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Armed Conflict and Plight of Children with Disabilities

Several case studies and research articles shed light on the negative impacts of armed conflicts on children's health, education, and psychological well-being. Additionally, these studies also present us with solutions to the challenges encountered. Unfortunately, just like the humanitarian action carried out, most of these studies fail to include the devastating stories of children with disabilities. Due to several intersecting factors, children with disabilities and special needs are victims of violence, social polarization, and deteriorating services; the marginalization of these children gets aggravated during an armed conflict.

According to a UNICEF report, children with disabilities and their service institutions are often the targets of violent attacks. For example, the extermination of adults and children with disabilities during the Nazi rule and the genocide in Rwandan psychiatric hospitals.

When it comes to access to health and education facilities, children with special needs are often disadvantaged during violent conflicts. Due to the deteriorating infrastructure, access to these facilities gets reduced for these children. Even when the institutions stay in place, rising costs during such crises hinder the families from availing the facilities. In the case of education, attacks on schools can stop any progress towards the inclusion of these children. Additionally, poverty can push the parents of children with disabilities to look for odd jobs and beg on roads in extreme cases, further reducing access to education. Moreover, research carried in Iraqi camps highlights the low enrollment of children with disabilities in the nearby urban schools. Unfortunately, facilitating these children is rarely seen as a priority by humanitarian programs.

Humanitarian workers are often seen discriminating against children with disabilities. This can be owed to a lack of awareness, stigma, and capacity of personnel. The lives of these children with visible disabilities are considered less valuable than those who don't have the disabilities, leaving them further marginalized.

Nonetheless, we must view the inclusion of children with disabilities as an investment in peace. Their participation in humanitarian response can provide practical inputs in conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction. Furthermore, prioritizing their well-being and safety can send positive messages to other victims and can benefit society in the longer run.


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This topic surely needs more attention. Even in places that are not under severe conflict situations such as Pakistan, little attention is paid to children with disabilities. The infrastructure within our cities does not allow mobility of these children, putting them under more disadvantage. One can only their sufferings when conflict hits.


Thank you for writing this. This has forced me to be mindful of subgroup amongst children, who is more vulnerable to conflict and violence. There should be more awareness regarding this so that greater humanitarian resources/help is shifted towards children with special needs.


This is one of the suppressed matters which you have discussed. Children of special needs are mostly ignored in any situation. Not only in conflict areas but most of the places are not designed for special people, we won't find ramps or any other kind of support there. The education system is not at all-inclusive for special people too any industry you is designed for everyone but the special people


Wow, I never even thought about this before. I can't believe these children are often targets... It breaks my heart to think this... Some of them may not even understanding what is happening or why they are being targeted for existing. God. Also, this reminded me of a view I saw once, where a girl with autism was hysterically crying while fireworks went off because the sound was so loud and so jarring. And it occurs to me, that in conflict-ridden zones, where there are constant blasts and loud noises, it must aggravate and frustrate them so much, with absolutely no reprieve. It's so important to note how the psychological impact of just the sounds of conflict can be so…


I definitely think their problems need to be spoken about, awareness should be a priority! This is a great read and definitely gives an amazing insight

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