Report Shows the Worsening Situation of Persons with Disabilities in Myanmar
Aysu Amaha Öztürk
Myanmar and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
Last week, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published a report on the humanitarian needs in Myanmar. While covering a diverse set of topics, the status quo regarding the life quality of persons with disabilities was also highlighted.
It was stated in the report that persons with disabilities in Myanmar have been subjected to discrimination and have been getting disproportionately affected by new crises. With much violence across the country, many new persons have become disabled, which makes this problem more widespread (OCHA, 2023). Furthermore, because the conflict is ongoing, the availability and accessibility of data concerning the needs of persons with disabilities have been hindered. Advocacy for persons with disabilities has also been limited as there is a fear of reprisal (OCHA, 2023).
There is also a great need for Myanmar to develop its healthcare system as it collapsed during the conflict (OCHA, 2023). This means that persons with disabilities do not have access to routine care or rehabilitation services. Next to this, there are also attitudinal barriers to medical help, hinting at the role that the aforementioned discrimination plays in the right to healthcare (OCHA, 2023).
Myanmar ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2011 (Ratification Status for Myanmar). Article 5 of the CRPD gives that state parties are to prohibit all discrimination on the basis of disability and promote equality. It can be seen that Myanmar is failing to ensure this for persons with disabilities, and making the situation more severe with the conflict. Moreover, Article 11 states that state parties are to protect persons with disabilities in situations of risk such as conflict and humanitarian emergencies. Lastly, Article 25 provides that persons with disabilities should have access to the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. There is no doubt that Myanmar is not fulfilling Article 11 and even making access to health more difficult by the existing conflict. Myanmar should take immediate action to protect persons with disabilities, especially in this time of conflict, in accordance with the CRPD.
Sources and further reading:
OCHA (2023). 2023 Humanitarian Needs Overview Myanmar. Humanitarian Programme Cycle. https://myanmar.un.org/en/215663-2023-humanitarian-needs-overview-myanmar
Human Rights Bodies. Ratification Status for Myanmar. United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies Database. https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/TreatyBodyExternal/Treaty.aspx?CountryID=119&Lang=EN