War in Ukraine

This page features disability news on War in Ukraine from the Debrief Library. See also news on other subjects.



Easy-read magazine edition Europe for us Everything created was destroyed. (Link to pdf, Feb, Inclusion Europe)


Putin's mobilisation plans in tatters after officials enlist handicapped and blind people. (Oct, Express)


Rights of persons with disabilities during the war in Ukraine. Summary of monitoring report. (Feb, EDF)

Bridging the Gaps - four studies on Ukrainian children with disabilities. (Feb, EDF)

Russia Mobilizing Disabled Locals to Fight in Failing Donetsk Campaign. (Jan, Newsweek)

A summary of the first 100 days: Ukrainians with intellectual disabilities and their families surviving the war (Jun, Inclusion Europe)

A video feature on What support do people with disabilities need? (Apr, Aljazeera)

Ongoing updates on the situation of people with intellectual disabilities and their families in Ukraine. Includes a concern about what a future after the conflict will look like: given stoppages of day-care services, “A new wave of institutionalisation is a great danger specifically for persons with intellectual disability.” (Apr, Inclusion Europe)

People with disabilities and mobility issues find themselves trapped in Kyiv a profile on a family unable to evacuate or get to the shelters (27 Feb, CNN)

As conflict reignites, a Ukrainian family knows all too well 'the collateral damage of war' a case study of a family affected by the previous violence. (24 Feb, CTV News)

An open letter appealing for protection and safety of persons with disabilities in Ukraine See also a page with resources on inclusive emergency response. (Feb, EDF)

People with intellectual disabilities mustn't be abandoned A page with rolling updates, noting that current priorities include provision of basic supplies, especially medicine, and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the 80,000 children and adults with disabilities in care homes. (Feb, Inclusion Europe)

Background Reading


A new book, The Broken Years: Russia's Disabled War Veterans, 1904–1921, which shows:

"the question of disabled veterans became bound up in broader political and social debates in the early twentieth century and fostered health care and social welfare policy. The experience of these 1.14 million war veterans reconfigured notions of heroism, sacrifice and patriotism while the period of 1915-1919 was marked by extensive political activism by disabled veterans." (Feb, Cambridge University Press)


Advocacy Note on Assisting Displaced and Conflict-Affected Older People (link to pdf, June 2020, Protection Cluster)

A working paper on the impact of COVID-19 on People with Disabilities: Perspectives of Organisations of People with Disabilities. Describes inaccessibility of healthcare, increased social isolation, restricted mobility and deepening poverty. While some organizations of persons with disabilities reported new partnerships, many had funding reduced. (Mar, Kiril Sharapov et al)

Recent Historiographical Trends in Scholarship on Disability and Socialism in Eastern Europe. A good overview of how research shows the place of disabled people and their relationships with socialism:

"A common thread that runs through the studies discussed in this paper is the emphasis on productivism in disability policies and expert discourses, a logic aimed at integrating the disabled into the socialist society by increasing their work capacity. The authors show that conceptions about disability were embedded in overarching biopolitical considerations revolving around labour productivity. While the socialist work ethos led to a segregation of the ‘productive’ from the ‘unproductive’, it would be misleading to conceive disability during state socialism exclusively as a history of discrimination and marginalisation. Disability histories ‘from below’ point to the fact that disabled people in various historical contexts played an active role in reproducing and recreating discourses that defined disability [...]"

"In state socialist countries, disabled persons and associations frequently articulated emancipatory claims and sought to prove their productivity and eagerness to participate in the workforce. However, these egalitarian aspirations had troublesome implications since integration into socialist societies was strictly conditional on their contribution to the labour force. Social security programmes were primarily formed as a reward system for work, not as a way to meet the needs of the disabled. While those recognised as partially disabled were to be integrated through work placement in regular or sheltered workplaces, this system ultimately had the opposite effect and created a segregated system of work." (Feb, Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research)

A very useful book for the region and Soviet context is Disability in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union: History, policy and everyday life. It includes a chapter with Sarah Phillips research in Ukraine, who gives the then-position of disabled people. At a very outside view, it seems that the presence on the political stage may have increased since she wrote:

"Interviews with persons with disabilities in Ukraine and a review of the available literature indicate that quality of life for most mobility disabled people has improved considerably since perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Some improvements in infrastructure and life possibilities, however, are accompanied by a range of injustices that compel many people with disabilities in Ukraine to feel as if they live in a “parallel world” where their rights to full citizenship in the new Ukrainian state are circumscribed (Phillips 2002, 2011). This parallel world is constructed at the intersection of public discourse and institutional infrastructure. The “unknown population” of the disabled is made further invisible by a hegemonic discourse that refuses to acknowledge the presence of the disabled on the political stage." (2016)

For more detailed ethnographic research on persons with disabilities, Sarah Phillips 2010 book is Disability and Mobile Citizenship in Postsocialist Ukraine. See a detailed review by Cassandra Hartblay.

