International Day of Persons with Disabilities: “Not all disabilities are visible”
The 3rd of December is marked as the ‘International Day of People with Disabilities’ and this year, the theme is ‘Not All Disabilities Are Visible’.
Poverty, a lack of services and appropriate infrastructure as well as stigma and a focus on survival have left people with disabilities at a real disadvantage in the West Bank, Gaza and the refugee camps of Lebanon and Jordan.
Many people in Gaza are recovering and rebuilding after having lost limbs or sustained long term injuries due to violence. In addition to this, ongoing stress and trauma have had a very real and underestimated impact on people’s mental health.
In the West Bank, the occupation has impacted mental health and access to services for those with disabilities. Mobile clinics are often used to provide vital medical services, and with the onset of the Coronavirus Pandemic, much of these systems have been disrupted.
For refugees in the camps in Lebanon, the situation is dire and having any form of a disability adds new layers of disadvantage and difficulty. Many people are unable to afford assistive devices or treatment and educations services need a lot of investment and support to provide for the diverse needs of people in the camps. Mental health issues continue to be overlooked or ignored as people are unable to access support or due to stigma. The camps are hazardous and mobility isn’t easy for many, impacting their health and independence.
Interpal has worked closely with people with disabilities and local NGOs and services to fund the most appropriate services and programmes for over 25 years. This year has been one of extreme hardship and change for many of our beneficiaries, and we understand that the impact on those with disabilities will need to be addressed. The closure of centres and services, the impact of lockdown on learning and mental health and well as worsening poverty will need to be considered with ensuring inclusivity in aid and charity.
On this day, we recognise that living with disabilities, visible and invisible needs to be de-stigmatised and that people with disabilities should be the one’s leading and voicing what they need. We are committed to investing in work that provides the right support and eases the difficulties facing Palestinian refugees with disabilities.
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