People with disabilities among hardest hit by pandemic: UN chief

The Nation  |  Dec 05, 2021

On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday that people with disabilities were among those most affected by the pandemic.

"COVID-19 has laid bare the persistent barriers and inequalities faced by the world's 1 billion persons with disabilities," he said.

In his view, a disability-inclusive pandemic response and recovery should be led by people with disabilities themselves.

It should also "forge partnerships, tackle injustice and discrimination, expand access to technology and strengthen institutions to create a more inclusive, accessible, and sustainable post-COVID-19 world."

About 80 percent of people with disabilities live in developing countries, according to the UN. Nearly 46 percent of people aged 60 and older have a disability.

One in every five women is likely to experience disability in her life, while for children, that figure is one in 10.

The top UN official urged all countries to fully implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to meet the needs of these people.

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He said governments should also improve accessibility and dismantle legal, social, economic and other barriers with the active participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations.

"Realizing the rights, agency and leadership of persons with disabilities will advance our common future," he argued. "We need everyone, including persons with disabilities on board, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals."

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an international observance promoted by the United Nations since 1992. It has been observed with varying degrees of success around the planet. The observance of the day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. Each year the day focuses on a different issue. The theme of this year is "Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world." 

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