Kampala | 7 July 2022: The Minister of State for Disability Affairs Hon. Asamo Hellen, has expressed that the Government remains fully committed to better the lives of persons with disabilities and called upon UN agencies to join the efforts. This was at a high-level breakfast meeting jointly organised by OHCHR and the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) for government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), UN agencies and development partners to disseminate the commitments made by the Government during the second Global Disability Summit early 2022.
“A lot of achievements have been registered by government in as far as protection and empowerment of persons with disabilities are concerned. But at the same time, I am here to urge each of us to realise that a lot more needs to be done in line with the SDG’s principle of ‘leaving no one behind”, said the minister.
On behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator, WFP Country Representative Abdirahman Meygag welcomed the commitments and emphasised their importance towards advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the principle of leaving no one behind.
Representatives from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Public Services, and the Office of the Prime Minister presented the Government’s commitments under five thematic areas: (i) capacity enhancement of persons with disabilities and their organisations, (ii) inclusive education, (iii) inclusive health, (iv) inclusive employment and livelihood, and (v) inclusion in situations of crises and conflict, including a focus on climate change.
The importance of research and needs assessment to map out the specific needs of persons with disabilities was mentioned in several areas. Understanding different levels of disability was described as necessary for effective interventions. It was acknowledged that existing technologies offer great potential if properly tapped into, not least to support students with disabilities. Significant attention was given to how persons with disabilities should be included in disaster and crisis management. For example, it was stated that persons with disabilities should be included in committees on climate and disaster.
The participants welcomed the commitments made by the Government officials and raised a number of points to consider. UNODC noted that further attention must be given to extending the rights of persons with disabilities to apply also to those that have been in conflict with the law, e.g. prisoners. The EU noted that the extensive research and mapping of needs would be costly and require a lot of resources allocated to be successful. WHO noted that the discussion must also consider how to prevent avoidable disabilities and not only focus on how to respond to them. UNFPA noted the need for an updated analysis of the current state of affairs. UN Women called for a more holistic approach to reach the SDGs and stressed that addressing the needs of persons with disabilities should not be seen as a box to tick. Instead, persons with disabilities need to be represented at all levels of decision-making and contribute to national development.
While closing the meeting, Commissioner for Equity and Rights, Mr Benard Mujuni expressed appreciation to all participants for supporting the Government in its efforts to enhance the rights of persons with disabilities. The Commissioner also appealed to the participants to financially support the Government in its continuous work on these issues.