Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, May 31st, 2020

Disabilities and its Humanitarian Status in Afghanistan

Due to persisting war and abandoned improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan, the numbers of people with disabilities are dramatically increasing throughout the country. Though there is no clear and timely information to specify the exact number of disabilities in the country, the estimated figures as quoted from Ahmad Zia Langari, the commissioner of Afghanistan independent human rights commission, there are around 5 million disabled people, including severe and ordinary disabilities in the country. However, the latest Survey which jointly conducted by the Government of Afghanistan and Handicap International was in 2005 had found a general prevalence rate of 2.7% for severe disabilities and 4.7% with less severe disabilities equalized from 660,000 and 1.2 million persons with disabilities. It is said that about 12 thousand of these are pertained to national security forces. 
The disabilities are mainly categorized into physical, sensory and mental disabilities. While all of them have limitation to access basic services, and there are many barriers and obstacle for their accessibility in public places including schools, hospitals, libraries and mosques; the public building do not have ramps, suitable washrooms for person with disabilities. Therefore, they face more challenges than other person in order to continue their higher education, eventually they forcibly leave the education and cannot continue their higher education, and due to full of depression, dire economic circumstance they become despondent and they live with dismal, especially adolescent girls, they experience significant difficulties.
In the current unemployment environment, nearly 10% of people with disability (PwD) earn living through begging on the Road-side, streets, and in front mosques or markets which intensified the already congested city. While majority children with disabilities estimated 200,000, do not go to school. The National Disability Survey found that over 72% of persons with disabilities are over six years old that not received any education. Women and girls with disabilities are living in extremely difficult situations being discriminated both as females and as persons with disabilities e.g. legal and economic obstacles, exclusion and stigmatization.
It is estimated that 90% of PwD living in extreme poverty, joblessness and also lack professional skills to join public or private sector of the country. Therefore, a large number of people with disabilities do not access to job opportunities and basic humanitarian needs. It seems that our country is unable to address the problems and challenges of people with disabilities due to a lack of resources (financial and professionally trained staff), and adverse security challenges throughout the country.  If the International community can provide financial opportunities to PwD, they are capable to play a major role in social, cultural and also economic growth of the country.  Studies show that all people have the potential for self-sufficiency when given access to educational and economic opportunities and remove physical and social barriers.
In addition to the aforementioned challenges, they suffer from loss of identity and social status with sense of dislocation and isolation which put a huge psychological tension on older persons posing serious threat on their lives. According to World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than 600 Million Person with Disability worldwide, which means from 10 up to 15 percent of world population are disabled and they have suffered with multiple problems such as poverty, mental trauma and social isolation related issues. The disabilities are often marginalized to due to the physical fault imposed by social and political environment. They are also subject to extreme isolation and vulnerability in Afghanistan, especially in the remote insecure provinces of the country they are unable to access the basic health care, sufficient food items and facilities they need.
It seems that the National Authority for the Families of Martyrs and People with Disabilities and other related ministries are not in a position to provide adequate fiscal or employment support to mitigate the pain of poverty and disability from this part of our community. However, some efforts have been carried out but not enough. For example, out of 34 provinces 21 have physical rehabilitation services. Thus, international and national NGOs have taken part in providing services for people with disabilities. On the other hand, the contributing factors to disabilities such as landmines and explosive devices, have not removed from the country.  According to the Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan (MAPA), there are 4,681 minefields and 192 battlefield areas that threaten the lives and livelihoods of 1,655 Afghan communities in the country.
Legally and ethically, the people with disabilities must be supported by both government and society. Article 53 of national constitution of Afghanistan recognize the rights of people with disabilities and advise for taking necessary measures to promote their lives. Accordingly, Afghanistan has adapted the Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities which offers sufficient standards of protection for the civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights of persons with disabilities on the basis of inclusion, equality and non-discrimination. It makes clear that persons with disabilities are entitled to live independently in their communities, to make their own choices and to play an active role in society. Thus, the general spirit of national and international law indicate that all citizens have equal right to have access to education, health care services, public facilities and other services in order to meet their basic needs of lives.
Finally,  the Person with Disabilities are part of human community,  the humanitarian NGO and government of Afghanistan should make efforts to provide necessary services and program to strengthen and extend rehabilitation, assistive technology, assistance, community-based rehabilitation, and overall to include the person with disabilities and  respect for the inherent dignity, individual autonomy, including the freedom to make one’s own choices. In view of that independence of persons, non-discrimination, full and effective participation and inclusion in society, respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities are part of human diversity and humanity.