Diakonia - People change the world
Representatives from UN Agencies operating in Palestine during a seminar about mainstreaming disability rights in their policies and programs.

Ramallah: Mainstreaming disability in UN Agencies

Diakonia, along with the Norwegian Association of Disabled and the World Health Organization, recently held a seminar with the purpose of mainstreaming disability in UN Agencies operating in the Palestinian territory. The essence of the seminar received a strong endorsement from the UN Agencies present.


Disability in Palestine

In Palestine, the disability sector takes up a substantial part of the population, but is often overseen by laws and implementations. The prevalence rate of disability depends on whether one uses a narrow or wider definition; however, it ranges in Palestine from 2.7 percent (114,000 persons) to 7 percent (300,000 persons), according to a survey carried out by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in 2011.

As such, there is a need not only for Palestinian ministries to consider disabilities at a higher level; UN Agencies also play an important role in making sure that the rights of people with disabilites (PwD:s) are never ignored. At the seminar, Shatha Abu Srour and Bashar Naser, both living with disabilities, gave testimonials about how their lives are affected by the lack of access to services and their expectations that UN Agencies can lead by their support in changing the situation in Palestine.

The important role of UN Agencies

Chapal Khasnabis , a WHO technical expert on disability, held a presentation focused on the importance of human rights and development, as well as on using a Rights-Based Approach in national policies and programs. Moreover, he argued for the relevance of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to UN Agencies and to key development sectors: Education and Higher Education, Health, Labor, Social Affairs and local Government.

Furthermore, Khasnabis suggested severals steps needed for mainstreaming disability, including legal review of policies and procedures and review of access to services and information. He cemented that UN Agencies play an important role in making this a reality.

The National Disability Strategy

The Palestinian Disability Law was ratified in 1999, but practical implementation has stalled. National efforts to fully recognize disability rights have accelerated since 2011, with the activation of the Higher Council for Disability and the recent launching of the National Disability Strategy on mainstreaming disability. Diakonia has played a part in the process of making the strategy, and it is our hope that people with disabilities in Palestine will not only have the strategy to back them up, but also international support from UN Agencies.