Norway steps up support for vulnerable groups in humanitarian crises

Norway is earmarking NOK 40 million for efforts to help people with disabilities and to combat sexual violence in humanitarian crises. 'Certain groups are more vulnerable than others in situations of war and conflict. Norway will intensify its efforts to prevent violence and injury, and to help those who are affected,' said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is playing a leading role among international organisations, both in the work to combat sexual violence and in efforts to support people with disabilities. The Government is therefore increasing its support for this work by NOK 10 million, to a total of NOK 40 million.

Safe access to some humanitarian cases through the humanitarian passage in Boustan al Qasar - Aleppo Credit: Abdul Kader Fayad - SARC

'In areas of war and crisis, the situation for people with disabilities is particularly difficult. Three out of four have problems finding shelter, medical assistance, and enough food and water. Children with special needs are often excluded from education. The lack of assistance and protection experienced by vulnerable groups in turn increases their risk of being subjected to violence and sexual abuse,' said Mr Brende.

Some of the funds from Norway will be channelled to the ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled, which among other things funds prostheses, wheelchairs, physiotherapy and other essential equipment and services at rehabilitation centres in 20 low-income countries. The ICRC also provides training in preventing accidents caused by landmines and other weapons.

In 2016, the focus of the ICRC's efforts to combat sexual violence will be on certain countries that are particularly affected, including Syria, DR Congo, South Sudan and Mali. The organisation is working to prevent sexual violence and to provide health services and psychosocial support for victims.

'The ICRC is one of our most important partners in Syria. Preventing sexual violence and supporting the victims are high priorities in Norwegian humanitarian aid policy, not least in the Syria crisis, where we are intensifying our efforts. The ICRC is often able to reach vulnerable groups in areas that are less accessible,' said Mr Brende.

Norway provided NOK 649 million in humanitarian aid to the International Red Cross system last year.