National Strategy for a Barrier-Free Environment in Ukraine presented "We set extremely ambitious goals". See also the government reporting on the first steps towards a barrier free environment in Oct 2021. (April 2021, Cabinet of Ministers)

Situation assessment of rehabilitation in Ukraine As of September 2020: "The rehabilitation sector in Ukraine is rapidly evolving and many examples of good practice are emerging." (2021, WHO)

Briefing Note: Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on persons with disabilities. "The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated existing institutional, attitudinal and environmental barriers that persons with disabilities face in exercising their rights and accessing basic services." (Oct 2020, UN)

Policy Recommendations to the Ukraine government. The document notes that as the government develops plans to implement its Strategy for Barrier-Free society:

"At the same time, many Ukrainians living with disabilities remain trapped in their homes, restricted in their access to transportation, health care, social services and public buildings. Ukraine continues to apply medical and charitable approaches to persons with disabilities, rather than the human rights-based approach of creating favourable conditions to the enjoyment of all human rights on an equal basis." (Dec 2021, UN)

Ukraine's inaccessible cities "Ukraine’s urban accessibility issues are part of the country’s Soviet inheritance." (2021, Atlantic Council)

Opinion and Reactions


Sarah Phillips has been researching with disabled people in the Ukraine for around 20 yeras. Refusal to Die is an essay revisiting the current situation of those she knows.

"Back in his Kyiv hotel, Dmitrii keeps his good humor. He sends me jokes and memes on Telegram. He claims he’s glad he got stranded with the other hotel guests, who rely on his cool head and jokes to get through each day. He won’t answer my questions about his supplies of food and medicines. Dmitrii has survived everything else: Can he survive a war? I hope he will keep up his streak and refuse to die." (11 Mar, Cultural Anthropology)

Discrimination against people with disabilities is one example of how Russia operates outside rule of law (Mar, Canada's National Observer: News & Analysis) Sure, I guess, I wonder what it is an example of when other countries do it though.

In war disabled people cannot be left behind. Quotes a Paralympian saying in 2016, "Ukraine has already won 37 medals in the Paralympics, 12 of them are gold… We have more medals than wheelchair ramps in an average Ukrainian town." (27 Feb, The Once and Future Cripple)

Q&A with Ilya Kaminsky, Ukrainian-American poet a beautiful wide-ranging issues that touches on Deaf Gain and its contribution to the larger world.

"We must remember that even in the most difficult situations, people are still able to retain their humanity. They fall in love, they marry, and they have children. We must honor that too, and not just speak of the darkness of war. We must honor human survival, because if we don’t do this, if we don’t pay attention to every aspect, we dehumanize the suffering." (25 Feb, Daily Princetonian)

Affected Communities


The War in Ukraine Is a Reproductive Health Crisis for Millions "Russia's invasion is making it harder to deliver babies and provide birth control, abortion services, and other essential care." (16 Mar, Wired)

The Fight for Ukraine Is Also a Fight for LGBTQ Rights “People Are Not Coming Back to the Closet” (4 Mar, Vanity Fair)

Appeals and Statements


Communication of the CNCPH on the protection and security of persons with disabilities in Ukraine (in French, 4 Mar)


Disabled Women Ireland Statement on supporting disabled people arriving from Ukraine (DWI)


Joint statement on the forcible transfer, deportation, and adoption of children from Ukraine by Russia. (Mar, EDF)

UN experts call for urgent action to protect Ukrainian children with disabilities in residential care institutions. (Oct, OHCHR)

Joint Statement on the Situation of Older Persons in Ukraine. “Those older persons who have relocated to other areas within Ukraine have undertaken arduous journeys, beset with risk, lacking access to basic health care and other needs while on the move—all while being away from their families and loved ones. Many of those who have remained in their own towns have also experienced limited access to services and a breakdown of their social networks.” (Jun, HelpAge and others)

UN Human Rights experts on the Millions of displaced traumatised and urgently need help (May, OHCHR)

UN Committee warns that 2.7 million people with disabilities at risk (Apr, OHCHR)

the UN Head of Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine on the situation in Ukraine: (Mar, OHCHR)

An open letter from social scientists of disability call to Stop the War in Ukraine

European Disability Forum Resolution on Protection and safety of persons with disabilities in the war in Ukraine. Recommendations to the European Union and Member States. (link to pdf, 11 Mar)

The European Blind Union Protect blind and partially sighted people "Stop War Immediately" (link to pdf, 7 Mar)

UN Human Rights Experts: Protecting life must be a priority "Many more risk dying as a result of the destruction of essential infrastructure, including health care facilities and institutions for older persons with disabilities." (8 Mar, OHCHR) See also statement on older people and those with disabilities face heightened risks (4 March).

Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration (GADRA), Statement on Russian Invasion of Ukraine (1 Mar, WID)

Down Syndrome International statement on Ukraine conflict (1 Mar)

Covid and Disability project Letter from Kiril Sharapov

"Organisations of persons with disabilities remain one of the last remaining systems of support for people they have been taking care of within the context of the pandemic and now within the context of this catastrophic war. They continue, where and when they can, to provide support to the most vulnerable individuals and their families. Their knowledge and expertise must inform all current and future relief efforts provided by the Government of Ukraine and by the international donors and humanitarian agencies." (3 Mar)

Diakonia International Humanitarian Law Centre calls to Protect persons with disabilities in the Ukraine conflict (10 Mar)

War in Ukraine shows devastating impact of heavy bombing and shelling on civilian population. "Explosive weapons kill and/or cause complex injuries. They are the cause of massive forced displacement. Entire communities suffer extensive psychological trauma, with particularly acute consequences on children." (8 Mar, Humanity and Inclusion)

CRPD Committee opens first full session since 2019: The situation of persons with disabilities in Ukraine in focus. (Mar, IDA) See also detailed report of the Committee Meeting.

