Amnesty International examined the hardships of Yemen’s war on people with disabilities

Living with disabilities in Yemen's armed conflict

Amnesty International has released a study examining the impacts of Yemen’s war on people with disabilities. The study was conducted in southern governorates at formal and informal camps for internally displaced people (IDPs), with further research covering non-IDP settings. Amnesty requested to conduct research in Houthi-controlled areas but was rejected. 

Major findings include how disabled Yemenis lack equal access to facilities in IDP camps and how the shattered Yemeni economy and the absence of public services place a high burden on the socioeconomic well-being of disabled people. 

To improve the situation, Amnesty recommends training staff in the IDP camps about the needs of people with disabilities, setting up camps that accommodate disabled people and make information about the services available to disabled Yemenis and easy to understand.

A quintessential challenge faced by disabled Yemenis is a lack of accommodations.

“Persons with disabilities spoke of difficulties obtaining equal access to services and facilities in camps for displaced persons,” the report said. “The few who did have wheelchairs said they were not suitable for the rugged terrain in the camps, were generally of low quality and did not facilitate their autonomy and independence.” 

Because many Yemenis with disabilities don’t have wheelchairs, crutches or other assistive devices, their families often have to carry them, the report notes. Traveling long distances can make people’s disabilities worse and some people may develop a disability while trying to find safety. 

Hundreds of thousands of Yemeni IDPs are now housed in ad-hoc refugee camps that weren’t designed or staffed with disabled people in mind. 

For example, available toilets can be difficult for people with disabilities to use, food and water may be located far away and staff may not know how to obtain medical devices like wheelchairs or hearing aids. 

While staff try to help disabled people in the camps, they are often left out, the report finds.

Disabled people who remain in their homes are also subject to increasingly difficult conditions, given the general absence of public services and government support, extreme price inflation and blockades preventing the flow of goods and services in certain areas.“There has been less money from the government since the war started,” the report notes, which “means that many people with disabilities are too poor to buy the things they need.” 

The absence of government support undermines the accommodations that do exist. While laws have been passed to help provide disabled Yemenis with jobs, the laws aren’t being enforced.

An overview of the report is available here.




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