>>[VOICEOVER]: Updates on Supporting Ukrainians with Disabilities. Webinar Recording from Thursday, March 31, 2022, 6 PM Ukrainian time, 4 PM London time, 11 AM New York Time, and 8 AM Pacific Time. Presented by the Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration and
Fight For Right.
>> GERMÁN PARODI: For a quick recap, our Global Alliance for Disaster Resource
Acceleration came together by us at the Partnership, the World Institute on Disability, and
ONG Inclusiva, as disability-led organizations that work with colleagues around the globe in
disasters, organizations led by people with disabilities that know in disasters and crises like
this war, we are left behind. Along corporations and foundations like AT&T, Bristol Myers Squibb,
JPMorgan Chase, and organizations like LaVant Consulting, the Kessler Foundation and Disability Inclusion Fund, we have come together recognizing the need to support local disability-led organizations responding and supporting fellow persons with disabilities in times of crisis like this war. I’ll pass it along to my colleague and fellow partner in this response, Shaylin Sluzalis.
>> SHAYLIN SLUZALIS: Thank you, Germán. Today we are really all here to hear from our colleagues and the work that they are doing tirelessly day after day, around the clock, the work of Fight For Right and supporting fellow Ukrainians with disabilities during the war. Before the war Fight For Right was a national Ukrainian nonprofit organization of persons with disabilities, focused on ensuring that every person with disabilities knew their human rights and freely exercise them. Before the Russian invasion began and when it was just a possibility, Fight For Right immediately sprung to action to compile and share emergency information for people with disabilities to use in case of the war. And since the war began, Fight For Right has pivoted their direct focus of advocating and advancing disability rights to providing emergency services in the form of evacuation, medication, and legal advice for fellow Ukrainians with disabilities. Fight For Right’s aim is to provide direct services to Ukrainians with disabilities experiencing humanitarian crisis caused by the war, and/or those in need of evacuation. Alongside their grassroots humanitarian work, Fight For Right also focuses on national and international advocacy to ensure the needs of people with disabilities are heard and taken into account. As Fight For Right responds to Ukrainians with
disabilities in need, they use these requests to inform their advocacy by identifying and filling
gaps where people with disabilities are not being considered. Fight For Right has been and will
continue to do all they can effectively to maximize the outcomes for those directly and
most disproportionately impacted, our fellow people with disabilities. They have not only been
working around the clock to save fellow Ukrainians with disabilities but also escaping the war themselves. We’re here to hear from them and the work they are doing and continue to support and amplify their work and save fellow Ukrainians with disabilities’ lives. It is our pleasure and honor to be working alongside them each and every day and to introduce you to them today for folks around the world joining us. Without further ado, I will introduce Yuliia Sachuk, the head lead of Fight For Right to share more with us today. Yuliia, thank you so much.
>> YULIIA SACHUK: Yes, thank you. And thank you everyone for joining and thank you everyone for supporting this month, and other months we were trying to build and to provide services
and support for Ukrainians with disabilities by ourselves. And this is not very this is not very
easy for us. It’s new for us as a team. As mentioned before, we are human rights organizations, and even in the condition of war, we don’t want to lose our human rights approach, and together I’m very thankful for all the partners. Together we built now and continue to work to help people with disabilities in Ukraine. Every day in this most of many of our team are people with disabilities themselves. We received many donations from community and people with disabilities around the world, and I’m really proud that in such a difficult situation, we people with disabilities show that by ourselves, we can create and establish international effective mechanisms for responding in emergencies and helping ourselves again. But at the same time, we understand that our resources and capacity are limited, and that the worsening the situation in Ukraine becoming worse and when we talk for example about immigration, our team every day face new challenges. Many of areas in Ukraine now are totally occupied, and we have requests we know about these people, but we continue to lose connection with them, even mobile connection. We continue to lose people who can provide evacuation drivers, transportation. We continue to face challenge in regard to medical evacuation, where people can start their evacuation because it’s very difficult to find hospital or clinic in Europe. We continue to face situations where, for example, wheelchair users in Europe who have immigrated by us forced to leave shelter and without any explanation and time which they need for finding new accessible accommodations. And there are a lot of new challenges every day, and work of our today the most the main thing which I want to stress that work of our case managers, at the same time as personal assistants because they are combining every person with disabilities to find their way to safety, to save them. Thank you, and because this is really a very difficult job, and there is no similar cases.
And there is no easy cases, because people very often need psychological support, financial support, medical support, and, yeah, to work with immigration, to provide such direct support, it’s really difficult and at the same time when we trying to build the structure and this mechanism, develop it to make it more effective, I can say that we even now don’t have as in the beginning, a floor, enough coordination efforts from national and international institutions and bodies. Even few of them can provide really effective and useful support. We continue to receive requests for cooperation, requests for interview and requests for data, requests for everything, for meetings, but the percentage of really effective cooperation, of really good connections are really low, and the
issue of international support and quality of such support is still very critical. Because when
for example we ask a big disability or non disability international organization to
provide some contacts or to provide some information, and we receive messages like,
you can go to our website and to be informed, it’s not about effective international support.
At the same time, I’d like to ask all our visitors who want to be involved in process of
saving Ukrainians with disabilities lives, to join our team, to join as volunteer. If you have
one hour per day, or if you have two days per week, there are a lot of issues
where we still need people, and you can be part of our international team, our international community of people who saving the world.
And the last thing, we continue to work with communication. In communication area, we trying to raise the issue of people who are left behind and to improve their conditions by means of international media. We continue our work in advocacy area, providing legal support, trying to change our national regulations, trying to research and to make our input to international mechanisms. And we continue to collect disability war crimes data and continue to raise the issue of people with disabilities during the war on international level. Thank you.
