People with disabilities among hardest hit by pandemic: UN chief

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

United Nations, (Asian independent) On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which falls on December 3 annually, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said 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 on Friday.

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

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 per cent of people with disabilities live in developing countries, according to the UN. Nearly 46 per cent 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.

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 organisations.

“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 UN 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 mobilise 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.”