Persons with disabilities demand equitable representation

By Nema Juma & Ajak Chol

Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) have appealed for equitable treatment, free from discrimination and victimization in all aspects of life as far as disability is concerned.

Speaking during the event marking the commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities held under the theme: “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”, Augustino Lomole, chairperson of South Sudan Union of Persons with Disabilities appealed to the government and the general public to promote and preserve the dignity and rights of persons with disabilities without any form of discrimination or mistreatment against them.

“We appeal to the government and the able-bodied citizens of South Sudan to care for and treat persons with disabilities with a defined sort of brotherliness and kindness,” Augustino said.

He further called upon the government to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by UN for the rights of persons with disabilities citing the fact that South Sudan is a member state of UN.

He also called for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all organs of government with 5% affirmative action and asked the government to consider levying tax to half of government utilities by persons with disabilities.

Meanwhile, NGO representatives, Patrick Chaniga applauded the government for its usual support and collaboration with development partners working in support of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.

Patrick further appealed to development partners more especially to those working to empower the persons with disabilities to continue extending their noble support to them.

Meanwhile, an advocate for persons with disabilities, Stephen Dhieu expressed his grievances saying the persons with disabilities have been marginalized in parliament and societies adding that they have been excluded mainly in the national and local assemblies, ministries, education institutions, denied access to information.

He revealed that South Sudan has no representation of the persons with disabilities in the national parliament unlike other countries like Uganda, South Africa, with a 6 and 25 percent respectively. The United Kingdom, the United States also have inclusion of persons with disability.

“For us we have zero representation of persons with disabilities and that doesn’t make sense as a country with the autonomy, with all power to do our things,

I blame the individuals in the ministries who are taking advantage of the persons with disabilities thinking that they are useless and that they can only be made a project to benefit from. I condemn it,” Dhieu said.

He mentioned that at least the women have a 35 percent representation in the national parliament, national assembly, ministries and that that is the reason why their voices are heard unlike them with no inclusion.

Dhieu stated that persons with disabilities fall under the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare (MGCSW) and have a representative who mobilizes funding, but according to him, this funding is not well utilized to support a better livelihood for the persons with disabilities in the country.

“The persons with disabilities have a representative there who mobilizes funding from foreign countries but they have no national and comprehensive strategies to develop and change the lives of the PWDs but instead they mobilize resources and do nothing in the campaigns. We need mobilization and advocacy for the PWDs in the national government,” Dhieu stressed.

He further proposed to formulate a database which will be used by the government, national and international NGOs to provide services like education, life skills and training services for the persons with disability adding that which will contain data like demographics with which it is hard to allocate and mobilize resources for the persons with disabilities by the developmental bodies. This strategy will contain solutions to some of the disabilities caused by disease.

“I intend to develop a national strategy to formulate a database that will be certified by South Sudan National Bureau of Statistics that will include how these different disabilities are caused. If it is disease, the government and the international community can find ways. That is how it is in other countries.” He suggested.

He concluded with the fact that the government does not plan for them in the national budget but instead the money given to other bodies to support persons with disabilities does not fulfill its intended purpose

“The government has no budget allocated for the PWDs in anyway, they only have the salaries for people working in rehabilitation areas with no actual PWDs so they know not the pain that they go through,” Dhieu concluded

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by UN was founded in 2008 to reaffirm that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Steven Dhieu Kuach is an advocate for the persons with disabilities in South Sudan, with a Master’s Degree in International Law and a special Degree in Social Work and Social Administration; he aims to develop a national strategy which is to have a database, certified by South Sudan National Bureau of Statistics. This strategy will provide solutions like mitigating disability caused by disease in South Sudan.   

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