Created in 1982 to help injured refugees who had fled from Cambodia to Thailand, Handicap International has grown into an international organisation operating in over 60 countries. Although primarily involved in working with disabled people, the not-for-profit also helps vulnerable people to improve their way of life.
The organisation has national offices located in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Together they identify projects and deploy resources across Africa, Asia, Russia, South and Central America and South-Eastern Europe.
Passionate about empowering people with disabilities to exercise their human rights, the charity works hard to promote security, education, health and employment for all, but particularly those people whose lives have been ravaged by war, disease and disaster. The organisation believes passionately in the fundamental human rights of everyone, regardless of race, colour, creed and disability.
Handicap International has had a massive impact in raising public awareness about the dangers of landmines, leading to the organisation receiving the Nansen Refugee Award in 1996. The charity went on to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for its work in helping to develop the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines which led to the creation of the Mine Ban Treaty.
Handicap International responds to disasters, catastrophes and areas of conflict. In recent months the charity has been active in working with victims of the conflict in Syria and has conducted interviews with over 1,800 people who have become displaced due to the crisis. According to the charity’s research, a little under half of those interviewed sustained injuries directly related to the current conflict, most of these from gunshots and explosives.
In response to the typhoon in the Philippines in November 2013, Handicap International has deployed teams of volunteers and aid workers to help the most vulnerable people affected by the devastation of their homes, villages and towns. Focusing primarily on the old, the young and the disabled, the organisation has already provided over 4,000 people with tents, blankets and cooking equipment. Access to clean, safe drinking water is a prime concern, and Handicap International has provided pumps which enable up to 50,000 people to access fresh water supplies.
Rehabilitation of disabled people is a prime concern of the organisation, which supplies prosthetic limbs, walking aids and rehabilitation services to those in need. Great care is taken to ensure that correct and appropriate solutions are made available to people in need of help, along with physiotherapy and training to ensure that help and assistance is ongoing to enable communities to become self-sufficient.