The COVID-19 pandemic is brewing a perfect storm that could facilitate violations for many people with disabilities who are subject to harmful practices; in particular, those with mystified or relatively rare conditions such as persons with albinism. Their situation, already precarious due to harmful stigma and physical attacks, is exacerbated by the closures caused by the pandemic. As many harmful practices increase in times of uncertainty and economic downturn, and are often perpetuated by relatives and friends, it is more important than before to ensure that national protection measures are inclusive of persons with albinism and others vulnerable to such harmful practices.
The COVID-19 pandemic and emergency measures taken by States around the world raise many challenges and concerns with regard to persons with disabilities, especially for those in residential care. Measures undertaken to stop the spread of virus may increase risks that the human rights of these people are violated. In such situations, when closed institutions are becoming even more closed, the need for independent monitoring becomes more important than ever before.
The COVID-19 pandemic represents a threat to the lives of people with disabilities. COVID-19 is hitting hard in our community, feeding on and deepening the historical and structural discrimination against people with disabilities. Social care institutions, nursing homes and psychiatric facilities, where people with disabilities are often institutionalised or detained against their will, have become hotspots of the pandemic, accounting for half of the fatalities in some countries. Governments across the world must act fast to guarantee that all COVID-19 responses are accessible and disability-inclusive.