Somalilandsun -The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) convened a Victim Assistance and Disability Working Group in Mogadishu, Somalia on Thursday in the first ever needs assessment meeting to map out a plan on possible support to the people living with disabilities.
Since 2009, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) together with various donors and partners have supported the Federal Government of Somalia towards establishing a safe and secure environment for the people, free of landmines and other Explosive Remnants of War (ERW).
UNMAS has so far reached out to 290,906 men, women, and children with mine and ERW awareness messages in south-central Somalia, conducted 23,132 searches, and safely removed 7,843 items of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO).
The working group brought together representatives from the Somali Federal Government, the United Nations, the National Disability Council and the Somali Union for the Blind. The aim of the working group was to analyze the current situation in the context of Somalia, achievements of the partners, and map out a way forward for handling issues concerning the victims.
“People are neglecting disabled people, its like they are not part of the society yet they represent 25 percent of the Somali society that’s a huge number. But they are not just numbers, they are faces, they are people, they have names, they live but what they need is assistance to be part of the society, part of the wider society that’s why we were here today,” said Aweis Sh. Haddad.
Some of the recommendations made included strengthening national mechanisms and provision of an integrated and effective support to mine/ERW victims and Persons with Disabilities (PWD) in general through coordination and development of a national strategy and workplan.
“This meeting was a very important meeting it was a victims assistance and disability working group, it was a chance to put the voice of the people and those people who are affected by the mine to come together and make some kind of forum, to make there voice one in order to advocate and mobilize and discuss there needs,” stated Abdikar Hussein Bashir
Provision of technical support for socio-economic reintegration of landmine/ERW victims and PWD was also recommended by the group. Participants also underscored the need for advocacy in order to better understand challenges of PWDs and reduce stigma towards them.
Somalia, like many countries recovering from years of war, is home to a large segment of the population disabled by explosives.