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Armed conflict disproportionately impacts on those with disabilities
Pic: Shutterstock

05 Dec 2022 / human rights Print

Conflict has a worse impact on those with disabilities

International Day of Persons with Disabilities falls each year on 3 December. The Law Society marked the occasion by highlighting the plight of disabled people in conflict zones, and the obligations on states to accommodate their needs.


Gary Lee (Chair of the Law Society’s Human Rights and Equality Committee) said: “All too often, people with disabilities are left behind when conflict zones are being evacuated.

“We have seen this in Ukraine, where those who are disabled are far less likely to safely evacuate than their non-disabled peers. Other issues arise, such as bomb shelters not being properly accessible – or no access to medication.”

Concerns in relation to disabled people in conflict zones have long been raised. Article 11 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) recognises this and provides that states “shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict”.

On 20 June 2019, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2475 (2019) to address the disproportionate impact of armed conflict and related humanitarian crises on people with disabilities.

The resolution emphasised that the needs of those with disabilities should be considered, and reminded states of their obligations, including those provided for in the UN CRPD.

States receiving those fleeing from conflict also have obligations. Ireland, for example, responding to this, has identified the special circumstances of persons with disabilities arriving from Ukraine.

The Health Service Executive has established a Rapid Response Disability Group specifically for disabled people arriving in the State from Ukraine.


States should be mindful of their international obligations, and prioritise the needs of people with disabilities: “With winter setting in, the situation is becoming even more critical. There has been a strong emphasis on military aid; however, it is essential that adequate resources be given to address the needs of people with disabilities in Ukraine,” Gary Lee said.

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