>> ANNA LANDRE: Thanks, Yuliia. Hi, everyone, my name is Anna Landre. I work as the Ukraine
crisis focal point for the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies. And I’ve also
been supporting Fight For Right and Yuliia as their international lead. So I want to share
some concrete case metrics, and updates with everyone. And I can post these in the chat
afterwards so that you have all the numbers. Fight For Right has received requests for help
from a total of 1,616 people, with each case, including Ukrainians with disabilities, and the loved ones that accompany them in Ukraine. Of this total number, we’ve successfully resolved the cases of at least 504 people as of today. The vast majority of these cases were for direct evacuation, with other assistance, including the delivery of durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and other basic needs, like food aid, medication, and financial assistance. So that’s at least 504 people who we’ve now assisted to get into a safe situation. 43 people out of the total number I mentioned
are now in cases marked inactive due to either becoming unreachable or changing their mind
about needing our help. And this leaves us with the remaining 1,069 people with disabilities
and their companions who are still in need of assistance. Our case managers are
working around the clock to support those people. And we’d really appreciate any assistance you can provide us here on this call, with donations to our GoFundMe, or with material support for things like transportation and housing, which the speakers after me will talk more about. Now, I want to turn it over to Marcie Roth, Director of the World Institute on Disability, for an update on
>> MARCIE ROTH: Hello, everyone. My name is Marcie Roth. I am the Executive Director and CEO of the World Institute on Disability, and one of the co founders of the Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration. My pronouns are she and her, and I am speaking to you from Maryland. On behalf of Fight For Right and GADRA, I want to thank you for your generosity and partnership as Fight for Right continues leading the urgent and complex work to leave no one behind. The World Institute on Disability serves as fiscal agent and fiscal sponsor for GADRA. At the request of Fight For Right, we are also serving as their sponsor while they navigate the operational challenges their Ukrainian disabled women-led organization is facing. We want to give a shoutout to our GADRA founders and our GADRA Founders Circle. Bristol Myers Squibb and AT&T have been supporting GADRA every step of the way, and they have continued to support both GADRA and Fight For Right through their generosity. We are also very grateful for many people’s support and both your support of spirit and partnership, and as well the financial support that you are providing for Fight For Right. I want to announce that we are very excited to learn that Google is supporting and Google.org is supporting the work of Fight For Right via a $300,000 U.S. grant to WID. This will help Fight For Right to expand the urgent work that they are doing. We’ve also been notified that the Microsoft philanthropy’s team has enabled WID to be eligible for a two to one match, or a 200% match, retroactive to February 24, and they have shared the donation details with their disability employee resource group, and their accessibility team. Every day we’re seeing evidence of people helping people, volunteers, agencies, and a growing network on the ground are joined by generous corporate and foundation funders and individuals using the links that you can find on our website, and our text to give campaign, which I’ll tell you a little bit more about in a moment. These options are enabling a global community to come together in the face of unspeakable horror. If you go to www.WID.org, you will be able to find links for CNN Impact Your World. You will also find very importantly links to the Fight For Right website, and other related links. And thanks to the generosity of AT&T, we have a very robust Text to Give campaign, led by the Mobile Giving Foundation, and that text to give, if you dial 20222 – I’m sorry. If you yes, if you write “WID” in the message, and you are sending that to 20222, you will be giving a donation of $10, and if you dial “world” you will be donating $25. And this is a – sorry, I want to make sure I’m reading the exact description. Okay. If you text WID to 20222, for a $10 donation, or world to 20222 for a $25 donation, all one-time donations will be added to your monthly phone bill, and 100% of funds raised will go to support Ukrainians with disabilities. No standard text messaging fees are incurred by mobile users to initiate and complete a text message donation. No portion of any amount
donated is held by participating wireless providers. 100% of all donations are passed
through at 100% to this effort. And again we appreciate any and all support for
Fight For Right, and we’ll continue in our role as fiscal sponsor and fiscal agent as they ask of us.
At this point, I would like to introduce the chair of the World Institute on Disability, Susan Mazrui, who is also, as we talked about AT&T earlier, is a founding Founders Circle member for the Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration. And Susan has also made it possible for the generosity of AT&T to support Fight for Right. Susan? And maybe we lost Susan. Oh, no, there she is.
>> SUSAN MAZRUI: I don’t know if I’m able to get on the screen.
>> MARCIE ROTH: Yes. There you are.
>> SUSAN MAZRUI: Okay. Can you hear me okay now?
>> MARCIE ROTH: Perfect.
>> SUSAN MAZRUI: For all of us who work in the disability field, we know there are challenges
on the best of circumstances. Housing is not easy. Access is not easy. Navigating legal
systems is not easy. But consider being shelled, being shot at, having to choose which family
members will escape and which won’t, and it becomes a thousand times worse. But there is
something that we can do, even those of us who have halfway around the world, and that is simply communicate opportunities to give. Even if you don’t have specialized skills. Now, if you have specialized skills, go directly, do work, volunteer the time. But some of us don’t, but we have networks. We have employee resource groups, we have companies we work with, we have friends, we have families, we have social networks. Post these opportunities to give. Tell these stories that you’ll hear today. Let people know that this is a point in time, a point in history when you can make a difference. Don’t be the people who you look back years later and say, why didn’t I do something? You have the opportunity to do something. My father, both my parents went through terrible tragedies during wars. And what my father would say no matter what happened, when I lost my vision, when I developed multiple sclerosis, when I had other challenges was, at least no one is shooting at you. In this case, people are shooting at people. People are trying to find homes. People are trying to evacuate with systems that don’t necessarily provide accessible transportation. You have the opportunity just by taking five minutes out of your day, once a day, to text your friends, to say text to give. It takes five seconds.
