International Day of Persons with Disabilities was celebrated nationally in Eritrea, on December 2 in the subzone of Akrya, in Asmara, under the theme “Enhance the self-reliance of persons with disability through community support”. The celebration was made colorful with heart-touching activities beyond everyone’s expectation.
The programme was attended by Mrs. Luul Gebreab, Minister of Labor and Human Welfare, PFDJ officials, high ranking officials, governmental and non-governmental partners, parents, students and other invited guests. .
Minister Luul Gebreab gave a keynote speech welcoming the guests and stressing that disability is not a curse and can affect any person unexpectedly through different causes. The Eritrean government has been working to create equal ground for every citizen and especially for those who are disabled since they are part and parcel of the society and their affair is the whole Eritrean population’s affair.
Minister Luul said, all ministries, national associations and associations of the disabled have been putting a lot of efforts on health and education to protect people from disability. This year’s theme remind us to abandon the negative views about the disability and to make sure self-reliance of the disabled is going to be ensured through the help of their community.
In her final remarks she said that the contribution of people with disability is high but this can be maintained only if the love and respect of the community towards them is great. The march towards self-reliance of every citizen, including the disabled, has been in progress with much success, but we have a long way to go before we achieve self-reliance. The disabled can lead their lives and stand on their own because at the end “there is a disabled person not disabled mind”.
Dr. Pierre Ngom, UNICEF representative in Eritrea, gave a speech on behalf of Ms. Susan Ngongi, UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Eritrea. In his note he said that the disability day is celebrated annually to remind us that we are equal in the eyes of society, equal at work, at school and in terms of the opportunities that we are all entitled to, to commemorate the progress that has been made, and to pledge our commitment to do more.
Dr. Pierre expressed his gratitude for the tremendous activities and efforts of the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare on community based rehabilitation programmes and the commitment of the Ministry in promoting the rights and well-being of all people and children living with disability in Eritrea, which is closely linked with the theme of the year.
Dr. Pierre continued applauding on the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare for its active participation in rural areas, especially the community based donkey-for-school approach which has enabled children with disabilities to access education in rural and remote areas. He further acknowledged the Ministry’s effort, which was undertaken in 2015, to draft the comprehensive national policy for persons with disability, to review and finalize the policy document in order to submit it for endorsement by the government.
In his final remark Dr. Pierre expressed his appreciation to the Eritrean government for its endless effort to improve the lives of all people. He also added that since 1994 the United Nations in Eritrea has been a steady partner to the Government of the State of Eritrea in improving the lives of persons living with disability, the UN will continuously support the government’s efforts to ensure that all persons and children, particularly those with disability, reach their full potential in life.
Disability day was first launched by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3 in 1992. The aim of Disability day is to deepen our understanding of people affected by disability, and help to make people aware of the right, dignity and welfare of disabled people, as well as raise awareness about the benefits for persons with disability in economic, political, social, and cultural affairs. Likewise in Eritrea, to ensure the needs of disabled persons is one of Eritrean government effort to ensure social justice its people. Further the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare is still working in increasing awareness of people about disability and in creating a favorable ground for the disabled in the economic, political, cultural and social aspects of life. Disability day is commemorated internationally for the 26th times and nationally for the 22nd.
The day was commemorated with songs of different ethnicities. children with visual and hearing impairment as well as children with autism and Down syndrome sang heart touching songs and recited poems that reflect the day. While guests and students are dancing the happiness on everybody’s face was fabulous. After taking a minute of silence to remember Eritrean fallen heroes, the celebration ended with an exhibition prepared by students living with disability displaying artistic products such as paintings and handicrafts.