By Taban Henry
Persons living with disabilities in South Sudan are calling on partners to offer support and build resilience of persons with disabilities.
This came in a meeting organized by the South Sudan Union of Persons with Disabilities with the aim of building strong, inclusive and united union of organization of people with disabilities (OPDs) that advocates for the rights of persons with disabilities across South Sudan and facilitates their equal participation and effective influence in all social, economic and political decision making processes.
The meeting which is expected to take three days drew participants from the ten states and the three administrative areas of South Sudan.
Speaking during the opening session, the Chairperson of the South Sudan Union of Persons with Disabilities Agustino Wudu urged partners to build resilience of persons with disabilities so that they can be able to sustain their livelihood as the Country is witnessing the skyrocketing of marketing prices on daily basis.
“I am appealing to our partners who are with us here in this meeting that let us work together to empower persons with disabilities as we are aware that the work is going to face serious hunger particularly in Africa and we South Sudanese are in Africa” he said.
Wudu called upon persons with disabilities to work collectively to advocate for the rights and equal opportunities for the persons with disabilities in South Sudan.
“I urge you to use these three days to have a good result to lay a good and strong foundation for the persons with disability to meet the international standard to rise up and to take us ahead for full inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of lives so as they can work with freedom” he added.
Meanwhile Shuaib Chalklen, the executive Director for African Disability Forum stated that the extra-ordinary meeting for the South Sudan union of people with disability is important for the people of South Sudan because the general assembly consists of elections and people will decides on who the leaders of the organization would be.
“In the Africa Disability Forum, we have a general assembly every four years and that is in our constitution and in every four years Africa Disability Forum choses a leader for the Forum as a whole and each of the members that joins the African Disability Forum like now South Sudan are moving from the interim leadership to a more permanent leadership that includes all people living with disabilities in South Sudan,” he cited.
He hinted that the union should include all the persons with disability that includes the legitimacy of the people of South Sudan representing the true voice of the people of South Sudan.
For her part, Esther Ikere the undersecretary in the National Ministry of Gender Child and Social Welfare said the union is very important for them as the ministry because without the union it will be difficult for them to work directly with the persons with disabilities citing that the union represents the voices of all persons with disabilities.
She added that the union links the government, regional bodies and advocating for it to be linked with the international bodies adding that this makes work easy instead of working with different organizations.
“Our role as the ministry is to develop regulatory bodies for the organization for the persons with disabilities here. We really call for support from all partners who are here, let us work together to develop a regulatory body. This will protect our work and can regulate the operations of the union, it can also link the State unions to the main umbrella so we are working towards establishing State unions,” she said.
Ikere lauded the union for their tireless efforts saying that the ministry will continue to support the union to make sure that the union stands on its feet’s while mentioning that the union has to include all persons with different forms of disability in the union.