Go to the website for Fight For Right Ukraine and GoFundMe. There’s so many opportunities. Talk to your employee resource groups. Beat the drum. I’m going to get going, because what you really need to hear from the people on the ground, and the people who are doing far more work than I could ever do.
But I know I can go on Facebook, I can go on Instagram, I can go on different places and I can ask my friends, my family, my employee resource groups, my companies, to please share this information. Thank you.
>> MARCIE ROTH: Thank you so much, Susan. This is Marcie speaking. We appreciate you very
much, and appreciate AT&T and all of our very generous donors. I am now going to turn to
Irene from Fight For Right. And we are so grateful that all of the folks from Fight For Right
are here to help us to understand what the needs are.
>> IRENE FEDOROVYCH: Thank you. Hello, everyone. My name is Irene, my pronouns are
she/her and I work with Fight For Right helping with legal advice at the moment, and advocacy.
While we talk about helping and analyzing the situation, there are issues and problems
that people with disabilities are facing in Ukraine right now. We basically divided our working
into two tracts. Since the aggression started, the first tract was to analyze the possibilities
of the situation and the evacuation for individuals living by themselves. Mostly with
disabilities, to ensure that according to the legislation of the wartime, they can effectively
evacuate. That’s regulated by the organization that became active from the first day of the
aggression. According to the law, all men ages provided an exception for people with disabilities, for men with disabilities, but it wasn’t how to say correctly written or written clearly enough for it to effectively proceed and it caused lots of obstacles for men with disabilities trying to leave. And because of the writing of the legislation provided a lot of obstacles for men who are caring for
members of their family with disabilities so we spent quite a lot of time to get
organizations to advocate for the need of further amendments to this legislation and for
the clarifications to be provided to all actors to ensure that men with disabilities should be
exempted from the military service. And men caring for children with disabilities or their mothers or sisters with disabilities should also have options to evacuate, to leave Ukraine in case they decide to do so. So we managed with advocacy efforts, a few amendments were introduced for now and the procedure is looking more clear. It’s written with all the exemptions explained, and
it’s easier but still people with disabilities, men with disabilities, face difficulties when they
try to leave Ukraine, depending on what the control officer’s understanding of the regulation.
But we can deal on a per case basis. With Fight For Right and our consultants and lawyers and we also engaged other civil society institutions as well as free legal aid available in Ukraine and to help them to speed up the procedure. But the second tract is quite more difficult because that’s the issue of organized evacuation for those people who are not living independently by themselves but are staying in institutions. We have a complicated situation of institutions in Ukraine unfortunately and not enough information as to the number of people who are staying in institutions and the number of institutions in different regions. The first issue is the legislation about the institution and the declaration of institution is quite old and outdated and the response to that is how to say is a problem we face because it doesn’t provide for the procedure how to evacuate adults from the institutions in the case of war. So far Ukrainian government managed to provide clear and working procedure on how to evacuate children in institutions, and we have a number of cases reported in when such evacuation happens and we see also quite a good working between the national authorities, local authorities, and the ombudsmen children in institutions. But unfortunately we do not see the same effective and joined effort when it comes to evacuating the institutions for adults,
and what we need right now, what we advocate for is some legal procedure, a clear legal
procedure to be established for that obligation to evacuate the institutions for adults to be left
solely on the local authorities as it is now. According to the legislation we have right now, because the local authorities do not have enough powers, they do not have enough budget
and the problem with local authorities, they can only evacuate such institutions within
one region, and even to evacuate to the different region within Ukraine, they need to cooperate
with the other national authority. What we call is for that more joint cooperation between the
national and local authorities to ensure that they can research the possibilities to evacuate within
Ukraine where it’s possible and also start working with our international partners to evacuate out of Ukraine. For this we also need the exact cities, which is quite difficult to obtain right now especially from those regions where there are active military actions going on, because the local authorities and people responsible quite often do not respond to public requests. We also kind of
address to the international community to help us with that, to help us with educational effort
but also to help us with providing a clear voice and saying that we also are looking for
solutions, and we can propose Ukrainian government such solutions, because we
understand that any mass organized evacuation of adults is a quite difficult procedure and it
should be provided in a transparent way and also with durable solutions. What’s going to
happen to these people who have to stay in our country? That’s probably it from the legal side
and the advocacy update. Thank you.
>> GERMÁN PARODI: Thank you so much, Irene, and to keep us moving, you explained well the difficulties and intricacies in how people with disabilities are being discriminated of all ages. In moments we’ll hear more from our colleagues from Fight For Right and persons with disabilities who have been supported and evacuated themselves. Before we go on, we’ll hear brief remarks from Eric Rosenthal with Disability Rights International on more details on the difficulties on children with disabilities in institutions in Ukraine. Eric?
