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South Sudan, 30 May 2013: See the child – before the disability, UNICEF says

Inclusion of children with disabilities benefits society as a whole

Juba, South Sudan, 30 May 2013 – UNICEF today launched the State of the World’s Children Report 2013. The report which highlights the situation of children living with disabilities calls for more efforts to support their integration in order to help tackle the discrimination that pushes them further into the margins of society.

"When you see the disability before the child, it is not only wrong for the child, but it deprives society of all that child has to offer," said UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Their loss is society's loss; their gain is society's gain.”

The report lays out how societies can include children with disabilities because when they play a full part in society, everyone benefits. 

“Children with disabilities have the same rights and needs as all children; therefore they should be given equal opportunities to ensure that they grow up to their full potential to become independent and productive citizens. They need to be recognized right from birth and their rights respected throughout their life,” said UNICEF South Sudan’s Representative Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque.

For many children with disabilities, exclusion begins in the first days of life with their birth going unregistered. Lacking official recognition, they are cut off from the social services and legal protections that are crucial to their survival and prospects. Their marginalization only increases with discrimination. For example, nodata exists on children living with disabilities who are less than six years in South Sudan.

According to the 2008 census 75.7% of all people living with disabilities in South Sudan have never attended school contributing to the high illiteracy rates in the country. In 2011, an estimated 22,896 or 1.6% of the total school population who were identified as learners with special needs in South Sudan primary schools (EMIS 2011). 

“Children with disabilities in South Sudan continue to be isolated when it comes to education as the schools in South Sudan are not well equipped with facilities for children with,” said Handicap International’s Advocacy Officer, Mr. Henry Swaka

Globally, there is little accurate data on the number of children with disabilities, what disabilities they have and how disabilities affect their lives. As a result, few governments have a dependable guide for allocating resources to support and assist children with disabilities and their families.  

The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities says that children with disabilities are the least likely to receive health care or go to school. They are among the most vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, particularly if they are hidden or put in institutions – as many are because of social stigma or the economic cost of raising them. 

“One of the worst things about being deaf is that I cannot communicate with people and sometimes this results in mistreatment and isolation. Severally I have been given the wrong medication because the doctors could not understand,” Ms Jackline Moses Ayombo

About one third of the world’s countries have so far failed to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The report urges all governments to keep their promises to guarantee the equal rights of all their citizens – including their most excluded and vulnerable children.

Progress is being made toward the inclusion of children with disabilities, albeit unevenly, and The State of the World’s Children 2013 sets out an agenda for further action.

The report urges governments to ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to support families so that they can meet the higher costs of caring for children with disabilities.

It calls for measures to fight discrimination among the general public, decision-makers and providers of such essential services as schooling and health care. 

International agencies should make sure the advice and assistance they provide to countries is consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. They should promote a concerted global research agenda on disability to generate data and analysis that will guide planning and resource allocation, the report says.

It emphasizes the importance of involving children and adolescents with disabilities by consulting them on the design and evaluation of programmes and services for them.

And everyone benefits when inclusive approaches include accessibility and universal design of environments to be used by all to the greatest extent possible without the need for adaptation.

"The path ahead is challenging," said Mr. Lake in Da Nang, Viet Nam, for the launch of the report. "But children do not accept unnecessary limits. Neither should we."


The State of the World's Children 2013: Children with Disabilities and see additional multimedia material

For broadcasters, b-roll and other video material on children with disabilities is available at:


UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:

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For further information, please contact:

Mercy Kolok, Communication Officer, UNICEF South Sudan 
Tel: + 211 (0) 955639658     Email: 



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