In a special report on the situation of people with disabilities in Ukraine, Jonas Ruskus, deputy chairman of the commission, said he was “gravely concerned” about the situation of people with disabilities in the country since its invasion on February 24.
Mr Ruskus told a press conference in Geneva that they are being held in “inhumane conditions” and their evacuation from residential institutions in conflict zones is not a priority.
Citing information from several disabled people’s organizations in the country, the CRPD vice-president revealed that the committee had learned that at least 12 disabled people had died in a residential institution in Russian-held territory.
He urged Ukraine and Russia to evacuate them immediately and ensure that the evacuation process is monitored by independent parties.
“Some people with disabilities in Ukraine remain trapped in life-threatening situations and need to be evacuated to ensure they can access basic needs like food and heating as winter approaches,” Mr. Ruskus to journalists.
He reminded all parties involved of their obligation to ensure that persons with disabilities, including in the current situation in Ukraine, have access to services and relief in communities on an equal basis with others.
Mr. Ruskus also called for rapid deinstitutionalization and investment in community services and called for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in decision-making processes whenever international cooperation funds are used.
Sound the alarm
Before the start of the conflict, around 2.7 million people in Ukraine were living with a disability.
In August, four UN-appointed independent human rights experts warned that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was having a “disproportionate impact” on people with disabilities, especially children in institutions.
UN experts have expressed hope that investments will be made to strengthen community support that will allow children with disabilities to thrive with their families and in family-like situations as opposed to institutions.
“We sincerely hope that Ukraine will commit to a better future for people with disabilities, especially children,” the experts said.
The CRPD findings were released on Friday along with other country reviews.
The report contains the main concerns and recommendations of the Committee regarding the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.