>> ERIC ROSENTHAL: Yes. Thank you very much for World Institute on Disability sharing this platform, and again for the fabulous work that Fight For Right is doing to help all people with disabilities. My organization, Disability Rights International, is a global disability organization, working for the human rights and full community inclusion of all people with disabilities. We worked for many years in Ukraine to document the conditions of between 100 and 200,000 children in institutions. And even more adults in these facilities. The conditions in these facilities were horrendous before the war. They shouldn’t have been there. These were children who have families, who should have been with their families. We warned with war coming that there had to be efforts of deinstitutionalization and these are the dangers of what happens when a crisis hits. The refugees are in many ways the lucky ones. We have staff now who are working in Ukraine to identify the conditions, and situation of children and adults with disabilities who are in institutions. There are some positive stories of orphanages being evacuated, but what we are finding is that the institutions for children with disabilities have largely not been evacuated. There are great supports needs these children have. It’s difficult to transport them, it’s difficult to support them, and frankly it’s difficult to find them. There was never one particular map. The government authorities in Ukraine did not have one centralized system for monitoring or oversight, which means that now in a time of crisis, it’s very difficult even to find, there are children in adult psychiatric facilities and social care facilities and the adults in these facilities as our colleague Irene mentioned are especially at risk. We have found in some facilities the staff are no longer being paid, and yet we’ve found some heroic situations where they’re still working to keep children alive, but we just don’t know how long that’s going to last. DRI has responded through our staff in Ukraine, and has created a map where we are crowdsourcing information, in order to document where these children are, where adults in institutions are, to get humanitarian relief to them. We are not a direct aid organization ourselves, but because we have documented and know where the children and adults in institutions can be found, we are getting maps to the larger international relief organizations, like Save the Children, ABILIS and others who are doing direct outreach. We have created a crowd sourcing tool that is accessible for people with disabilities that we will be launching next week called DRI Lifesaver. It will be available in Ukrainian and Russian and will allow people with disabilities to report on their own needs, on abuses they’re experiencing, on abandonment, in order to document this problem. So I’m going to put our information in the chat right now. Our website is DRIadvocacy.org. You can contact us at info@DRIadvocacy.org. If you have any information that you would like to send us about resources that are available to help institutionalized people or if you have knowledge about people who have been left behind, please contact us, and then we hope by next week, we will have DRI Lifesaver. It will be DRIlifesaver.org, and direct information can be uploaded. So we very much appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with Fight For Right and WID on this effort, and we are trying to reach at least a quarter of a million people, who because of their disability have been left off the grid and largely left behind and we need to have targeted efforts to keep them alive and to preserve the opportunity for full and community inclusion of those people in the future. Thank you very much.
>> SHAYLIN SLUZALIS: Thank you so much, Eric. This is Shaylin. Appreciate all that you are
doing and thank you for all of the work from Disability Rights International. And for your important remarks today. Next we’ll be hearing from Viktoriya Kharchenko on medical evacuation updates from Fight For Right.
>> VIKTORIYA KHARCHENKO: (Speaking Ukrainian)
The medical evacuation. These people with severe cases of disability, they need special
transportation, and this is a huge challenge for us, because we don’t have such transportation,
such a vehicle. Our organization doesn’t own it. We were trying to find various ways of how we could transport these people with disabilities. We addressed our government officials. We addressed the people that are donating us money, and this turned out to be a huge problem to find a vehicle like that. At present we found the possibility of evacuating such people. Seven of them were evacuated thanks to the ambulances. However, we have about 20 other people there still on the temporarily occupied territories, and we do not have access to these people at present, because doctors are afraid to go to those territories. We have cases already when the medical officials were executed, and this makes our job much harder, or makes it almost impossible to evacuate people. Another challenge is that the vehicles that we do have, the number is not sufficient enough. It would have been nice if we had had at least five of those vehicles. However, this financially means a lot, and our organization cannot afford it. This is a lot of money that is needed, and besides that, we have people with severe disabilities. They have nowhere to go and ask for help, besides us. So we know the cases that we have various cases when we can’t help. And I don’t want to talk only about challenges. I want to tell you also about some positive information. We do succeed in evacuating some people with disabilities. Lately we evacuated an older man that had issues with health, and his family shared information, said that they’re planning on naming their children with my name, and it’s very nice to work on these issues. Our entire team works 24/7, and we continue working in order to help in evacuation of as many people as possible,
people with disabilities, because the majority of them are still left behind. And we there is
nobody else to take care of them. They don’t have any access to basic needs. Thank you very much for your attention.
>> SHAYLIN SLUZALIS: Thank you so much, Viktoriya. Really appreciate all of your words and sharing with everyone the dire situations, and for all that you are doing. Next we’re going to hear a personal story, evacuation story, from Alina and Artem.
>> ALINA BARABASH: Good day, everybody. We the people that are being helped to leave Ukraine, we wanted to thank everybody who helped us, because without that help, we wouldn’t be able to flee. The road was very long. For nine hours we were being transported in Ukraine, and on the train, we couldn’t even use the bathroom. When we came to Lviv, there were the railway officials, and they were trying to lower us down to the platform. We didn’t know on the platform how we can cross the railway the rails, and so they were trying to do everything to help us out. When we were
lowered from the train, we heard the siren, the air raid siren. We were not really that scared.
However, a lot of people ran. We were trying to cross the rails to the railway station.
There were huge crowds of people. People were trying to squeeze through the exit, and the passage was very narrow, so not many people could cross that exit quickly. When we entered the train station, we were at that train station a couple months before, so we knew that train station before the war started, and then we saw it at current situation with crowds and tons of people. We were pretty much short, a lot of many people were there. A lot of people, a lot of children that were
staying there at the train station, so without taking any rest, we decided to go to the border,
because we understood that it’s hard for us, and it’s very hard for people that are going to be
accommodating us, finding us somewhere in Lviv. You know, it’s very hard to take care of us, of course. You know, it’s very it’s not comfortable to deal with people like us, and so we were standing on line at the checkpoint at the border for hours, but we are very thankful that they were letting us through a little bit earlier. The evening was coming. After four hours of standing in line, they let us go faster, and I was getting very cold.
>> ARTEM ARTEMOV: There were thousands and thousands of people.