Autism Europe Call to ensure the protection of Ukrainian autistic people "autistic people and their families are largely invisible and underserved by humanitarian aid dedicated to supporting the people of Ukraine" (3 Mar, Autism Europe)

European Network on Independent Living War in Ukraine: Leave No One Behind (Mar, ENIL)

Appeal from the National Assembly of People with Disabilities of Ukraine appeal for help to "defend peace in our country", which speaks to the active role disabled people and their organizations are playing:

"Today in Ukraine, people with disabilities and disabled people’s organizations are helping our State and are standing shoulder to shoulder with our defenders. Everyone is trying to help as best they can: by cooking meals, working as dispatchers, delivering medicines, helping in hospitals, offering shelter to displaced people within the country, joining territorial civilian defence forces, or making Molotov cocktails. Yesterday we received information that a son, father and husband was killed near Kiev when defending his family, his home. He used a wheelchair but also joined the defence forces. Our world-famous paralympic athletes took up arms. We are united. " (2 Mar, EDF)

The United States International Council on Disabilities Calls for the Protection And Safety of Ukrainians with Disabilities (link to pdf, 25 Feb)

United Kingdom

Older people’s organisations across the UK call on the Prime Minister to take further action to support older people affected by war in Ukraine (10 Mar, Older People's Commissioner for Wales)

Evacuating or Leaving Ukraine


WHO supports an inclusive response to refugees with disabilities in Georgia. (Feb, WHO)


Enabling support for Ukrainian refugees with disabilities in the Republic of Moldova (Mar, WHO)

Rapid Needs Assessment of Older Refugees

"Only 22% of older people interviewed had a disability. This is surprisingly low and may reflect that many of those with a disability have found it harder to flee their homes. Agencies should be prepared in coming weeks for older people arriving who need assistive aids such as hearing aids, wheelchairs, and incontinence pads, which may have been left behind, lost, or broken along the journey. " (link to pdf, 10 Mar, Help Age)

"I want to go back" testimonies from older people who left Ukraine. (11 Mar, Help Age)


Profile of Mudita Association and its support to refugees with disabilities. (Mar, Borgen Magazine)

Post Distribution Monitoring for Targeted Cash Assistance for Ukrainian Refugees. Of the recipients “48% of them were persons with disabilities, 30% were people 60-years-old or above, and 22% were legal caretakers of person(s) with disability.” (Jan, Relief Web)

‘We long for home - but our son has chances here’: “their eldest son Roman, who has cerebral palsy and learning disabilities, has been given the chance to go to school for the first time. He is 20 years old.” See also a video feature. (Dec, BBC)

Situation analysis on the assistive technology needs of Ukrainian people in Poland. (May, WHO)

Interview with Autism-Poland Association on the situation on the border with Ukraine (Apr, EDF)

Ukrainian families with disabilities get new chance “Ukrainian families are finding better opportunities for their children with disabilities in Poland. Local volunteer organizations help them on their journey to adapt to their new life.” (DW)

Special assistance is needed for some refugees on those with disabilities arriving in Poland (in Polish, March, Rzeczpospolita)

Poland representative stated that mong the over million Ukrainians who arrived fleeing the war, 100,000 are with disabilities, mostly children. They are arriving without basic assistive technologies like wheelchairs, canes, etc. Poland is trying to find Ukrainian sign language interpreters, develop accessibility and support. (9 Mar, Alejandro Moledo) Polish rehabilitation centres are offering their services for free.

War refugees with disabilities in Poland - situation, support, needs. Links to this page with a list of resource organizations in Polish. (8 Mar, Inclusion Europe)


'My heart is torn': As war rages on at home, these young disabled Ukrainian swimmers are stranded in Turkey. (Apr, CNN)


Study Report: Rapid Assessment of the Experience of Evacuating People with Disabilities in Ukraine Due to the War in 2022. (Mar, UNDP)

Ensuring the protection of persons with disabilities fleeing from Ukraine. Report that “provides an overview of the situation in Ukraine, highlights the five priority actions to strengthen support to persons with disabilities fleeing from Ukraine.” (Jan, EDF)

Surviving the Russo-Ukraine War with disability – a feature with Tetyana Herasymova of Fight for Right. (Aug, Ink Stick Media)

‘Calls kept coming’: Ukraine’s network for the blind shelters displaced people: factories predominantly staffed by people with visual impairments provide shelter. (Jun, the Guardian)

Rapid needs assessment of displaced older people. The most widely reported need is cash support. (HelpAge) See also on Age International.

