Children with disabilities have the same rights as all children and deserve the same chance to make the most of their lives, the Executive Director of the United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) has emphasized.
Anthony Lake called on the global development community to include children and young people living with disabilities in the development process of their respective countries.
He was speaking, over the weekend, during an event to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
“We need to break down the barriers that prevent full participation of children with disabilities – from programmes that ignore their needs, to prejudice that discounts their ability to contribute,” he said.
Lake stated that children with disabilities were among the most marginalized and excluded groups of children compared to their peers; stating that they are routinely denied access to health, education and social services.
“The situation of children with disabilities is improving, but there are still extraordinary gaps, especially in places where poverty and inequality are more prominent”.
He pointed out that such children are often excluded from opportunities to participate in their communities, and are more vulnerable to violence and abuse.
The Unicef chief said that girls with disabilities faced additional discrimination because of their sex, observing that they are often at greater risk of violence, injury, abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment and exploitation.
Speaking to The New Times yesterday, Zaina Nyiramatama, the Executive Secretary for the National Commission for Children (NCC), emphasized that children with disabilities shouldn’t be left out in the development process.
“Rwanda is engaging vulnerable children in all activities geared towards the development of the country. No children living with disability is denied his or her rights,” she added.