UN Secretary-General, António Guterres on Friday said COVID-19 had laid bare the persistent barriers and inequalities faced by the world’s one billion persons with disabilities.

Guterres, in his message to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, said people with disability were among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

He argued that a disability-inclusive pandemic response and recovery should be guided by persons with disabilities themselves.

It should also “forge partnerships, tackle injustice and discrimination, expand access to technology and strengthen institutions to create a more inclusive, accessible, and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.”

According to the UN, about 80 per cent of persons with disabilities live in developing countries and an estimated 46 per cent of people aged 60 years and over, have disabilities.

One in every five women is likely to experience disability in her life, while for children, that figure is one in 10.

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To respond to the needs of these people, the secretary-general urged all countries to fully implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Governments, he said, should also work to increase accessibility, and dismantle legal, social, economic and other barriers with the active involvement of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations.

“Realising the rights, agency, and leadership of persons with disabilities will advance our common future.

“We need everyone, including persons with disabilities on board, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Guterres said that, around the world, persons with disabilities and their representative organisations are taking action to make good on a key demand: “Nothing about us, without us.”  (NAN)