“In 2019, the Federal Government of Somalia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – this was a historic moment for Somalis with disabilities and their families, and one that demonstrated their country’s commitment to promoting, protecting and ensuring the full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities,” said the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Somalia, Anita Kiki Gbeho.
“For a truly inclusive society, physical and communication barriers must be removed and with draft legislation on disability rights, as well as the establishment of the National Disability Agency, Somalia has signalled its commitment to make this happen. The United Nations encourages Somalia to continue efforts to mainstream disability inclusion into the country’s development and stands ready to support,” added Ms. Gbeho, who also serves currently as the Officer-in-Charge of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).
The UN in Somalia’s work in this area includes ongoing consultations with persons with disabilities and their representative organisations, in partnership with the National Disability Agency (NDA), which was launched in 2021 as part of the Government’s legislative response to the ratification of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Access to statistical data on disabilities in Somalia is limited, which makes gauging the overall situation challenging. Better data is essential for mainstreaming disability into development so that it is inclusive and accessible. The UN is currently supporting the NDA in designing a survey to reach Somalis with disabilities – the first of its kind in Somalia.
Around the world, persons with disabilities have generally poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. This is largely due to the lack of services available to them and the many obstacles they face in their everyday lives. Evidence and experience shows that when barriers to their inclusion are removed and persons with disabilities are empowered to participate fully in societal life, their entire community benefits.
The theme for IDPD this year is ‘Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world.’
Observed annually on 3 December, the UN General Assembly established IDPD in 1992. The Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.