Evacuating the Vulnerable Amid the Terror of War photos and descriptions of the work of Vostok-SOS, evacuating people from Eastern Ukraine. (Jun, NYT)

How Misha, a 19-Year-Old With Down Syndrome, Escaped Ukraine (May, WSJ)

Here’s what Ukrainians with disabilities face as we cope with war A first-hand account of the first days of invasion and leaving Kharkiv to Western Ukraine by a blind woman with other disabled family members. (Apr, The New Humanitarian)

A rescue was organized from Russian occupied territory for a Ukrainian mother and disabled daughter (Apr, Info Migrants)

I fled Ukraine with a disability. “In this state of war, you start to think differently. You understand that HIV therapy is your life, and you understand just how badly you need access to this therapy.” (Apr, Business Insider)

The Informal International Network Getting Disabled Ukrainians Out of the War Zone Important especially in highlighting the active role persons with disabilities themselves play in humanitarian response. (Apr, Time)

Ministry of Social Policy reports on the evacuation of About 5,000 children from vulnerable categories being brought up in institutional care facilities (Mar, Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine)

Rules and documents from the Ministry of Social policy on who can accompany children and people with disabilities when crossing the border (in Ukrainian, I used google translate, Mar, HB)

BBC Ouch podcast 'I think of my wheelchair more than myself now' with Tanya from Fight for your Right, and a disabled Russian journalist who left Moscow after her article denouncing the Ukraine war went viral. (no transcript I think, 18 Mar, BBC)

Disabled children fleeing Kyiv received by Poles, Hungarians. Evacuation of residents of orphanages for children with disabilities. (3 Mar, KTAR News)

In-depth conversation with Tanya Herasymova, of Fight for your Right (15 Mar, Natasha Lipman)

In Touch podcast on the blind people and organizations supporting people in Poland and children with visual impairments in Lviv. As with so much of the response, these are individual, ad-hoc measures. (with transcript, 15 Mar, BBC)

Refugees on the Moldova-Ukraine border "We saw a fairly large number of older people arriving, as well as some people with disabilities who were being assisted in their journey. But the number is disproportionately low, compared to the population of Ukraine." (15 Mar, HelpAge)

Escaping the horror in Ukraine is not an option for many disabled children and their families One parent, stuck near the Polish border for several days described their daughter's need to resume physical therapy:

"Vika has been without rehabilitation for a very long time, her condition is deteriorating," Chuiska said. "She is constantly growing and her muscles do not develop at the same pace, so she is starting to lose the progress. She has started falling while walking and her legs are not developing well, she has pain in her legs now." (11 Mar, CNN)

Humanitarian efforts aren't doing enough to evacuate Ukrainians with disabilities A deeper look at the barriers disabled people are facing to leave, including being stopped at the border.

"Despite collective condemnation of Russia and support for Ukraine's sovereignty among the international community, the humanitarian response has lacked inclusivity and accessibility for many. From inaccessible evacuation centers to a lack of information in accessible formats such as braille or sign language, the lack of proper resources for people with disabilities has had devastating consequences." (8 Mar, MSNBC)

The Disabled Ukrainians Doing What the UN Can’t (or Won’t?) Behind the scenes on the ad-hoc connections within the disability community and lack of support from humanitarian organizations.

'But as we made these connections, reaching the highest heights of the “who’s who” of the humanitarian field, we were turned down every time. The typical line was that the organization lacked the ability to evacuate “personnel with those needs” – in other words, people with disabilities.

How fascinating (read: infuriating), given that every single one claims to serve the disability community in their promotional materials and appeals for funding. ' [...]

'Notice a pattern here? The disability community, already under-resourced and struggling, is consistently the only one to step in to help.' (9 Mar, FP2P)

Chaos, upheaval and exhaustion for Ukraine's disabled children. Evacuation of children with disabilities from one centre. "The bus to the Polish border was a capsule of exhaustion, grief and tender mercies." (8 Mar, BBC)

Ukrainian woman says people with disabilities 'left behind' after 'almost impossible' journey across the border. The experience of Tanya Herasymova, project coordinator of Fight For Our Right. "The only people who offered support is volunteers. Without people, such people, it couldn't be possible to evacuate for us." (2 Mar, Irish Mirror)

United Kingdom

Ukrainian refugee family with disabled son denied accessible house by East Renfrewshire Council (Feb, STV News)

Situation in Ukraine


Perils of War for Children in Institutions. “Russia Should End Deportations; Kyiv, Allies Should Support Families” (Mar, Human Rights Watch)

Harder than ever: How power outages affect people with disabilities in Ukraine. (Jan, Kyiv Independent)


Russian Soldiers Dream Of Being Injured In Ukraine, 'Getting Rich' From Disability Pay (Apr, International Business Times) I am sceptical of this dubiously sourced news. The publicly announced figures are in the region of €40,000 for families of soldiers who die, and almost €25,000 for those wounded. I question whether all those injured actually get that.


Impossible Choices A photoessay: “Life was a struggle for families of Ukrainians with disabilities before the war. It’s even harder now” (Mar, CNN)

‘They’re dying in large numbers’: Disabled Ukrainians face abuse, neglect in institutions. (Feb, EuroNews)

The Ukrainian Psychiatric Hospital That Endured Russian Occupation – photo-essay account from the director of an institution near Kyiv for people with mental and physical disabilities. “In the summer, the patients returned to their psychiatric home. Now they sometimes ask anxiously if the Russians will return. Many hold on to the idea that they need to stock up on bread. They hide it in their nightstands.” (Dec, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty)

“I used to have a home”: Older people’s experience of war, displacement, and access to housing.

