Online event: Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the COVID-19 Response: Applying the IASC Guidelines

While the COVID-19 pandemic is seriously affecting the health, livelihoods, and overall wellbeing of people all over the world, persons with disabilities are disproportionately impacted. The risk factors and consequences of COVID-19 on people with disabilities are even further exacerbated in humanitarian contexts. Persons with disabilities may be at heightened risk of contracting or developing a more severe case of COVID-19 due to barriers to accessing information, preventative measures and health services, while some people may be at heightened risk due to underlying health conditions or reliance on personal assistance. Further, COVID-19 has compounded exclusion of children with disabilities from education; increased risks of violence, exploitation and abuse; and deepened other pre-existing inequalities and marginalization.

To address this situation, how can we ensure that persons with disabilities are included in all aspects of response to COVID-19 in humanitarian contexts? On 17 September, during a webinar organized jointly by ICVA, PHAP, IASC, and the Reference Group on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, we discussed how the IASC Guidelines on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action can be implemented in the COVID-19 response. We started with a presentation of the recent note produced by the Reference Group and endorsed by the IASC on this topic, followed by a discussion of challenges in the current response and ways to overcome them.

The webinar shared practical examples of how response to COVID-19 in humanitarian contexts has been made more inclusive of persons with disabilities, drawing on learning from the past 6+ months to present concrete actions that humanitarian actors can take, in partnership with local organizations of persons with disabilities. The webinar aimed to provide a space for learning and exchange of experience between organizations of persons with disabilities, NGOs, UN entities, and other humanitarian actors.

Target audience and event access

Humanitarian practitioners, particularly NGO staff and organisations of persons with disabilities, who are involved in the decision-making and implementation of multi-sectorial COVID-19 outbreak readiness and response activities in humanitarian settings.

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Note that the event will also have live captions in English.

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Sharaf Al Faqawi Sharaf Al Faqawi Education Project Manager in Palestine, Humanity & Inclusion
Dalal Al-Taji Dalal Al-Taji Head of Continuing Education Department, Palestine Red Crescent Society
Christiana Asante-Nkansah Christiana Asante-Nkansah Communications Specialist, Plan International Ghana
Rosario Galarza Rosario Galarza Human Rights Officer, RIADIS
Kirstin Lange Kirstin Lange Programme Specialist (Disability Inclusive Humanitarian Action), UNICEF
Agnes Olulese Agnes Olulese Protection Officer, IOM
Agnes Patongloan Agnes Patongloan Project Manager, ASB Indonesia and the Philippines
Gabriel Soto Gabriel Soto Director for the Southern Cone region, RIADIS
Edy Supriyanto Edy Supriyanto Founder and chairman, SEHATI Sukoharjo
Henry Swaka Henry Swaka Disability Inclusion Assistant, IOM


Angharad Laing Angharad Laing Executive Director, PHAP
Mirela Shuteriqi Mirela Shuteriqi Director of Policy, ICVA

Event exercise charts

During the event, we ran two brief exercises on how to ensure that COVID-19 response in humanitarian settings is inclusive. You can find the final results of these exercises below.

WordCloud: What are the key elements to making the response in humanitarian settings inclusive?

Prioritized first steps: An organization asks you: ”What can we practically do TODAY to get started?” Which ONE of the following would you prioritize?