Press Release

United Nations in Palestine marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities

03 December 2022

Today the United Nations Country Team in Palestine marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities to underline the importance of combatting stigma, discrimination, and barriers; both in the physical and virtual worlds.  Rights of persons with disabilities and their full and equal participation in all aspects of society must be secured.

According to the World Health Organization, over 1 billion people globally live with some form of disability many of whom do not have equal access to health care, education, and employment opportunities and even everyday activities such as sports and social events. Disability-related services are often limited.

In Palestine, the absence of a comprehensive package of services to children with disabilities is a major bottleneck in achieving the national priorities identified to improve their lives. They face higher risks of discrimination, exclusion and lack access to services. Although 68.4 percent of schools have adapted infrastructure and materials for students with disabilities, among school aged children, 22 percent of boys and 30 percent of girls with a disability have never enrolled in school.

Women and girls with disabilities are often subject to higher risk ok physical, psychological, and emotional abuse. Compounding these challenges is the need for people with disabilities to navigate the arbitrary restrictions of the Israeli occupation on the movement of people and goods, which obstruct access to assistive devices, health care and psychosocial support.

In ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2014, Palestine committed to promote and protect the human rights of all persons with disabilities, uphold their right to work, to vote, to an education and to development. Putting these rights into practice needs sustained political commitment, inclusive national legislation and policies and adequate social protection services. We also need to promote the active participation of persons with disabilities in their full diversity in decision-making-processes.

Despite the challenges, people with disabilities in Palestine are trying every day to make a change. Zeina, 14 years old from East Jerusalem, is one of them: she is part of the first basketball team for children with a disability. Eleven young girls and boys meet regularly to train with a specialized coach and compete against other teams in Palestine. Zeina is a passionate youth advocate; playing basketball - she said - has improved her physical and mental wellbeing.

Today, and every day, the UNCT in Palestine reaffirms its commitment to advancing the rights of persons with disabilities to live with dignity, equity, and autonomy. We will continue to engage with persons with disabilities to ensure their needs are reflected in our programmes; to improve accessibility of our facilities and workspaces; and to raise awareness on the importance of disability inclusion.

UN entities involved in this initiative

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Children’s Fund

Goals we are supporting through this initiative