“People with disabilities possess distinctive abilities and our culture should be focused on promoting their abilities. In the years to come the abilities and potentialities of persons with disabilities should be applauded and commended,” President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani
On December 3, 2019, Afghan President H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani hosted an event for International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), marking the first time this celebration was held at the Presidential palace. Attended by more than 900 high-level officials from government, international organizations, and civil society, the event focused on empowering people with disabilities and encouraging their participation in all parts of society.
Decades of conflict in Afghanistan have left more than 900,000 civilians disabled, creating a critical need for services to support families both in the immediate aftermath of incidents and in the longer term as they work to recover. President Ghani urged the government to protect the rights of the disabled and ensure that services are accessible to those in need.
“It is up to both the government and private sector to redress the problems and needs of persons with disabilities,” President Ghani said. “We have to join our hands to support this important layer of our society.”
The Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled Affairs leads Afghan government coordination of victims’ assistance services. In advance of IDPD, the Ministry worked with the USAID-funded Conflict Mitigation Assistance for Civilians (COMAC) program to celebrate and encourage acceptance of people with disabilities, while also raising awareness of support available to help families affected by conflict.
A national outreach campaign included posters and materials featuring well-known disabled Afghans who have succeeded in various fields—focusing on the idea that disability is not inability. One poster includes Abbas Karimi, who despite being born without arms, became a member of the Afghan national swim team in 2012 and won his first Paralympic gold medal in 2013. Another featured Rubaba Mohammadi, who taught herself to paint and sketch using her mouth because she does not have sensation in her hands or feet. The campaign reached across 22 Afghan provinces and included billboards, posters, and brochures.
Outreach and engagement are just one aspect of COMAC’s broader work to strengthen delivery of victims’ assistance in Afghanistan. Immediate assistance, including provision of food and household supplies, is complemented by tailored support connecting victims to medical care, livelihood services, and economic reintegration for families whose income has been lost or limited by injury. Efforts are conducted in partnership with the Government of Afghanistan to simultaneously build capacity for sustained progress in service provision and strengthen the Government’s ability to meet victims’ needs.
Blumont delivers direct and indirect assistance, strengthens capacity of the Government of Afghanistan, and provided immediate and tailored assistance in all 34 provinces. Just over a year into implementation, approximately 40,000 Afghans have been assisted through COMAC interventions.