>> ALINA BARABASH: They were waiting in line for 24 hours. We also had some language barrier. We couldn’t talk with border patrol officers, but we were able to figure out what we needed. That was last we figured out what to do.
Because we didn’t know the language, we had difficulties, but in Krakow, we were accommodated for a few days, and then we were communicating with local volunteers and the organization Fight for Right helped us, and after we got in touch with their volunteers, they accommodated in the lower Austria, and special mention for all the people, for elderly, and there are people here with children with disabilities, with autism, and many other people with many children. Thank you Fight for Right for all your help. We wouldn’t have risked this fleeing process if not for you. And we are kind of like in this suspended situation or status. We have no idea what is going to happen in future.
>> ARTEM ARTEMOV: Are we going to be staying here in Austria, or are we going to go elsewhere.
>> ALINA BARABASH: Even though we have disabilities, we have very hard time finding any
employment here. When we were in Ukraine, we were employed. However, here we’re dealing
with this on our own. We’re trying to figure out what we can do here. We are trying to learn
German, and we were very nervous because we actually heard the air raid siren yesterday at
are telling us that air raids are all the time going on in Ukraine. Many people are scared from them, and when they hear the sound, it causes that fear to increase. A lot of people are saying
that they don’t have shelters. That these shelters are not even adapted for people with disabilities, and that is very hard. How can these people during the sirens go to those shelters. So that’s hard.
I don’t know if I can add anything else, but if you have questions, we would be happy to
answer them. Thank you all very much. Yes, and we thank you too.
>> GERMÁN PARODI: Thank you so much, Alina and Artem. Our hearts are with you, and
explaining the difficult journey that you had to take. And still the uncertitude that you’re
experiencing and thousands are experiencing. I don’t know if Yuliia, if you maybe want
to add some remarks? To keep us moving, next we’ll hear from another colleague who has evacuated with Fight For Right and continues to do the work. Thank you for all you do and sharing your experience. Next, Oleksandr.
>> OLEKSANDR NIKULIN: Do you mean me, myself, Oleksandr?
>> GERMÁN PARODI: Yes.
>> OLEKSANDR NIKULIN: Okay. Thank you. Thank you. Good day. My name is Oleksandr. I am a full fledged member of the Fight For Right organization. From the beginning of the war I was only a volunteer. I had other employment, the main employment. However, when the war started in Ukraine, having the status, being a person with disabilities and problem with finding medication and started hearing what is going to happen to me, I had to flee Ukraine. I didn’t have assurances or guarantees that I will be receiving medications, and the medication supply will be stable, and for
me it is critical. And thanks to the team of Fight For Right, and their legal support, and just plain personal calls, just asking me how I was doing, I was able to flee the country, and I’m right now in Germany. I am trying to figure out how to join this team online. What else I would say? I just wanted to thank everybody, especially Fight for Right, and since I’m now going to be working with them actively, helping people with evacuation, let’s say inside the country or out of the country, helping with humanitarian things of different sorts, I would like to say that this kind of job is very exhausting, very difficult. You ask people where they are. You hold them, you talk to them. You are trying to help them. You hear these terrifying stories that your heart is being broken by hearing them, and when you see these cases listed in tables, and you know that these people are on the temporarily occupied territories, you understand that you don’t even have any ability to help them, to get in touch with them, because everything is being shelled. Everything is in danger. You don’t even know how to help in that situation, because you cannot get there on the transportation. You cannot get them out from there. And therefore there is no way even to help them in any humanitarian way possible.So this is pretty much everything I had to say. Again thank you so very much for letting me speak, and I was happy to hear you.
>> SHAYLIN SLUZALIS: Thank you so much, Oleksandr. Thank you for sharing your experience and for all the work that you continue to do, and all that you are going through and fellow Ukrainians with disabilities, our hearts are with you, and we are here to support all the work Fight For Right is continuing to do. Next we’ll hear from Avery Horne to share a needs update from Fight For Right. Avery?
>> AVERY HORNE: Hi, all, thank you so much for being here today and thank you for hearing from all of our different components, all of our different areas, and the ways that we’ve been operating as a team. There is a lot of going on. There’s a lot that is needed, and we are now 30 days, past 30 days into this war, and things have not become easier. We are still operating in several different ways, and as you heard mostly today, the main area is evacuation. Nearly everyone on our team is in some way also working on the operational side of things in addition to the logistics side, in addition to trying to support our team, trying to again engage in advocacy efforts, to ask questions
about institutions, the mechanisms that are going on, the tracking of individuals with disabilities, the reaching of them. All of these are questions that we share with you that we are working on as well, but the main way that you can support us is by coming alongside us in this effort. We are all working day in and day out and the needs remain very, very large. We have a big caseload, but we know at the same time that many, many, many people, millions of people, are not heard from at all, that there are so many more that need to be reached, and so when it comes to helping us, we have a volunteer meeting tomorrow that if anyone is able to give of their time and give of their resources, we would love to see you there, because we do need support. We do need people to come alongside us and provide direct aid. And what direct aid means for us is giving your time, giving your energy and helping with logistics, and with coordination and with helping people connect with evacuation assistance that they are self determining. So I’ll go ahead and share the volunteer meeting link in the chat here.
