych, President of the National Assembly of People with Disabilities in Ukraine, Ms Nataliya Kabatsiy, Director of the NGO Medical Aid Committee in Transcarpathia and Ms Anna Kukuruza, President of the Charitable Foundation on Early Childhood Intervention in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
All speakers expressed deep worry and concern when explaining the situation persons with disabilities are currently facing during this conflict. Ms Anna Kukuruza explained how children with psychosocial conditions did not have access to their medication whilst Mr Valery Sushkevych spoke of the difficulties to access safe shelter: “The most vulnerable people in war are those with disabilities…like those who can’t hear, see, children with cerebral palsy, those in a wheelchair. How do they get to a shelter and are the shelters accessible?”
Responding to the critical messages around the situation of Ukrainians with disabilities from local civil society actors on the ground, Ms Maya Doneva, Secretary General EASPD, said that “the European community is demonstrating unprecedented political and military support to Ukraine during this crisis. Today, we heard from civil society, from representatives of persons with disabilities and their support organisations. Their message is clear: they need urgent, targeted and concrete measures to ensure that persons with disabilities are protected and supported in the right way.”
Mr Jim Crowe, President of EASPD, added that “this starts with individuals and organisations from across Europe who come together to demonstrate their solidarity. EASPD will work to coordinate this together with allies. This should also come from the EU Institutions to ensure that humanitarian support also targets the needs of persons with disabilities and their services organisations in Ukraine. In the days to come, EASPD will engage with the EU institutions to explore what more can be done to support persons with disabilities and their organisations in Ukraine”.