The European Down Syndrome Association (EDSA) calls for all parties to ensure the protection and safety of persons with Down Syndrome and other disabilities in Ukraine.
In any situation of crisis or conflict, persons with Down Syndrome face disproportionate risk of abandonment, violence and a lack of access to safety, relief and recovery support. Women with Down Syndrome and other disabilities are at increased risk of sexual violence and children with disabilities are more exposed to abuse and neglect. Crucial information on safety and evacuation is too often inaccessible to persons with Down Syndrome, putting them at huge risk. Persons with Down Syndrome have reduced mobility and are less likely to be able to evacuate conflict zones at short notice.
The European Down Syndrome Association urges all parties to respect their obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in particular, Article 11 on situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies, the UN Security Council Resolution 2475 (2019) on Protection of Persons with Disabilities in Conflict, and to adhere to international humanitarian law and the humanitarian principles.
We call on the political leadership involved in this crisis to ensure that persons with Down Syndrome and other disabilities must, on equal basis with all other civilians;
- be protected from violence, abuse and ill treatment
- have full access to all humanitarian aid, and
- full access to basic services including water and sanitation, education, healthcare, transport and information.
- Ensure guidance to civilians is accessible and understandable for all
Particular attention must be paid to those who are most at risk – including women and children with Down Syndrome, and other persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, and persons with high support needs.
Moreover, in line with CRPD article 4.3, EDSA calls on duty bearers to ensure the meaningful participation of persons with disabilities, including their representative organisations, in all levels and at all stages of the conflict and ongoing humanitarian actions.
EDSA continues to monitor the situation, being in contact with our partners in the region.