It’s tomorrow at 4:00 GMT time so that would be 6:00 PM Ukrainian time. Again I’ll share that. We also have a needs assessment that we have been sharing with our partners. That continues to be very relevant. And we’re – when we talk about what needs we have, one pertains to evacuation, we still need accessible transportation, ambulances to help with medical evacuations like you heard from earlier. We need connections with humanitarian aid that’s being administered at the border, including access to accessible housing and housing in specifically Germany and Poland is still a very, very big need. We stay with the individuals who contact us for as long as they need assistance, and oftentimes what is in front of them is very uncertain, if not all the time. So the need for support at the border areas in connection with organizations who are at the border are still it’s still very critical and if you can come alongside us and assist us as a small team to make connections for the many cases that we do have, that would be appreciated. In addition we still need more connections to individuals who are administering medical aid and again we are working with many other organizations to also try to locate where institutions are located currently, meaning whether or not they have evacuated. It’s very hard to find that information and we’re continuing to work on that through advocacy efforts and tracking efforts alongside other organizations. So as I mentioned we have very many needs in very many different areas. We do hope to see you in the future, either through volunteering or by meeting with us to provide direct assistance so that we can continue to serve many people. I see that I have some questions in the chat here. I will share the link right now for the volunteer meeting in the chat. Oh, I see that. It’s not going to the correct one, my mistake. I have shared now the volunteer link for tomorrow in the chat. So we hope to see you there, and we want to thank you so much for joining us. Thank you.
>> GERMÁN PARODI: Thank you, Avery. Thank you all at Fight for Right. We’re so glad
that Alina, Artem, you are momentarily safe, and again our hearts are with you, as well as Oleksandr and all the work you continue doing in support. And Fight For Right for your leadership,
demonstrating that it is people with disabilities that will come and help people with disabilities
throughout disasters and crises like this war. We have seen a number of inputs into the Q&A.
Most are relevant information, and we thank you all for sharing it. And as you’ve heard, there
is an understood difficulty in having an overarching understanding of where people with
disabilities are throughout the country, not only in institutions, but in their own homes. It is something that every day Fight For Right is attempting to get an understanding of, not only through their hotline and networks, but with the UN HCR, protection clusters and other clusters, the European Disability Forum, the international Red Cross crescent and others where the need is understood. Fight For Right is recognized, and this is not just a need in Ukraine as has been understood, but in the countries receiving refugees. At this time, if you have other questions that you would like the speakers to address, please put them in the Q&A. We’ll give a moment for that.
You can put them together again. Special gratitude to Bristol Myers Squibb and
AT&T for quickly jumping in the fray and supporting disability-led organizations, showing
other corporations and fellow foundations the need to support organizations led by people with
disabilities in disasters.
>> SHAYLIN SLUZALIS: This is Shaylin, and I just want to reiterate that we will share
information that was provided today following, including today’s chat and the recording of
today’s webinar, so that will be forthcoming. I do see a question that has come in from
someone who arrived late and asking if there could be clarification on what the volunteer needs are, volunteer duties. I’m wondering if Avery or Anna may want to tackle that?
>> AVERY HORNE: I can share. When it comes to volunteer needs, one of the main things that we need people to do is to volunteer as case managers, to volunteer as individuals who can contact other individuals who are currently requesting our assistance and help coordinate that effort. Going from transport all the way to housing, but we understand that not everyone can do that, so we have other ways for people to fill those positions as well. When it comes to other volunteer needs we still have very many needs relating to resources, so searching for resources and reliable connections to connect people with sustainable and accessible housing, food support, cash support, and things of that nature. So having those that research built because we do receive a lot of requests. We do receive a lot of information. But having information that is reliable and
useful to us is quite different than just having access to maybe a website, if that makes sense.
So we have to vet that information, we have to get a reliable contact. We have to see if we can create a partnership there and that’s where a lot of our resource volunteers are going to be critical. So if you have prior experience with disability organizations, that’s where you could be even more critical for us, because you can help us locate different organizations that for example might be in the Western border countries and are hopefully looking at accessible housing and connections with accessible housing. So that’s a little bit of what we envision some of our volunteers to do currently, but we have very, very, very many operational needs right now, as we have obviously been creating an emergency effort in the past 30 days that is completely novel and new. So I can assure you that we will have things for our volunteers to do, and when we are meeting, you can also express what your skills and needs and desires are and we can fit you in the big frame of needs that we have. So I hope that answers your question, but if not, I would be happy to talk more with you about this tomorrow at our volunteer meeting. Thank you.
>> GERMÁN PARODI: This is Germán. Thank you very much, Avery, for that detailed information. On the Q&A, Diana asks if we have been in contact with Geneva Initiative, Psychiatry and Disability Rights International for data for institutionalization populations in Ukraine and as Eric explained earlier and other speakers that this data is not too trustworthy. As in the United States, we can comprehend from the lack of data on the impacts of COVID 19 in institutions, but I don’t know if Avery, Anna can answer about the Geneva Initiative on Psychiatry.
>> AVERY HORNE: We have not been connected with them. Diana, if you’d like to connect with me
about them, I’d be happy to have a further discussion about what information you believe
that they could potentially provide us and also perhaps to provide that information also to the
protection cluster, the technical aging and disability group. We can share that information with them. As I understand, they are also trying to facilitate a coordination effort to find the institutions and to facilitate evacuation from an international and national standpoint. Diana, I’d be happy to connect with you about them to get more information and ensure that that information is also being shared in our advocacy efforts to other coordinating bodies. Thank you.
>> SHAYLIN SLUZALIS: Thank you, Avery, and thank you, Diana for the question and connecting the resources. That’s what this is all about as well. Next we’ll hear a question from Olivia Babis and I believe Heather will promote her so she can speak.
>> OLIVIA BABIS: Hi, can you hear me?
>> SHAYLIN SLUZALIS: Yes.
