DRILifeSaver: Protect Children and Adults with Disabilities in Ukraine’s Institutions

We need your help.

For thirty years, Disability Rights International (DRI) has been a global leader in using human rights documentation to fight violence and abuse against children and adults with disabilities. During the COVID pandemic, access to institutions became more difficult at a time that institutions became even more dangerous. DRI created DRILifeSaver to address this pressing need for oversight and monitoring.  Little did we expect the need would be even greater when the threat was magnified by the danger of war.

The crisis in Ukraine brings a new level of urgency to our work.  The war has generated millions of refugees and internally displaced people. Children and adults with disabilities face barriers to escape the violence, get access to shelters, or find accessible transportation to safe areas. 

Locked away and out of public view, people in institutions, orphanages, psychiatric facilities, and children separated from families are at risk of being left behind – even when relief and support is available.  Children in institutions may be abandoned by staff and caregivers or left without food and essential support. Without protection and oversight, children and adults with disabilities are at risk of violence and human trafficking.   During the war in Ukraine, civilians and health care facilities are being targeted for attack, making institutional placement even more dangerous. 

DRILifeSaver (www.DRILifeSaver.org) is a web-based program allowing individuals to easily and anonymously self-report discrimination or abuse they have experienced or witnessed.  It is designed to be simple to use and accessible to people with disabilities, including people who cannot read or enter text using a keyboard.  The website accepts written text, audio, still photos and video uploads.   DRILifeSaver is available in Ukrainian, Russian, and English.  It will soon be translated into the languages of the countries where Ukrainian refugees are living in temporary and potentially dangerous circumstances.

The purpose of obtaining this information is to inform and enhance advocacy and international relief efforts by DRI and our partners. We will share information about immediate humanitarian needs with groups providing direct aid.  DRILifeSaver will collect information and evidence to be used when the war is over – against those who may be charged with war crimes.

We need your help. Our DRI staff in Ukraine are jeopardizing their lives to help children with disabilities who are at risk of being trafficked, abandoned, and left to die.   Please spread the word about needs and abuses that can be reported at www.DRILifeSaver.org.

And please contribute to DRI to support this urgent effort.

We care and we know you care too. Thank you.

Love, Laurie

President, DRI