Assistance for refugees with disabilities in South Sudan continues despite insecurity
Published: 16 June 2015
|There are places in the world that are unsafe because of war and conflict.
Sometimes, it is so bad that people have to leave their houses,
In spite of the ongoing fighting in South Sudan, Toyin Janet Aderemi, program manager for Light For The World, continues to provide support to people with disabilities in the region. “Each and every refugee is very valuable”, she says, “but refugees with a disability have an extra hard time, therefore they need our extra support.”
Light For The World is a European confederation of national development NGOs that all strive for an inclusive society, in which people with disabilities can lead a dignified life, participate in their community and enjoy their rights. It also operates in severe conflict areas such as South Sudan, where Toyin Janet Aderemi oversees rehabilitation services for hundreds of children and adults with disabilities. As for Aderemi, she knows her target group since she herself lives with a disability. Being unable to walk since her childhood has not stopped her from continuously assisting refugees and IDP’s with disabilities.
According to her, being a woman with a disability and a wheelchair user is more of an advantage than a disadvantage, since this allows her to understand the situation of those she works with much better: “When I talk to people, they listen because they know I went through the very same thing. I can also use my experience when the refugee camp needs to be restructured, by suggesting what can be improved in order to include people with disabilities”.
She points out that people with disabilities are usually marginalized in any population. During times of war they tend to be more vulnerable than others : “when there are conflicts or natural disasters happening, we see that their situation of marginalization gets worse”. Because of this, it is pivotal for Aderemi to keep providing assistance to people with disabilities who are displaced due to the South Sudanese civil war.
The goal of the organization is to make sure every person with a disability has access to the same humanitarian assistance as other refugees. Community based rehabilitation trained experts work in refugee camps. Their main task is to identify children and adults with disabilities. After that, they are all assessed and based on the severity of their disability, they are addressed a certain level of care and assistance.
To those in need of it, Light For The World also provides wheelchairs and other devices that increase accessibility and mobility. When all basic care is provided, children are given education in those refugee camps that have such services.
Although the biggest obstacle seems to be the dealing with a lack of security in the areas of operation, it is a lack of funding that makes it even more difficult. Aderemi explains that donors do not think of disabilities to be a priority in emergency situations, because war on itself creates people with disabilities.
“Another challenge”, Aderemi says, “is that mainstream NGO’s often do not have expertise on making their services accessible to those with disabilities. Here, Light For The World has an important role to play in explaining NGO’s how they can improve the accessibility of the care they provide.”