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10.12.2005 Regional News

Persons with disability challenge government to translate commitment into practice.

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Jirapa, (U/W) Dec 10, GNA- Persons with disabilities in the Upper West region on Friday observed this year's International Day for the Disabled with a forum at Jirapa in the Jirapa/ Lambussie district and challenged the government to translate its avowed commitment to the welfare and interests of disabled persons into practice. In this regard, they called on the government to pass the proposed Disability Bill into law without further delay. They also asked the government to take steps that would help remove the many obstacles that prevent disabled persons from exercising their rights and freedom as well as participating in all spheres of national endeavour without discrimination and marginalisation.

The call was made by Mr Emmanuel Atagongo, programe manager of action on disability and Development, an NGO and by Mr. Ibrahim Saani, chairman of the Wa Resource Centre for persons with disabilities when they addressed the forum. The United Nations General Assembly in 1992 designated the third day of December every year as the International Day for the Disabled, aimed at achieving the full and equal enjoyment of human rights and participation in all spheres of human endeavour by disabled people.

Me Atagongo said his organization supports civil society grouping of disabled people to give them a voice and to campaign for inclusion and for an end to marginalisation. He appealed to organizations of persons with disabilities to consider working with other different impairments or disability groups such as people with mental illness, with learning difficulties and epilepsy so as to have a strong voice so that their campaign for inclusion will be holistic.

On his part, Mr Saani called on the government as a signatory to the United Nations convention on the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities to implement the standard rules of the convention to the letter to make persons with disabilities live a better life.

In a speech read for him by Wing Commander (rtd) Eric Dakurah, Nadowli District Chief Executive, the Regional Minister, Mr Ambrose Dery assured the people with disabilities in the region that special assistance packages, including credit schemes from relevant agencies and the district assemblies would be sought for them should they organize themselves into viable groups. He also called on traditional and opinion leaders to strive to make the achievement of the rights of the disabled a reality in society.

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