Beirut, 7 March 2019 (ESCWA)--The global awareness campaign for the good treatment of girls, boys, and adolescents with disabilities today was launched in the Arab region at the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) headquarters in collaboration with the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the Embassy of Chile in Lebanon, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR),
The Arab region launch is part of a series of regional launches of a global campaign that aims to increase awareness for the good treatment of boys, girls and adolescents with disabilities around the world, who are more likely to suffer physical or psychological violence and sexual abuse than other children, as explained in a study by UNICEF.
The campaign was launched by the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Disability and Accessibility, Ms. María Soledad Cisternas Reyes and is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and in connection with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Ms. Cisternas Reyes introduced the 10 principles for the protection of children with disability, presented in a booklet which can be found here below.
“Girls, boys and adolescents with disabilities should always be well treated, like their peers, and protected from all forms of violence and abuse. Good treatment will produce positive effects on their physical, mental and social development,” Ms. Cisternas Reyes emphasized.
“Arab countries are making great efforts to improve the lives of persons with disabilities but more is needed to make education and labor markets inclusive, and overcome stigma and other barriers preventing their full inclusion in society” stated the Executive Secretary of ESCWA, Ms. Rola Dashti in her opening speech.
On behalf of the Lebanese Government, the Minister of Social Affairs Mr. Richard Kouyoumjian emphasized the great potential of children with disabilities to contribute to diversity in society. He stressed the need to focus on abilities of children and not their disabilities, as well as to work on improving their protection, rehabilitation, and integration in society.
The event was supported by the Embassy of Chile in Lebanon, represented by Ambassador Marta Chalhub, who added that children and youth with disabilities must be provided with an inclusive and high quality education to better prepare them for the lives ahead of them.
The master of ceremony was the professional athlete and UNDP Climate Change Champion, Mr. Michael Haddad, who overcame the paralysis of more than 75% of his body to become a professional athlete and holder of three world records in walking and climbing. “There is no such thing as disabled or non-disabled. There is who we are as people, as identities, as world leaders,” he said as he shared his experiences with the audience.
The event followed with video presentations and the sharing of experiences and practices as well as a sideline art exhibition on the theme prepared by local associations that empower children and youth with disabilities.
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