Initiative To Support Persons With Disabilities In Lebanon
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) are jointly launching a new initiative to support persons with disabilities and reduce their exposure to increasing vulnerabilities due to Lebanon’s manifold crises – the dwindling economy, the COVID 19 pandemic and most recently the Beirut Port explosion.
The initiative will:
Cater for the immediate needs required to maintain the health and wellbeing of persons with disabilities, who have been among the hardest hit by Lebanon’s crises.
Mobilize a wide partnership to ensure that areas affected by the Beirut Port explosion are reconstructed in a manner that improves physical accessibility for persons with disabilities to public institution, streets, and private facilities.
Advocate for policies and measures to guarantee persons with disabilities access to quality care facilities and the most essential assistive devices, and their inclusion in social and economic activity without barriers.
The launch of the initiative is set for Wednesday, 14 October 2020 at the UN house (ESCWA HQ) in Beirut, where it will feature the signing of a statement of commitment to the objectives of the initiative by involved partners, including the Lebanese Federation of Engineers and Architects, civil society organizations, diplomatic missions to Lebanon and UN agencies.
Persons with disabilities in Lebanon represent between 10 and 15% of the total population of 7 million, totaling approximately to around 910,000.
As in many parts of the world, people with disabilities in Lebanon are among the most excluded and marginalized population groups. They contend with a systemic lack of provisions for rights, resources, and services and experience widespread marginalization, exclusion and violence at home and outside. This applies to all areas of their lives including access to quality care facilities.
The unabating COVID-19 outbreak currently afflicting Lebanon and the measures that were necessary to contain it have resulted in increasing economic hardship including on the affordability and accessibility to healthcare services.
The main advocacy objective will focus on the 8000 buildings and streets damaged in the close vicinity of the Beirut Port explosion. With support from the Order of Engineers, private engineering companies and volunteers, the initiative will offer free consultations, studies and designs to ensure that all facilities requiring rehabilitation/reconstruction are rendered physically accessible to persons with disabilities, prioritizing public buildings and streets and encouraging private buildings’ owners to join.
Beirut Walk for Inclusion
To raise awareness on the initiative and kick-off an effort to mobilize resources for it, UNDP Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Climate Action Michael Haddad will embark on a 4 Kilometres walk from the UN House in Beirut (ESCWA headquarters) to the Karantina Primary Healthcare Center.
An endurance athlete who is paralyzed from the chest down, Haddad has devised his own unique “step-to-gait” method of movement, using a high-tech exoskeleton to stabilize his chest and legs. Beirut Walk for Inclusion is the first in a series of walks that he is planning under his “Stepping Ahead of COVID” initiative that aims to raise awareness and mobilize resources to help mitigate the adverse impacts of the pandemic on the most vulnerable, especially persons with disabilities and to advocate for inclusive and green post-pandemic recovery.
Source: UNDP Lebanon