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People with disabilities want equal representation in National Dialogue

By Moses Gum Degur

People living with disabilities are urging the government and the National Dialogue Steering Committee to include more of them in all institutions of government for equal participation and representation.

The group including the deaf, dumb, blind, “wounded heroes,” the physically disabled and widows, made the plea at the launch of a Monthly Forum on the National Dialogue organized by Helping Hands Organization in partnership with UNDP and the Japanese Embassy on Friday.

The event was launched under the theme: “End Political and Communal Violence, Promoting National Unity and Good Governance in the Republic of South Sudan”

Addressing the participants, Joseph Lino Loro, the representative of Persons with Hearing Impairment said they need to be included in the National Dialogue process to ensure a meaningful and lasting peace.

He said the “endless protracted war” which resulted to many peoples’ disabilities hasnegatively affected them.

Lino said many people living with disabilities have contributed a lot in the liberation of South Sudan.

“These vulnerable groups are now being neglected and are not getting effective services which make them live below the normal standard in the country. As part of liberators they need to be considered and supported for they are part of the community,”he said.

Lino said it is a prerequisite for the government to consider participation and inclusion of people with disabilities in the National Dialogue process.

Maria Gideon Gakmar, a representative of Widows who also doubles as Deputy Director in the commission for War Widows and Orphans appealed to the national government to empower widows and give them training opportunities to support themselves and their families.

“We need our government to help people with disabilities in training and capacity building, women empowerment as well as life skills training in order to support their children,” she said.

Gakmar said the country need its citizens unite and start building the country.

She appealed to the government to ratify the United NationsConvention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to support Disability Policy.

The Head of Information and Communication at the National Dialogue Steering Committee, Alfred Taban urged the disabled people to speak up in order to get solutions to their problems.

“We need people to be frank,” he said. Don’t hide anything, you express yourself fully for your views to be heard,” Taban said. When you express yourself, you give hope to your people in restoring peace in the country.”

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