Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

03.12.2016 - Press release

On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (3 December):

In the field of humanitarian assistance, Germany places a special focus on people with disabilities. For we have to ensure that the rights of all people, whether with or without disabilities, are respected – at all times and in all places – even in armed conflicts and crisis situations.

The topic of inclusion in humanitarian assistance received considerable support at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. The Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action was officially proclaimed and, with more than 100 signatories, including Germany, met with widespread support.

Yet the goal is to anchor inclusion even more firmly in humanitarian assistance and to consider the needs of people with disabilities systematically at all stages of humanitarian action. After all, 75% of people with disabilities living in emergency situations do not have adequate access to water, food, healthcare and shelter.

Inclusion is a cross‑cutting task which always needs to be taken into account. The Federal Foreign Office also requires its partners responsible for implementing humanitarian assistance in various countries to incorporate inclusion in their strategies.

The first priority is to remove barriers: specifically, to ensure physical access, also for the distribution of emergency supplies, but also to make use of various modes of communication (written and audio, easy language, images, sign language) in order to reach more people.

Moreover, people with disabilities have many skills that they have acquired over the course of their lives which people without disabilities do not possess. Humanitarian assistance needs to enable people with disabilities to share their experiences and perspectives.

People with disabilities have the right to lead a life in dignity and participate in society. We will naturally continue to work to counteract the stigma that still exist and to protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities throughout the world.

Background information:

Germany works throughout the world to protect the rights of people with disabilities. This year a new national action plan (NAP 2.0) was adopted to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Germany takes into account the Charter itself, as well as the implementation of the voluntary commitments made during the World Humanitarian Summit in the area of inclusion, both in the strategic planning of its humanitarian assistance and in the Federal Foreign Office’s practical support for humanitarian projects.

Together with its partners, Germany is working to anchor cross‑cutting issues, including those concerning people with disabilities, more firmly in humanitarian assistance, with regard to raising awareness of particular needs as well as in connection with application procedures and the implementation of humanitarian measures.

In cooperation with Handicap International and CBM, the Federal Foreign Office is implementing a project designed to pass on the know‑how of these organisations to state and non‑state players involved in German humanitarian assistance. The goal is for the inclusion and participation of people with disabilities to become systematically anchored in programmes and organisational structure as a cross‑cutting issue.


Rights of persons with disabilities

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