“After older people were displaced from their homes, many struggled to find suitable accommodation. Pushed out of the private market by poverty, many older people turned to temporary shelters in schools, administrative buildings, train stations, former medical facilities, and sanitoriums. However, shelters were largely physically inaccessible to older people with disabilities and did not have staff with the capacity or skills to support people with disabilities. Sometimes, shelters said they could only take an older person with a disability if they were with somebody who could support them. Capacity at shelters that did have support services was extremely limited.”

“As a result, older people sometimes had no choice but to enter an institution for older people or people with disabilities after being displaced.” (Dec, Amnesty)

Photo-essay on how War Amputees Find Camaraderia in Recovery. (Oct, New York Times)

What the war means for Ukrainians with disabilities “Rights activists and carers are filling the gap as the war creates huge challenges in accessing disability support.” (Oct, Aljazeera)

For a Deaf Family in Ukraine, the Bombs Came Without Warning (Sep, New York Times)

Ukraine: UN committee ‘gravely concerned’ over treatment of people with disabilities. “Some people with disabilities in Ukraine remain trapped in life-threatening situations and must be evacuated to ensure they can access basic needs like food and heating as winter approaches,” (Sep, UN)

Children with disabilities disproportionately impacted by war in Ukraine. One concern raised is that “Ukraine seems to require third countries receiving children with disabilities to place them in facilities – even States that have successfully moved away from institutionalization for their own citizens.” (Aug, UN)

Ukrainian care center for disabled deals with the trauma of occupation. A story of being under attack, evacuating, and the subsequent return. (Jul, Washington Post)

'Left behind': How war is hitting the disabled in Ukraine. (Aug, Euronews.)

Ukraine orphanages: Children tied up and men in cots: “A BBC News investigation exposes the abuse and neglect of disabled people locked away in institutions across Ukraine.” BBC iPlayer has a feature Locked Away. (Jul, BBC)

As Russia’s invasion continues, Ukraine’s elderly and disabled struggle to survive “After a recent visit to hard-hit northeastern Ukraine, unarmed civilian protectors are exposing the lack of humanitarian engagement with the country’s most vulnerable populations.” (Jul, Waging Nonviolence)

People with disabilities left behind during the war in Ukraine (Jul, Devex)

War in Ukraine takes heavy toll on those with disabilities, and many can't leave (Jun, ABC News)

Interview with Child With Future on the situation of children with autism (Apr, EDF)

Alone under siege: how older women are being left behind in Ukraine. “I wonder why some young people evacuate their cats and hamsters, but leave their parents behind,” says Roman Vodyanyk, head doctor at Severodonetsk hospital in Luhansk (May, the Guardian)

In April a team from Disability Rights International visited Ukraine's institutions to report on those Left Behind in the War: “DRI finds that Ukraine’s children with disabilities with the greatest support needs are living in atrocious conditions – entirely overlooked by major international relief agencies and receiving little support from abroad.”:

“In two of four facilities DRI visited. However, we found that children and adults with greater support needs were left behind in the institutions of western Ukraine while less impaired or non-disabled children from the same institution were moved to Poland, Italy, and Germany. Directors we interviewed report that children with greater impairments are being left behind in institutions in the east.

“Children with greater impairments face the largest brunt of increased dangers. DRI investigators observed children tied down, left in beds in near total inactivity, and held in dark, poorly ventilated rooms that are so understaffed that they are enveloped in smells of urine and feces. Children rock back and forth or self-abuse as a result of years of emotional neglect. Staff have no resources or knowledge about how to respond to this behavior other than to restrain them for much of the day.” (May, DRI)

See also a short video with footage from the visit, or a short BBC report. Both have distressing images.

‘We have to go’: nursing home residents await evacuation in Donbas (Apr, the Guardian)

‘I feel so lost’: The elderly in Ukraine, left behind, mourn (Apr, AP News)

An unfolding horror story: Ukraine's disabled population has been left behind (Apr, iNews)

Public Health Catastrophe Looms in Ukraine “Even before the war, the country struggled with epidemics of H.I.V., tuberculosis and hepatitis. The conflict threatens to undo decades of progress.” (Mar, NYT) See also in the Independent.

One month of the Russian war on Ukraine in the words of families of people with intellectual disabilities. Photos and testimonies from around the country in this vital collection:

  • “Children are locked between four walls, do not have proper communication. After the explosions, many people have a fear of going out in the streets. All our achievements have come to nothing.”
  • “They bomb outside the window; we sit in apartments with adult children who do not understand why you can't go outside, why you can't go to the centre. They have problematic behaviour and epilepsy seizures.”
  • “I'm from Mariupol. It is hell.” (Mar, Inclusion Europe)

Updates on People with intellectual disabilities and families in Ukraine affected by Russian war. (Inclusion Europe) Includes the testimony of a mother with a 9-year-old son with autism:

"With the start of the war, we moved to another area, a city close to the border, but it did not last long, only 5 days.

