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People with disabilities: long-term needs, crucial partnerships

03-12-2010 News Release 10/219

Geneva (ICRC) – The needs of people who have lost their limbs in accidents or in incidents involving landmines or other explosive weapons, or who require physical rehabilitation for other reasons, are often forgotten.

The rehabilitation services that enable disabled people to play an active role in society will have to be provided throughout their lives. On the occasion of the International Day of Disabled Persons, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and its Special Fund for the Disabled (SFD) have reaffirmed their determination to address these growing needs, in armed conflict and in a broad range of other situations, in cooperation with their numerous partners worldwide.

"An estimated 80 per cent of people with disabilities live in countries where the government and local institutions often cannot meet their rehabilitation needs," said Theo Verhoeff, the director of the SFD. Developing partnerships with local rehabilitation centres is essential to achieving the aim of improving the quality of the services provided. "This week, for example, the SFD and its two partner organizations in Togo will sign a multiyear agreement, the aim of which is to jointly strengthen the national rehabilitation capacity," added Mr Verhoeff. Meeting the long-term objective of enabling people with disabilities to become self-reliant in their everyday lives requires an equally long-term commitment.

In India, a newly renovated physical rehabilitation centre will start providing services in Dimapur on 3 December, with support from the ICRC and the local branch of the Indian Red Cross Society. The centre aims to help all those in India's north-east in need of prosthetics, orthotics and physiotherapy services. In Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, where migrants often expose themselves to considerable danger by traveling on train rooftops, the ICRC has stepped in to help. In 2010, in rehabilitation centres run by local partners, more than 65 disabled migrants received prostheses with ICRC support.

The ICRC has also maintained its support for rehabilitation services in conflict-affected regions. Earlier this year it opened a seventh prosthetic/orthotic centre in Afghanistan, in Helmand province, to address the drastic increase in the number of weapon-related amputations in the south of the country. "Patients will no longer need to make the dangerous journey to one of the six other ICRC centres," said Alberto Cairo, who heads the ICRC's physical rehabilitation projects in Afghanistan.

For further information, please contact:
Steven Anderson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 536 92 50

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled



Photos

India, Jammu. Physical rehabilition centre run by the Indian Red Cross with ICRC support. A man walks down the stairs in front of the technician who will adjust his artificial leg. 

India, Jammu. Physical rehabilition centre run by the Indian Red Cross with ICRC support. A man walks down the stairs in front of the technician who will adjust his artificial leg.
© ICRC / B. Milpas / in-e-00043

Colombia, Cali. A mine victim walks with crutches. 

Colombia, Cali. A mine victim walks with crutches.
© ICRC / C. Von Toggenburg / co-e-00835