>> OLIVIA BABIS: I had a couple of questions and a comment. As far as questions, those of us
with disabilities know that oftentimes it takes very creative outside the box thinking to find
solutions for things. It’s very hard for us in the United States who aren’t familiar with the
infrastructure that is set up for people with disabilities in various European countries,
I’m happy of course to look for resources. But you know, without that base knowledge
or that foundation, it’s very hard. It’s kind of like finding needles in haystacks. I know obviously in
the U.S., in certain parts of the U.S., this is definitely not uniform, but, you know, we do in
our largest cities have the ability to like rent or purchase wheelchair accessible vans, and I’m
wondering if there’s been any attempt to work with private organizations that do make these
vehicle modifications to either rent them or, you know, to start a fund to purchase used vans to
help people get out. So you know, talking about the front end just to get people out, but also on
the back end, maybe like working with Airbnb, because they do have kind of an accessibility
page where you can request accessible housing and any places you want to rent. It’s not perfect.
I recognize that. But it’s something, and so if anybody has looked into maybe trying to
coordinate with them to locate private housing that people are renting out, that people can raise
money to help rent out those places for people. So those are kind of my two questions. And my comment is that of course Ukraine and countries surrounding it all ratified the UN Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities. So just kind of wondering about the messaging around that. Yes, we understand the state that Ukraine is in, but as a country that has ratified this treaty, they have obligations to the disability community, and so do their neighboring countries. And I think there’s the opportunity to kind of call this out right now, and ask countries to be accountable to that international treaty that they signed and really kind of put forward this question of was this just a platitude, or did we really mean it when we ratified this and drafted this international treaty
to protect people with disabilities. And it’s in situations like this where that treaty is most
critical, so I know of course the organizations that are providing support on the ground, I know
that’s not your main focus right now, but some of the international organizations and maybe
even organizations in the U.S. to kind of tailor messaging around that to hold these countries
accountable to protect the lives of people with disabilities that they agreed to do. So that’s my
soap box and I will get off of it now.
>> AVERY HORNE: Yeah. So in regards to the UNCRPD, Fight For Right, prior to the war, was a
human rights nonprofit focused on the implementation of the UNCRPD in Ukraine. So a
lot of our messaging has been around UNCRPD obligations, especially as it pertains to article
strengthening the rights and really critically highlighting how important all those rights are,
and how critical they are. So I’m not sure if Yuliia wants to add anything in here, but I can
also answer about getting purchasing accessible vehicles. Yes, we have purchased
accessible vehicles. I think a lot of the difficulties remain on the coordination and
logistics side, as we have these accessible vehicles and have some drivers but we still are
limited of course in where they can go because of shelling and also in terms of the coordination
and the need for more coordination. Because we can have an accessible vehicle and we need to source the river – we have sourced drivers, but then also getting – it’s quite hard to explain the depth of the issues when it comes to sourcing these needs. So we definitely are willing and wanting to get more accessible vehicles to serve the population needs. But I think that first what we really also need is logistical support so those can be staffed with drivers who are willing to go in these areas, and that is where we really want to see and hopefully will see some humanitarian aid support in terms of evacuation assistance and some of the emergency coordination efforts that hopefully we can connect with humanitarian aid organizations that are willing to go into these areas and help folks. So short answer, yes, we have purchased accessible vehicles, and that’s something that we’ll continue to do, and we continue to use the money that we have fundraised. With Airbnb, it’s something we’ve thought of before. We’ve seen this suggestion floating around. It’s a bit difficult because also Airbnb has had a history of not being super accessible, I’m sure you’re familiar with it, but it’s definitely a solution that is worth talking about. When it comes to purchasing private property and getting support by going through private entities, I think that’s something that is a really good suggestion, and hopefully something that we can explore moving forward, but we do need more support to take on an enterprise like that in terms of volunteers. Yeah. Yuliia, did you want to add anything?
>> YULIIA SACHUK: No. Thank you, Avery. I think that’s about it. For me personally, as I
mentioned before, I don’t know, for me all my activities and my professional grounds, it was
really important to promote, to protect, and to believe to UNCRPD and to people working
in this area. And after my personal evacuation, evacuation of my friends, colleagues, different
people with disabilities, after situation which we have now, after all, I don’t know, protection
cluster meetings, International Disability Alliance meetings, European disability forum meetings,
I don’t see I don’t see enough efforts to help directly with people. I don’t believe personally the big influence of such instruments. Yes, I understand it’s very emotionally now, and yes I understand that now I’m also in state, like in my country, I have war, but I don’t I really believe that with all international support, which now circulated, which with all people, we can be more effective, and this is only one reason to criticize and to do it a lot.
>> GERMÁN PARODI: Thank you, Yuliia and Avery. Don’t go too far. I want to ask you a quick
question. But checking on some questions that are coming in, one around from Ranar on the
prioritization around countries receiving refugees, and the answer is that is one of the
priorities. This is a complex cross sectorial layered response. We, along with the leadership
of Fight For Right, meet people where they are and their needs as they continue.
So it is one of the needs, among many. Another question that came in the chat, if Yuliia or Avery
could quickly address, was around any understandings around the status of people who are deaf in Ukraine. Generally speaking information for people who are deaf and deafblind are often lacking, even though these are rights under UNCRPD. But I don’t know if Yuliia, you may want to add.
>> YULIIA SACHUK: Yeah, the situation I can’t provide all information about the situation, because we don’t have it, honestly. But yes, we have cases from like of deaf people or with
hearing impairments, because in our national disability network, we have organizations
and activists, and we continue to work with them. And also we have partnerships with our
Ukrainian activist who now lives in London, Laura (indiscernible) and they established the
foundation and say she helped mostly women with children and also by our support and together we helped another deaf people in Ukraine. And yeah, I think this situation also, and this group of people also need more support, and even we have to have more information about situation.
