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South Sudan: Focus: South Sudan – Access to humanitarian services for persons with disabilities in Bentiu Protection of Civilians Site

Source: International Organization for Migration, Handicap International – Humanity & Inclusion
Country: South Sudan

A report recently published by HI and IOM[1] offers an assessment of the situation in the Bentiu Protection of Civilians (POC) Site in South Sudan, where people with disabilities live in difficult conditions and humanitarian services struggle to meet their needs. The report makes a number of recommendations.

South Sudan has forced many Southern Sudanese to flee to camps like Bentiu. Several humanitarian organisations are assisting the population in the field, but improvements must be made to ensure humanitarian response takes into account the needs and rights of people with disabilities.

Although conditions are extremely harsh for everyone living in the camp, people with disabilities are particularly vulnerable. Present in the field, HI and IOM have identified discriminating factors affecting people with disabilities and recommended ways to promote more inclusive humanitarian response.

Living conditions particularly harsh for people with disabilities

People with disabilities in Bentiu camp are unable to fully benefit from the site’s humanitarian infrastructure and services. Major barriers identified include long distances, inaccessible infrastructure and roads, information formats poorly adapted to their disability, and discrimination. A total of 49% of surveyed people with disabilities reported particular difficulty accessing clean drinking water due to the distance to water pumps and unsuitable road surfaces. Many people reported difficulty moving around their shelter. Children with disabilities cannot access child-friendly spaces.

Although there are priority queues at food distribution sites, people with disabilities are finding it difficult to get their rations home safely because containers are unsuitable and often stolen by others on the way home.

These are just some of the discriminating factors that make daily life more difficult for people with disabilities in the camp.

Developing inclusive humanitarian services is possible

Prioritising funding for inclusive programmes, adapting infrastructure and information sources, improving mechanisms to protect against abusive behaviour, and requesting technical support from local and international disability representatives are among the ways humanitarian services can be made more inclusive.

Funding bodies, camp coordinators and humanitarian organisations can ensure that people with disabilities feel protected and involved in sites like Bentiu. By adapting their activities to meet the needs of people with disabilities, humanitarian actors can optimise services for people living in camps and help ensure inclusive and accessible humanitarian assistance for all.

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