Strengthening Social Protection for Persons with Disabilities in Arab Countries

Organization(s): ESCWA
Author: Anton Bjork
Regions: Middle East and North Africa
Country: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
Year: 2017
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Persons with disabilities in the Arab region, as elsewhere in the world, are one of the most marginalized and excluded population groups. They are often not visible in public life, as the social and physical environments remain inaccessible, and they are disproportionally affected by crises and disasters. Reporting on the ongoing violent conflicts across the region is largely silent on the plight of persons
with disabilities, who are unable to run away from destruction, unaware of dangers facing them, or even left behind by their families. It is important to keep in mind that for each person killed, many more are severely injured or permanently disabled.

Arab countries are committed to improving the situation of persons with disabilities, as shown by the fact that most of them have signed, ratified or acceded to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). However, implementing legislation and realizing ambitions often proves challenging, and the exclusion of persons with disabilities is in part self-perpetuating. Inclusive social protection is critical in order to overcome these challenges. Importantly, though, social protection needs to be an integrated component of the larger development agenda. Moving from the charity model to a rights-based one will empower persons with disabilities in the Arab region. Better social protection can foster the shift from a “not able to work” approach to “social participation”.

This report focuses on social protection in the Arab region, taking its basis in the understanding of social protection as an integral part of the CRPD and the 2030 Agenda. The objective is to provide an overview of the social protection systems in several Arab countries, and to set these in relation to the specific situation and needs of persons with disabilities in light of the provisions of the CRPD and the Agenda 2030 with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It aims to enrich and expand the current discussion about ongoing reforms of social protection systems in several Arab countries.

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