June 23, 2016 By Memunatu Bangura
Liaison officer on disability issues in the Office of the Vice President, who also doubles as Southern Region Commissioner for National Commission for Persons with Disability (NCPD), has recommended that government should create a separate ministry on disability issues.
Speaking to Concord Times, Commissioner Vandy Konneh said frequent fracas in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs was unfortunate and that misbehaviour by highly placed personalities, including previous and current ministers, was a disappointment to the entire disable family.
“I will not deepen into their dispute but the fact remains disability issues are being neglected by the Ministry of Social Welfare and the disable community is a critical constituency in the country,” he said.
Commissioner Vandy opined that it was long overdue for the disabled community to enjoy some amount of independence, citing the Youth Affairs Ministry, which he said used to be under the supervision of the Ministry of Social Welfare.
According to him, the ministry was overwhelmed with issues of women, children, the aged and hajj pilgrimage, noting that disability issues are not given priority at the ministry, while the commission established to deal with disability issues is grossed under-funded.
He noted that it would be prudent for government to address disability issues separately as well as collaborate with disability organisations and commission.
He claimed that the Social Welfare Ministry does not keep files on disability issues as the ministry lacks a unit that specifically concentrates on disability issues.
The disable commissioner reiterated that disability issues were being treated with absolute neglect in the country and that the streets of Freetown are full of disable people who beg to eke a living.
He disclosed that the Ministry of Social Welfare was yet to face Parliament to give an update on the operations of the disability commission, adding that for the past three years the commission itself has failed to meet Parliament.