EDF: Our members update on crisis response during Ukraine war

EDF: Our members update on crisis response during Ukraine war
2 Липня 2022
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We and our members held a discussion about the situation in Ukraine during our General AssemblyWe presented our Ukraine programme, aimed at providing support to persons with disabilities affected by the war. 

Gordon Rattray, our Programme Coordinator, shared the three objectives around which the programme is centred and what we are doing to achieve them: 

  • Addressing the immediate needs of persons with disabilities: food and essential items; accessible information and assistive technology; accessible transport to and from shelters, borders and transit shelters;
  • Influencing the wider humanitarian response to make it disability-inclusive. It includes advocating to the larger humanitarian organisations and government departments providing humanitarian aid for Ukrainian refugees and raising the issue of disability inclusion in the media; 
  • Strengthening the capacity of our members and the disability community by providing training, including on safety and security, and data gathering, and using our members’ expertise to promote disability inclusion within the wider humanitarian community. 

Three representatives from our member organisations presented their efforts and achievements: 

Gunta Anca shared the work that her organisationSUSTENTO, is conducting in Latvia: 

  • Providing tailored individual support according to people’s needs, including food, essential items and medical supplies; 
  • Organising the evacuation of 141 people from an institution in the Donetsk region with accessible buses and facilitate their inclusion in social care centres in Latvia; 
  • Meeting with the Ukrainian ambassador in Latvia, and members of the Latvian government, to advocate for more support and attention to refugees with disabilities. 

Branislav Mamojka, from the Slovak Disability Council, reported that his organisation is involved in: 

  • Constructing transit shelters and providing essential items, equipment and technical aid; 
  • Supporting local DPOs that are giving help to Ukrainian refugees in Slovakia; 
  • Cooperating with UN agencies such as UNICEF, IOM and UNHCR. 

Dovilé Juodkaité, from the Lithuanian Disability Forum, shared their work: 

  • Coordinating with informal groups of NGOs to support Ukrainian refugees and ensuring the inclusion of specific needs and identification of persons with disabilities; 
  • Working with five major humanitarian organisations dealing with refugees (such as the Red Cross and Caritas) to raise awareness and build capacity on disability needs and assessment; 
  • Influencing the national institutions to develop disability-inclusive evacuation and information provision plans for humanitarian crises.
  • The Lithuanian Disability Forum also became a member of the government’s official working group responding to crises. The Forum is now also incorporating disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in its long-term plans.

The session inspired a very engaging conversation among guests from our member organisations, who shared questions, opinions and best practices.  

Sorin Țața reported that the Romanian Disability National Council compensated for its small size by developing partnerships with other organisations and government task forces involved in the response. They were able to help several beneficiaries with their basic needs and medical support, and to monitor their situation across the country, also due to our assistance. 

Marica Miric from the Croatian Union of Associations of Persons with Disabilities, said that her organisation cooperates with a person from Ukraine who provides language support and offers Ukrainian language classes for the whole team.  She also stressed the importance of capacity-building and the development of specific guidelines to make sure, among other things, that Article 11 (humanitarian action) of the CRPD is followed. 

Maureen Piggott, from Inclusion Europe, suggested that specific attention needs to be dedicated to children and adults with intellectual disabilities, especially those living in institutions.  

Jolijn Santegoeds, from the European Network of (ex) Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, called for us to support the shift from institute to community-based care in the reconstruction process in Ukraine. 

The consensus is that cooperation between organisations of persons with disabilities, and preparedness for future scenarios, are essential to make the humanitarian response faster and more impactful.
We also need to monitor the needs of refugees with disabilities to provide them with the support they require.

EDF’s Ukraine programme is funded by CBM. To learn more about our programme, please visit our dedicated page.


For more information, please contact
Giulia D’Agnolo
Communication and Knowledge Management Officer – International Cooperation

Our members update on crisis response during Ukraine war