>> AVERY HORNE: Yeah, and I do also want to include here that there’s been one organization that I have been monitoring that specifically addresses deaf people and Ukrainians who are inside Ukraine who seem to be doing work. So if anyone has connections with Off the Grid Mission, a disaster focused NGO dedicated to providing deaf people with life saving resources, I know they’re operating inside Ukraine and we’ve been trying to make connections with them as well because they’re a deaf specific organization. We’re not a disability-specific organization, but we have also helped deaf people evacuate. But yeah we welcome more information and more connections as we are trying to gather the same information. Thank you so much.
>> GERMÁN PARODI: This is Germán. Thank you. And Off the Grid Missions is an organization for relief that we are well connected with and are working on establishing a meeting with them and will introduce shortly. The gaps on accessible and information in alternative formats is something that has fallen a lot on the hands of organizations like Fight For Right. It’s something that since the beginning of the war, has been asked from the UN responding parties to provide accessible information, which they are providing to the general population, and these gaps continue, and we continue to address it with them.
>> SHAYLIN SLUZALIS: Next we have a question from Amanda Morris, and Heather will promote so she can speak.
>> AMANDA MORRIS: I think I accidentally raised my hand. I’m so sorry.
>> SHAYLIN SLUZALIS: No problem. Thank you, Amanda. Just taking a look. We have other
questions if we have other questions.
>> GERMÁN PARODI: This is Germán. I don’t know if the interpreters, if Ukrainian could
help us to see if there’s a question coming in from our Ukrainian speaking colleagues?
>> INTERPRETER: I interpreted into Ukrainian and asked them to raise their hands, so we’ll see
if anybody raises their hand.
>> SHAYLIN SLUZALIS: Thank you.
>> MARCIE ROTH: This is Marcie. While we’re waiting, we do have one other question in the chat. It’s from Rafaelo. Forgive me if this has already been addressed, but does Airbnb have a listing filter for accessible property, akin to how you filter for pets or no pets, et cetera. Obviously would need to be able to differentiate between types of accessible needs and accommodations. If not, could the Airbnb team be petitioned to include that? So I will say there are some features, but those features are not robust. I know there are disability organizations working with Airbnb on this, and I’m wondering if there’s anyone else who might have more information on the progress that’s being made.
Maybe not. So this is Marcie again. So Rafaelo, I think the National Council on Independent Living works pretty closely with Airbnb, if I’m remembering correctly, so maybe we could engage them and get an update from them. We’ll follow up on that.
>> GERMÁN PARODI: This is Germán. We want to thank Fight For Right and our colleagues who have evacuated. You know, we are with you ongoingly. You have great support committed to you, and the audience that have attended, thank you for your time and commitment. We’ll hear closing words from Marcie and Yuliia.
>> MARCIE ROTH: This is Marcie. And I want to thank everyone for joining the Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration, and our efforts in support of Fight For Right. Yuliia and her team
have told us again and again, this was not the work that the organization had intended, but as
we’ve seen again and again, unfortunately humanitarian actors are still leaving people with
disabilities behind, and we have seen in no uncertain terms once again the failures of the
global humanitarian systems that have just never been – We have not made the kind of
progress that needs to be made so that the disproportionate impact of crises, emergencies,
disasters, conflict, can center people with disabilities, and it was time before, and it’s time
now, and we need to continue to work together to very significantly change what happens for
people with disabilities globally in these sorts of situations. As folks have said, there are
laws. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other humanitarian laws
that are being denied. Certainly the impact of the war crimes being perpetrated by the Russian government are disproportionately impacting people with disabilities and other marginalized people. And we as a global community must come together and put an end to the exclusion
of people with disabilities. The work that Fight For Right is doing continues to evolve, and I
know they need our help, and this is not going to be a short-term relationship. We intend in any
way we can to support Fight For Right to take the leadership role that they have taken on, and to support them in their efforts, not only on behalf of Ukrainians with disabilities, but anyone with a disability who is experiencing the horrors that we are all unfortunately witness to. Yuliia, I
will turn to you for closing words, and you know we’re right beside you in any way that we can be.
>> YULIIA SACHUK: Thank you, Marcie, and for me, I’m really proud, even in this terrible time,
that evacuation and saving lives of Ukrainians with disabilities as possible. And I’m really thankful for every person with a disability who donated, who supported us, who support now, who volunteering, and who just stand with Ukraine and Ukrainians with disabilities. And I’m really proud of the effectiveness of our work. Yes, I understand that there are 2.7 millions of people with disabilities in Ukraine. But on the other side, without us, at least 500 people will still be in Ukraine. And we dedicate now all our team and me personally all our lives and time and efforts to make this mechanism more effective. So I really appreciate support, help, and if you can if you have time, money, connections. I don’t know, maybe car which you don’t need. We need everything for Ukrainians with disabilities now. And about such support, mainly from community, is the most important for me thing, because today we, during our conversation with our case management lead, she told me the story of when we have person in one of the cities, towns near the Kyiv and visitation there is not very safe, and we agreed, with one of the group, who provide evacuation for general population, that they will take this person with severe disability. And then they called her, you know, they said that they can’t go to this person, and she was trying to ask them, like why, please, but she received a response, if you need this person, please go and do it by yourself. So this is a real situation where I understand that responsibility for our rights, lives, and dignity and even now during the war, our survival, really in our hands, and I really thankful for all who are with us during the war in Ukraine. Thank you.
>> HEATHER DUNCAN: Thank you all. And that will conclude today’s webinar.
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