A non-governmental organisation, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, has called on the government at all levels and stakeholders in the country to extend their support to people with disabilities in the flooded parts of the country.
The Executive Director of the group, Mr. David Anyaele, made this call on Tuesday in Lagos at a press conference on Nigerians with disabilities at the camps set up for people displaced by flood across the federation.
He said the group had received numerous distress calls from persons living with disabilities in some parts of the country flooded in the past one month.
He added, “Unfortunately, under emergency situations, it is the vulnerable groups like women, children, persons with disabilities and the aged that suffer the most. This is because they are usually too weak, poor, voiceless and helpless to have access to the general emergency response that is made available by government, development institutions and individuals.
“In humanitarian emergency situations, persons with disabilities are amongst the most vulnerable groups of the society and tend to be disproportionately affected by the impact of disasters.
“At the same time, they often remain invisible, even though their number statistically makes up approximately 10 per cent of any population. Persons with disabilities, be they of physical, sensory, intellectual or psychological nature, are most often not included in the various stages of disaster response and in disaster preparedness measures, neither as recipients of aid to meet their basic as well as specific needs, nor as active stakeholders and designers or planners of aid measures, voicing their own needs and opinions.”
The group, in its recommendations, urged state and other agencies involved in the emergency management process to take adequate measure to ensure that relief materials and other supports to displaced persons are distributed without discrimination against persons living with disabilities.
Some of the recommendations read, “The state and other emergency management agencies should ensure that all mechanism for data capturing and impact assessment are designed to reflect the needs of persons living with different forms of disability.
“All emergency management institutions should ensure that water and sanitation measures at the relief camps include options that are easily accessible to persons on wheelchairs, the visually impaired and those with other forms of disability.
“The state and other agencies for emergency management should pay adequate professional medical attention to newly injured or disabled persons to avoid medical complications, secondary disabilities or even fatal outcomes, and avoid aggravation of injuries or new disabilities by inadequate transportation of injured persons during evacuation.
“They should equally pay adequate attention to the emotional and social needs of disaster victims to help them overcome normal trauma symptoms, including providing professional psychologists to handle disaster victims that are displaying severe traumatic symptoms to avoid long-term psychic disability.”