My son was always nervous, resolving to dissatisfied kicking. The neighbours often complained about the noise. Any walk was accompanied by screaming, crying, the child’s lips trembled and his face lost colour.

When we left the apartment, we had to take out all our belongings, he ran and packed his bags, anxiously inspected whether we had forgotten anything. Eventually we returned home, I felt calmer and so did my son.

But the sirens and the basement became the next problem. Dragging him there was not easy, he did not understand why we were there and what was happening.

Then we decided to live improve it a bit in our basement, brought some things, goodies. Everything seemed to be fine, because the time in the basement lasted up to an hour. But later we had to stay there until 6 o’clock, we can’t get used to it.

We also have a curfew and at 20.00 the light should go out. This has become another problem for the child he can not understand. Because when you turn off the light, you need to sleep, and his biological clock says it’s not time. We are faced with self-aggression, he began to bite his hands and cry, lying on the ground. There was no way of a hug, the child did not want it categorically.

There was little light from the TV and nightlights and then we lit candles. For now, it’s calm.

I believe that everything will end soon, but my son has autism, and some things will become a habit for him. For example, we had dinner in the basement several times, and now he takes his dinner and demands to go downstairs, even if the sirens are not on." (16 March)

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) warns that millions of older people and people with disabilities now at high risk. "Nine out of ten older people need help to get food because they may have mobility issues and many live alone." (10 Mar, Age International) See also the press release from DEC.

For an overall view, see this UNDP warning that 30% of the population are likely to require life-saving humanitarian assistance and 90% of the population could be facing poverty and vulnerability to poverty. Does not mention persons with disabilities. (16 Mar)

Press Conference on experiences of persons with disabilities Act Now to Support Ukrainians with Disabilities and their Families. As well as giving context, gave testimonies of people in Ukraine:

“I am in Kyiv in the capital together with my adult daughter who is autistic and has behavioral disorders. Currently we cannot possibly leave the city of Kyiv. I also have my mother who is 82 years old. She cannot move. We cannot go downstairs to the bomb shelter. Please believe me and we are not alone in this situation. There are many of us in this situation, all over the city of Kyiv, all over Ukraine.” -- Yuliaa Klepets

“one of our NGO leaders has a son with autism and cannot leave him for more than one hour. Which means that she cannot queue for the pharmacy, for the supermarket, for the bank machine and therefore cannot get the drugs, the food, the money she needs. She needs help for even these basic amenities. We also know that those with severe disabilities, and those whose parents are older, they do not leave Ukraine. The trip is so difficult and so long.” -- Raisa Kravchenko (10 Mar, EASPD)

Professor fears for elderly immobile mother in Mariupol. "Her feeling is, it will just take too much time and effort to evacuate her out of her home and out of the war zone, and her plans are basically to stay put for as long as she can because she feels that really the world belongs to the future, to the women and children and the younger generations." (4 Mar, BBC)

Millions with disabilities ‘abandoned’ in Ukraine, charities fear “We have had disabled people who have called medical humanitarian-oriented agencies, have called their crisis hotline and said, ‘Hi, I’m a wheelchair user, with pressure sores. I need help’, and have been told: ‘Oh, we don’t help people with disabilities, you should call the Department of Social Protection’. If they manage to reach the borders, the refugee centres and buses are 'not wheelchair accessible'". (8 Mar, Independent)

Under Shelling in Kharkiv People with Disabilities Need to Evacuate Safely. (7 Mar, Human Rights Watch)

Stories from the ground in Ukraine collected testimonies from persons with disabilities.

"I move with the aid of a stroller. My mother lives with me, 78 years old and has suffered a stroke. We stayed at home. We run to our 'shelter' to the toilet, taped door and towels, with a bath of water in case it turns off, with pillows on the floor. I never thought bread and drinking water, chocolate, I will store in the washing machine. Near the washing machine there is a backpack with medicines, clothes. My mom and I went to our shelter nine times today. When there is no bombing, I call persons with disabilities, I ask whether all is well, what help is needed.' - person in Zhytomyr on 4th March (Mar, EDF)

First Days of War: A Report from Bucha, Kyiv Oblast

"Everyone is either running — out of buildings, into buildings — or is standing still in shock. And on the top floor of our five-story apartment building, one man stands alone on his balcony, leaning on the railing, apathetically smoking and watching the fire." (does not mention disability, 2 Mar, LA Review of Books)



People with intellectual disabilities, families in Ukraine April Updates (Apr, Inclusion Europe)

Generations Beat Online had put together news links on the situation of older persons in Ukraine (Apr, GBO News)

Protection Monitoring Highlights on how organizations are supporting displaced persons, including persons with disabilities. See the protection snapshot of 7th April for brief notes on support to those remaining in institutions. (Apr, Protection Cluster Ukraine)

Disability Inclusion Helpdesk Report Impacts of the Ukraine invasion for persons with disabilities and priority entry points in humanitarian response. (11 Mar, Inclusive Futures)

Resources, particularly from Germany and Slovakia, on Support for Sick, Disabled and Deaf People affected by the war. (Nowar.Help)

Updates from Inclusion Europe

Psychoeducational resources on PTSD and trauma translated into Ukrainian, Polish and Russian. (10 Mar, Psychology Tools)

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Ukraine resources. As of 16th March, estimates are almost 6.5 million internally disabled people. (OCHA)

Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration (GADRA) updates on support efforts to disability-led organizations in Ukraine (WID)

World Federation of the Deaf Updates on Ukraine. "Several deaf associations throughout the country dispersed these announcements. Interpreters have also been at work to ensure that government announcements are accessible, and a 24/7 video relay network still works to guarantee deaf people their right to make phone calls at all hours as necessary." (17 Mar)

The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies Ukraine Crisis. Practical information and resources.

