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Physical restraint - the inhuman and degrading treatment of people with chronic mental illness like schizophrenia - continues to be widely practised in the developing world
Read about CBM and community mental health

Inclusive Emergency Response Unit (ERU)

A young woman speaking into a microphone - she is a wheelchair user
Kazol Rekha (a young woman who lives in a flood-prone area of Bangladesh) speaking at the 4th session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, Geneva, May 2013

CBM works with local partners to provide effective support to people with disabilities and their families during times of conflict or natural disaster.

Disability increases impact of conflict or disaster

The impact of a disaster or conflict is greater for those living with a disability because:
  • They may be unable to escape the situation: For example, a person in a wheelchair may be unable to flee a tsunami or gunfire.
  • They may be dependent on assistive devices or care-givers: For example, a person with an intellectual impairment may be unable to negotiate his/her community without assistance.
  • They may have difficulty adjusting to their temporary environments: For example, a person with a visual impairment may not be able to find food and water distribution sites in a refugee camp.
  • They may be unable to access basic health services: For example, a person with diabetes may be unable to get the medicine they need to manage their condition.

Disability is often the result of conflict or disaster

  • There are 42 million refugees / internally displaced people around the world (UNHCR, 2009)
  • An estimated 1 billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, have a disability (WHO, 2011)
  • Each year for past 20 years, 200 million people have been affected by disaster (UNISDR, 2005)
  • It is estimated that for every child killed as a result of violent conflict, three are injured and permanently impaired (IFRC Disasters Report 2007)
  • 10% of an affected population [by disaster] will develop serious psychological trauma (WHO)
People are at risk of sustaining a disability during a disaster/conflict because of:
  • The type of injuries associated with warfare, such as amputations, burns and blindness.
  • Mental health problems associated with trauma and violence, such as post traumatic stress disorder.
  • Poor nutrition as a result of children being displaced from their families.
  • Poor health as a result of a breakdown in health, water and sanitation infrastructure.

How CBM responds

When disasters/conflicts happen, CBM, with our partners, can identify people living with disabilities among the affected population and meet their immediate needs of food, water, shelter and healthcare.

After the initial emergency response, CBM remains in the affected area to support, plan and develop long-term programmes that promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities into all aspects of community life such as:
  • Access to health care and rehabilitative services.
  • Access to livelihood programs.
  • Access to education and vocational training.
  • Advocacy to ensure the voices of persons living with disabilities are heard and their needs are acted upon in planning and reconstruction.
Inclusive emergency response is an important aspect of the way CBM strives to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Inclusive Emergency Response links

Most at risk

Headshot of Valérie Scherrer talking at a podium
"In times of natural disaster, people with disabilities are among those that are most at risk"
Valérie Scherrer
Senior Manager
CBM Emergency Response Unit


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