UNDP trains Ukrainian specialists on strengthening crisis communication during war

September 12, 2023

Employees from Ukraine’s State Emergency Service learn how to assist people with visual impairments.

Photo: Yevhen Zavhorodnii / UNDP in Ukraine

Kyiv, 12 September 2023 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), has completed a series of trainings focused on ethical communication with individuals with disabilities, especially those affected by war-related incidents such as landmine explosions.

Aligned with Ukraine's Action Plan for the Creation of a Barrier-Free Space the sessions aimed to equip emergency response teams – including the "112" hotline operators, MIA communication specialists, medical professionals, and psychologists – with skills to effectively aid all citizens during crises.These efforts, supported by UNDP and the Government of Japan, emphasize the priority of ensuring inclusive and comprehensive emergency services in times of conflict.

Olena Ursu, Team Leader, UNDP Democratic Governance Portfolio, said the war has caused the number of persons with disabilities to increase dramatically. “As we build a barrier-free environment, it is important to increase understanding of various types of disabilities and break down communication barriers when interacting with them,” she said. “Critical and life-saving information needs to be accessible so people know what actions to take during emergencies."

During the training, more than 340 specialists were equipped with insights and guidelines on addressing the unique needs of individuals with diverse disabilities – ranging from hearing and vision to musculoskeletal, cognitive, and mental challenges – ensuring effective communication and service delivery.

Liudmila Tymoshchuk, chief specialist of the Barrier-Free and Non-Discrimination Department within the Human Rights Monitoring Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said we need to adopt language that avoids stereotypes, diagnoses, and unnecessary emphasis on an individual's characteristics. "This is particularly important as the "112 System" began operating relatively recently, making it crucial for dispatchers to establish the correct approach to interacting and cooperating with persons with disabilities," she said.

Yuliia Malihonova, the head of the Gender Equality Sector at the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, emphasised the importance of communication ethics when assisting any consumer. "This training is helping our psychological and medical teams to integrate their newfound knowledge, enhancing their approach when assisting citizens with limited mobility and diverse impairments," she said.

Background: The training was organized within the project ‘Promotion of human security in Ukraine through responding to the multidimensional crisis caused by the war’ funded by the Government of Japan. This activity complies with the International Mine Action Standard (IMAS 13.10), which stipulates that comprehensive assistance to people injured by mines should include immediate and continuous medical care, rehabilitation, psychological and psychosocial support, and socio-economic inclusion.

Media enquiries: Yuliia Samus, UNDP Ukraine Head of Communications; e-mail: yuliia.samus@undp.org