International Disability Day: PWDs demand Unit at State House

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December 4, 2018

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

disablity
Executive members of the disability community

President of Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues (SLUDI), Santigie Kargbo, has called on President Julius Maada Bio to lead by example in the area of inclusion and equality by implementing the Persons with Disability Act of 2011 and establishing a disability unit in the Office of the President at State House.

Kargbo made the above call yesterday during a press conference hosted at the conference hall of Grassroots Gender Empowerment Movement (GGEM) at John Street in Freetown to mark the commemoration of International Disability Day.

He said SLUDI, in collaboration with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), Handicap International and other partners commemorated the day to raise awareness on rights of persons with disabilities.

The SLUDI president disclosed that the theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Empowering Persons with Disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and Equality’ – making PWDs count in Sierra Leone through inclusive governance.

Kargbo said the commemoration was aimed at amplifying voices of the disability community in Sierra Leone for additional and concrete commitments and actions from stakeholders, with a focus on increased participation and inclusion in the electoral process and political participation.

He charged that they were yet to see concrete actions for PWDs in the agenda of current administration of President Julius Maada Bio, despite several calls.

“We are therefore using the day to remind government and the people of Sierra Leone that the present situation of PWDs in the country is appalling and frustrating. PWDs are mostly associated with destitution, abject poverty, begging, among several other derogatory status,” he stated.

He revealed that as part of this year’s commemoration, SLUDI in collaboration with Handicap International and the Westminister Foundation for Democracy, would organise series of programmes in all regional headquarter towns across Sierra Leone.

On his part, Lawyer Julius Nye Cuffie said the day is commemorated every year with various activities to raise awareness on the rights of people with disabilities.

Executive Secretary at the Disability Commission, Saa Lamin Kortequue, observed that over the years persons with disabilities have been marginalised, and urged the public to eschew intimidating and regarding the disabled as not useful in society.

Meanwhile, Director of Social Welfare at the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs, Francis Kabia, pledged the continued commitment of government to uplift the lives of people with disabilities.