Afghanistan marks Disabled Day

Dignity and justice for all of us” is the theme of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities and also the theme for the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Themes are based on the goal of full and equal enjoyment of human rights and participation in society by persons with disabilities.

The day is very relevant to Afghanistan where 2.7 per cent of its population or about 800,000 people, has a severe disability, including around 60,000 Afghans who were maimed in landmine-related accidents.

More than 600 Afghans have fallen victim to landmine accidents in the first 10 months of 2008.

Dr. Haider Reza

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed annually on 3 December. The objective is to promote an understanding of disability issues, mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities and increase awareness of benefits of integrating persons with disabilities into every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

“In Afghanistan, we have a serious responsibility to do this since it concerns so many of our citizens” said Dr. Haider Reza, the Head of the United Nations Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan (UNMACA), in a gathering today in Kabul to mark the day.

Since its inception, the United Nations has recognized that the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are the foundations of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

On the 3rd of May 2008, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol opened for signatory. These are legally binding instruments which set out the legal obligations of States to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities.

“Afghanistan is not yet a signatory to the convention. However, the issues and objectives covered by the Afghanistan National Disability Action Plan have linkages to the Convention and will prepare Afghanistan to more fully address the rights of persons with disabilities in the country once it has acceded, which we hope will be soon” added Dr. Reza.

“Let us use “dignity and justice for all of us” as a rallying call and make every effort to make this a reality for our fellow Afghans living with disabilities”, concluded Dr. Reza.