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UNICEF calls for joint effort to support integration of disabled Afghans

New report shows that people with disabilities have contribution to make but are hampered by negative attitudes from society

KABUL, 2 December 2004 – Public perceptions of disabled Afghans will be in the spotlight today, with the presentation of preliminary findings from a new report on the issue commissioned by UNICEF and CDAP.

UNICEF will present the findings as its contribution to International Day of the Disabled, which is being celebrated today in Afghanistan. The report, drawing upon a two month survey in Kabul, Jalalabad and Herat, identifies some of the key difficulties facing people with disabilities as they strive to play a role in reconstruction efforts and underlines the continuing stigma associated with disabilities in Afghan society.

Segregation from society affects most disabled people, according to the report. This takes the form of verbal and physical abuse, lack of access to education and health care, lack of social opportunities, barriers to employment and discrimination. Such isolation affects not just people with disabilities, but also their families’ status in society.

Taking data from nearly 500 interviews and 48 focus group discussions with people with disabilities, the report’s preliminary findings urge that increased awareness is a vital prerequisite to integration of disabled people. The report calls for

  • Public information campaigns to present the positive contributions that can be made by disabled people
  • Improved knowledge about causes of disabilities, and how people with disabilities should be cared for
  • Advocacy by key influencers such as the media, religious leaders and health workers
  • Education about disabilities in schools
  • Improved health services for people with disabilities
  • Improved access to public buildings and
  • Incentive schemes to encourage employers to recruit people with disabilities

Welcoming the report’s focus on reducing stigma and encouraging integration of people with disabilities, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan Bernt Aasen said today “We probably see examples of disability in Afghanistan every day, but few of us fully appreciate the many challenges that disabled people face in society. It is essential that a new debate begins, today, on how opportunities can be created for people with disabilities to play a fulfilling role in the rebuilding of their nation.”

Aasen stressed the need for a multi-actor approach to promoting integration. “Disability touches nearly every aspect of life in Afghanistan, so the response must involve a wide range of players,” he said. “UNICEF is determined, for its part, to reduce exclusion of disabled children in society; today’s report will help us to examine ways to help bring education, health and other services to all children, disabled and able-bodied”

For more information, please contact
Edward Carwardine, UNICEF Afghanistan : +93 (0)796 07400, ecarwardine@unicef.org





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