UNICEF: Inclusion of children with disabilities benefits society as a wholeListen /
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says far too many children and adolescents with disabilities still encounter various forms of discrimination and exclusion, denying them the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives and to contribute to the social, cultural and economic advancement of their communities.
In its annual State of the World's Children report, UNICEF says children with disabilities are the least likely to receive health care or go to school.
They are among the most vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, particularly if they are hidden or put in institutions.
The report says children with disabilities must not be viewed as mere beneficiaries of charity, but rather as children with equal rights including the right to life, good health care, nutrition, education, expression and protection under the law.
Abid Aslam, from UNICEF, says this year’s report challenges people to see the child before the disability.
"They have dreams. They have the drive to fulfill those dreams. And as we've shown in the report—given a fair chance, they contribute to the vitality of their families and their communities. This means making a serious commitment to finding the children with disabilities. Understanding their needs, including them in the design of solutions as well as the design of the evaluation of supports and services that are intended to give them a fair chance at surviving, thriving, succeeding.
UNICEF is urging more governments to ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to support families so that they can meet the higher costs of caring for children with disabilities.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.