Emergency situations such as earthquakes, flooding and war to name just a few, can destroy or forcibly remove whole communities from their homes.
Research published this year by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and HelpAge International has found that that a persons capacity to survive a humanitarian crisis correlates with their health and financial status. Sadly, this means that those who are ill or disabled have less chance of surviving a humanitarian crisis than a person in good health.
The study found that disabled survivors of disasters face significant barriers in accessing humanitarian support such as: having to travel long distances to collect aid provisions in person; a lack of accessible transport; inaccessible houses, toilets and public buildings; and even attitudinal barriers – at times being made to feel humiliated fortrying to access their rights in humanitarian settings.
Carers Worldwide in Emergencies
In the event of a crisis, we acknowledge the vulnerability of those living with illness or disability and how such situations can cause additional stress and worry for their carers who may face greater obstacles in ensuring the well-being of their dependants.
During the devastating earthquakes that occurred in Nepal in 2015, we launched an appeal in connection with our partners, BasicNeeds and LEADS Nepal to ensure the residents of the remote districts of Baglung and Myagdi were supported. This appeal specifically focused on individuals living with a mental illness or epilepsy, their carers and their families.
From the funds raised in this appeal, including a generous £5,000 donation from the Scott Bader Company Limited, we ensured that those residents had relief supplies and their homes repaired or rebuilt. We also ensured that they could access essential psychosocial support to prevent relapses of the conditions of dependants as the trauma caused by the earthquake it’s 100 aftershocks caused great risk to the mental wellbeing of those already living with a mental illness and in turn that of their carers.
Our emergency response was successful as it ensured dependants and their carers were supported in rebuilding their lives after the earthquake and enabled them to successfully re-enter our long-term support programmes.
The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and HelpAge International stress that NGOs, state welfare departments and healthcare providers need to make services and distributions inclusive and accessible during times of disaster.
We strongly encourage this recommendation, which will not only ensure the wellbeing of people living with disabilities and illnesses in emergency situations but will also help protect the wellbeing of the carers who support them. This can greatly reduce the anxiety felt in regard to how they will continue to provide a sufficient level of care, ensure that the needs of their family are met and their lives rebuilt.