The National Assembly of People with Disabilities has frequent updates on the evolving situation, in Ukrainian.

A Ukrainian translation of the WG Short Set on Functioning is now available. (Mar, The Washington Group on Disability Statistics)

European Disability Forum page on Ukraine War providing updates, testimonies of disabled people, resources, and further links. See also:

UNHCR portal on the Ukraine Refugee Situation which gives an indication of overall numbers in destination countries as well as the flash reports on the situation of displacement and refugees. (UNHCR)

Advice and support for those affected by the Ukrainian crisis Overview of organizations and resources in relation to older people, people with dementia and their families. (Alzheimer's Disease International)

Attacks on disabled people and facilities


Near Kherson, orphanage staff hid Ukrainian children from Russian occupiers. (Nov, Washington Post)

Social media posts chart life and death of girl in Russian strike (Jul, the Guardian)

Russian attack in Vinnytsia: “Among them was a four-year-old girl with Down syndrome, Liza, who never made it home from her speech therapy session.” (Jul, EDF)

‘Thank You for Not Killing Us’ An ordeal at a mental health facility in Ukraine illuminated the horrors of the Russian occupation, as the facility was taken hostage:

“The siege at the mental health facility dragged on for weeks, during which the building lost heat, water and electricity, and more than a dozen patients lost their lives. What unfolded there represents the depths of despair and at the same time amazing pluck under a brief but harrowing Russian occupation.“ (Apr, NYT)

Ukrainians With Disabilities At Breaking Point As Russian Onslaught Bears Down (Mar, Forbes)

Russian troops shoot dead disabled Ukrainian volunteer "The Governor claimed that Kononov, who voluntarily provided food, water, medicines, etc., to Ukrainian soldiers fighting pro-Moscow militants in Luhansk, was killed whilst he sat in his wheelchair at his home" (14 Mar, Republic World) See more in Hromadske, in Ukranian. And a tribute from Fight for Right.

Russia hit a psychoneurological institution in Pushcha-Vodytsya, Kyiv Patients and staff were evacuated in advance. (13 Mar, Spravdi)

Russian forces take over psychiatric hospital in central Ukraine "Russian forces have taken control of a psychiatric hospital in the town of Borodyanka in Ukraine's Kyiv region, with 670 people inside, the regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba told local media." (5 Mar, Reuters)

A school for the deaf hit, no injuries reported, on weekend of 5th/6th March. (7 Mar, World Federation of the Deaf)

Russia Shells Kharkiv Care Home for Adults, Children With Disabilities 73 were evacuated and no casualties were reported of the 330 residents. (12 Mar, Business Insider)



Immediate needs and an inclusive future: Persons with disabilities in Ukraine need more support. (Mar, EDF)

The monitoring of the accessibility of pre-fab camps for people with disabilities (Feb, League of the Strong)


Reflections from supporting response on building sustainability into disability rights work. (Feb, EDF)

the European Union Agency for Asylum Response to the War in Ukraine (Apr, EUAA)


Safe Haven And A Ray Of Hope For Ukrainian Orphans With Intellectual Disabilities (Nov, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty)


Decolonising disability and other ableism reflections. “Decolonising aid, and in particular decolonising disability, is a battle worth fighting. We want to address discriminatory and ableist practices within the humanitarian response in Ukraine. Funding needs to reach people with disabilities and their representative organisations.” (Mar, EDF)

Ukrainian soldiers benefit from U.S. prosthetics expertise but their war is different. (Feb, NPR)

Humanitarian needs of older men and women IDPs in Lviv and Lvivska oblast. (Nov, HelpAge)

Do not use Ukraine recovery money for institutions, but for support to independent living - Raisa Kravchenko. (Sep, Inclusion Europe)

Ukraine, where sirens sound day and night: a factsheet on persons with disabilities and emergency health services. (Oct, Humanity and Inclusion)

When sounds of war can't be heard: How one group is helping deaf Ukrainians survive (Aug, USA Today)

No One Should be Left Behind Disabled People in the Russia-Ukraine War and Armed Conflicts (Aug, Politics Today)

Reflections from HelpAge on six months in: delivery, impact and challenges. (Aug)

Cash Feasibility Assessment conducted on adult internally displaced people (IDPs) with disabilities in Ukraine in May/June. “The assessment shows that cash and emergency livelihoods support is highly needed and appropriate given the income loss all IDPs with disabilities have experienced since their displacement.” (Aug, NAIU)

