National disability policy launched
Disabled people playing basketball at the Manut Bol memorial tournament last year(file photo).
South Sudan’s government has launched a national disability and inclusion policy that aims to protect and promote people with disabilities in the country.
The policy will address challengesbeing faced by persons with disabilities and protect their rights and dignity, said Awut Deng Acuil, minister of gender and social welfare, speaking at the launch on Thursday.
“The policy objectives include to ensure access to services to all persons with disabilities,” Awut said.
With the escalating violence and continuing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, people with disabilities often become victims of crime and are being excluded from health services, education, physical rehabilitation and humanitarian response efforts, according to UNHCR.WHO figures show an estimated 250,000 persons with disabilities live in IDP camps in South Sudan.
Bol Macuor,whose left left was disabled after he got polio when he was a child, questions the impact of the policy on people with disabilities.
“The government can bring a policy but they do not implement it,” Bol said. He said there needs to be action, not just words.
“Prepare the policy, execute it immediately,” he said before adding: “It is not going to help us now because they do not know what happens with other (disabled)people.”
Bol added that the government should have consulted with disabled people before launching the policy.
Minister Awut said according to the 2008-2009 census, about 5% of people in South Sudan are living with disabilities.
The new national policy will strengthen persons with disabilities in capacities, decision-making and encourage their participation in politics and development process in the country, she added.
“The policy will promote respect and protection of human rights for the persons with disabilities in South Sudan,” the minister added.
She continued that said that the policy will prioritise advocacy, awareness and raisingequal access to health services, education and employment opportunities for the disabled, something Bol said is needed.
The minister of general education and instruction,Deng Deng Hoc Yaisaid the disability policy will make society free from discrimination in terms of access to services. He reiterated that the government is committed to promoting and protecting the rights of people with disabilities.
However, the minister added that there is a need for mobilization of funds to enable the implementation of the disability and inclusion policy.
For his part, the chairman of persons with disabilities organization, Augustino Longulo Elario urges for employment and scholarship opportunities to qualified disable persons.