|PCHR Organizes Workshop on "The Rights of Disabled Persons in the Gaza Strip … Reality and Challenges"|
|Written by PCHR|
|Tuesday, 22 May 2012 00:00|
On Tuesday, 22 May 2012, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights' (PCHR) Economic and Social Rights Unit organized, in cooperation with the National Center for Community Rehabilitation (NCCR), a workshop on "The Rights of Disabled Persons in the Gaza Strip … Reality and Challenges" in al-Mathaf Hotel in Gaza City. A large number of disabled persons from the Gaza Strip and their families, representatives of governmental institutions, representatives of civil society organizations and media professionals participated in the event. Azzam Shaath, a researcher at PCHR's Economic and Social Rights Unit, welcomed the participants and noted that this workshop was organized as part of cooperation and coordination between PCHR and NCCR and as part of efforts exerted to enhance the rights of disabled persons in the Gaza Strip.
Mr. Khalil Shahin, Director of PCHR's Economic and Social Rights Unit, made a presentation on "The Rights of Disabled Persons from a Human Rights Perspective." In his presentation, Shahin pointed out that this workshop is part of efforts exerted by PCHR to follow up various issues affecting the life of disabled persons in the Gaza Strip, especially the non-application of the Palestinian Disabled Law No. 4 of 1999 although it was enacted more than 13 years ago. Shahin added that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for the lack of necessary mechanisms and procedures to enforce the rights of disabled persons. He called upon the Ministry of Social Affairs, in its capacity as the competent ministry, to make all possible efforts to issue the disabled card which specifies basic services that disabled persons are entitled to receive, including health, educational, rehabilitation, employment and social insurance services.
Fatima al-Ghussein, Director of NCCR’s “Combating Discrimination and Human Rights Abuse against Women and Children with Disabilities" Program, made a presentation on "The Situation of the Rights of Disabled Persons in the Gaza Strip." She presented information about the numbers of disabled persons in the occupied Palestinian territory. She also talked about the impact of the ongoing closure imposed by the Israeli forces on the Gaza Strip and the ongoing electricity outages on the level of services provided to disabled persons in the Gaza Strip. Al-Ghussein noted that the ongoing political split has resulted in the reduction of service programs implemented by the Palestinian Authority targeting disabled persons.
Rami al-Natil, Director of the Disabled Persons Department at the Ministry of Social Affairs in Gaza, made a presentation on "Evaluation of the Role of the Executive Authority in the Enforcement of the Rights of Disabled Persons." He talked about the services provided by the Ministry to persons with disabilities, including a program to provide training to a team, in cooperation with the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, to implement a comprehensive survey of persons with disabilities in the Gaza Strip. He also noted that the Ministry provides financial aid to 26,000 persons with disabilities in addition to many other social services aimed at providing protection to these persons and to their families. Al-Natil noted that the Ministry coordinates with other ministries to provide medical services to disabled persons at reduced costs and grant disabled persons exemption of customs.
Ayman al-Halabi, Director of the Physiotherapy Department of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, made a presentation on "The Role of the Ministry of Health in the Provision of Health Services to Persons with Disabilities." He noted that health services provided by the Ministry of Health to the Disabled include free medical treatment services, provision of medicines to the disabled and health insurance services. Al-Halabi pointed out that his Ministry is seeking to apply the article in the Palestinian Disabled Law which requires that 5% of employees in the Ministry must be from disabled persons.
Persons with disabilities and their families participating in the workshop expressed extreme resentment because they have been marginalized although the Palestinian Disabled Law and its Executive Bill were issued 13 years ago. They talked about the disastrous deterioration at the level of their enjoyment of their rights which are ensured under the Palestinian Disabled Law, especially in the areas of health services, rehabilitation and employment, educational services and social allocations which are aimed at protecting these persons against poverty. At the end of the workshop, participants presented a number of recommendations as follows:
· They called for the expansion of the disability definition in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, when conducting any comprehensive surveys of disabilities in the Palestinian society to provide accurate statistics and establish a database on the situation and characteristics of disabilities in the Palestinian society.
· They called upon the Palestinian Authority to immediately enforce the Palestinian Disabled Law No. 4 of 1999.
· They called upon the Ministry of Social Affairs to immediately issue the disabled card which is prescribed under the Palestinian Disabled Law.
· They called upon the Ministry of Social Affairs, in its capacity as the competent ministry, to pay the allocations for disabled persons and their families regularly and with no delay that violates the right of the disabled to a descent life.
· They called for the development of an enforcement mechanism that ensures the immediate enforcement of the disabled persons' right to employment. The law requires that at least 5% of employees in government, private ad civil society institutions must be from disabled persons.
· They called upon the Ministry of Health to stop requiring the disabled and their families to pay for health services they receive, including medicines and medical reports fees. The law requires the provision of free health services to disabled persons and their families. The participants further called upon the Ministry of Health to install signs in government health service facilities noting that healthcare services are provided free of charge to persons with disabilities and to their families.
· They called upon the Ministry of Social Affairs to employ persons who can use the sign language in government facilities.
· They called for increasing the level of coordination between the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Local Government in order to exert more efforts in order to adjust public locations to the needs of the disabled.
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