Disabled see no change in their lives
The disabled want work opportunities, vocational training, and a higher monthly salary from the government, saying 650 afghanis a month could not solve their problems. The disabled currently receive a benefit of 400 afghanis (about $8.50) a month from the government.
Currently about 2.7 percent of Afghans are disabled, and this stratum of society is urging the government to find a way for them to be self-sufficient and independent.
Skandar, a resident of the Kart-i-Naw area of Kabul, who lost both legs from the knee said: "We have given our blood for the country's liberty, we are the victims of the war, but the government pays no attention to us though we are in a miserable condition.”
His monthly government payments are not adequate for him, he said, and are barely enough for a kid’s biscuit. He has therefore opened a boutique and to earn money. He remains homeless and urged the government to provide a group home for the disabled.
He has a wife, two sons, and one daughter, and also supports his 17-year-old brother and his blind aunt.
Skandar passes travels 100 metres to his shop every morning in a used wheelchair that is difficult to move. He wants an automatic wheelchair.
He said the monthly rent for his shop is 5000 afghanis (about $106) and he does not earn much money. He urged the government to stop making empty promises.
Amena Azimi, who lost her foot in a rocket strike during the civil war in the 1990s, said her financial condition, too, is unstable. She works with an international organization for the disabled in Kabul, and her monthly salary of about 12,000 afghanis ($250) does not meet her family’s requirements.
She said: "The main problem for the disabled society’s unawareness of their capacity." She said there is no culture of assistance and sympathy for the disabled and that the Ministry of Social Affairs has not improved the situation.
She hopes that the provisions in the Convention on the Rights of Disabled Personswill be enforced rather than remain on paper alone.
The Wolesi Jirga unanimously approved Afghanistan’s membership in the three-part UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons. The convention has 50 articles and one 18-article additional protocol.
Sayed Hussain Balkhi, the head of an advocacy organization for the disabled, said Afghanistan’s membership in the convention was very important and will encourage the international community to help solve the problems of disabled people.
The convention’s mission is to promote, support, and guarantee the rights of the disabled.
Mohammad Ehsan Fayaz, head of an Afghan advocacy organization for the blind, says there has been no change in the condition of the disabled since Afghanistan joined the convention. He said the problems of the disabled remain the same.
He said his association was not registered with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and the Ministry always insists they devote most of their work on victims of war. But he said that 1,400 blind people have been registered with the association in seven provinces, and they face many problems.
Fayaz said some of the blind needed to go to foreign countries for treatment, but there was no ministry or any other agency responsible for their problems.
President Hamid Karzai said on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in December: "Many of our countrymen have been disabled for defending independence and national honor, some of them in the imposed war.
The disabled have the right to use all opportunities, and no one should experience discrimination."
Meanwhile the disabled complain of homelessness and unemployment and say the government has done nothing for them over the past decade.
But Suraya Paikan, deputy minister of Labor and Social Work, insisted that the Convention of Rights of Disabled Persons will benefit the disabled.
She said that the ministries who are working for the disabled are obligated to report their activities every six months to the Deputy Directorate of Martyrs and the Disabled in the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.
She added that the Deputy Directorate of martyrs and the disabled is also obligated to report its annual activity to the Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons.
She added that not only the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, but all the ministries, especially the Ministries of Education, Health, and Higher Education, as well as members of the cabinet, have a responsibility to work for the disabled.
Currently, besides executive institutions, some international organizations and the Independent Human Rights Commission are also working to provide education and job opportunities for the disabled.
Mohammad Ali Mujtaba, national programmes coordinator for the disabled in the Independent Human Rights Commission, said that according to the commission’s statistics there are 196,000 disabled children in Afghanistan, most of whom have access to schools.
He also said that the current problem of the disabled is unemployment.
He added that the monthly disabled benefit will rise from 400 afghanis to 1500 or 2000 afghanis about ($31.75 or $42.35).
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