The reconstruction of Ukraine must take into account human diversity — human rights defender Yuliya Sachuk (Jul, Fight For Right)

Sound of Silence “Now, a non-profit organization [Off The Grid Missions] is helping people who are deaf or hard of hearing learn of the danger.” (Jul, The News with Shepard Smith)

UNICEF launched project to support children with disabilities and their families (Jul, Disability Insider)

We must not neglect rehabilitation in Ukraine “The damage and disruption to usual health services, coupled with conflict related traumatic injuries and the forced displacement of millions of people, will create an enormous surge in rehabilitation needs.” (Aug, eClinicalMedicine)

Ukraine highlights efforts to close digital divide for people with disabilities (Jun, Relief Web)

‘I just can’t stand aside if I know that I can help’ “Disability rights activist Tetiana Barantsova escaped the war in Ukraine in a wheelchair. Now she’s helping others with disabilities to do the same.“ (Jun, UNHCR)

Open letter to US administration to Protect the Rights of People with Disabilities and Older People (Jul, Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies and others)

Disabled children and the war against Ukraine “The EU should ensure its humanitarian aid involves this vulnerable group while also supporting community-based disability support,” (Jun, Euractiv)

Key Principles and Recommendations for Inclusive Cash and Voucher Assistance in Ukraine (May, EDF)

People with disabilities in Ukraine are being left behind. “It's time for concerted humanitarian action” (May, World Economic Forum)

EDF Position Paper, the Recommended response to children from institutions in Ukraine. (Apr, EDF)

Support for the remaining disabled people in Ukraine as Nippon Foundation launches new initiative for those who are ‘trapped or abandoned’ (May, Valuable 500)

Short video montage on Off-The-Grid Missions supporting Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in Ukraine. (Apr, Off-The-Grid Missions)

A nice photoessay on the Luhansk Association of Organizations of People with Disabilities and the work they did before the most recent invasion as well as how they are responding now. (Mar, UNDP)

In the humanitarian response, the Age and Disability Technical Working Group is a forum for exchange and working to “effective mainstreaming of age and disability into the humanitarian response” since 2015. (Apr, OCHA Humanitarian Response)

Webinar discussion from GADRA and Fight for Right Ukrainians with disabilities In-depth discussion on the response. Include insights into the volunteer networks coordinating the response, some of the organizations supporting, and the challenges being faced. (11 Mar) See also the webinar transcript.

Fight for Right's Call to Action Prioritize Ukrainians with Disabilities. Relates experiences and calls for inclusion in response. (2 Mar, The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies) See also practical information for people with disabilities seeking to evacuate.

Update from the National Assembly of People with Disabilities of Ukraine on how they are responding (scroll down for English text, 17 Mar, NAIU)

Relief Web hub on the Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis. Overall information and key documents from the international humanitarian response.

Armed conflict and displacement heightens risks of all forms of sexual violence including trafficking in persons. Calls for responses to risks of trafficking in persons to be inclusive and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities. (16 Mar, OHCHR)

The UN High Commission for Refugees Summary of Regional Refugee Response Plan. Mentions the need to target and adapt services for persons with disabilities. (UNHCR)

Resources on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities during Armed Conflict (link to docx, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)

Global Protection Cluster update on Protection of persons with disabilities in Ukraine. Describes recommendations for an inclusive humanitarian response. (8 Mar)

Persons with disabilities in Ukraine face a ‘crisis within a crisis’ "Civil society calls on the EU, national governments and humanitarian organisations to step up efforts to protect Ukraine’s 2.7 million persons with disabilities who risk abandonment, death or a lack of shelter amid Russia’s invasion." (15 Mar, Euractiv)

A rapid review: Can social protection be sustained and support a humanitarian response? "the Ukrainian Government has moved with remarkable speed to adapt systems to ensure the delivery of existing programmes." Includes mention of disability-related benefits. (14 Mar, CIDT)

Eastern Ukraine


Survey of more than 1,500 over-60s: Older people on the edge of survival "Older people make up a third of all people in need of assistance in Ukraine, making this conflict the ‘oldest’ humanitarian crisis in the world. One in four people in Ukraine are over 60-years-old and Ukraine has the largest percentage of older people affected by conflict in a single country in the world." (Mar)

“We Live Like We Are Homeless” The Consequences of Conflict for Displaced People with Disabilities in Eastern Ukraine (Mar 2020, Human Rights Watch)

Ukraine frontline: disabled and elderly people threatened after 7 years of conflict (Oct 2021, Fair Planet)

Access to health-care services for older persons and persons with disabilities living in Eastern Ukraine along the "line of contact". "In the two oblasts of Luhansk and Donetsk, where health indicators were among the lowest even before the conflict, the situation has grown worse, leaving those living in the area to face increased health expenditure, including transport costs and out-of-pocket payments for services that are supposed to be free." (2021, WHO)

How People with Disabilities Live in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts Based on a survey in both government and nongovernment-controlled areas. (2019)

People with Limited Mobility Can’t Access Pensions Challenges those who live in nongovernment-controlled areas had to access their benefits. (Jan 2020, Human Rights Watch)