The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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August 12, 2011

The Daily Star - Cabinet policies on disabled generating hope - August 12, 2011

By Van Meguerditchian

BEIRUT: Recent efforts by the new government to fulfill the rights of the country’s disabled community are being well-received by activists, as some continue to urge action on boosting the role of the National Council for the Affairs of the Disabled.
Activists and representatives of disabled Lebanese met Thursday at the Social Economic Council in Downtown Beirut to discuss the current situation of the community and the challenges to implementing laws related to the disabled.
Participants also debated ways to introduce legal amendments that would help solve pressing issues in the daily lives of the disabled in Lebanon.
Speaking with The Daily Star on the sidelines of the meeting, Jahda Abu Khalil, the director general of the National Association for the Rights of Disabled People in Lebanon, said it was vital to organize and broaden the prerogatives of the National Council for the Affairs of the Disabled to make it the highest authority in the country handling the affairs of the disabled.
“To strengthen the role of the council [NCAD], it must be headed by the government [at the office of the prime minister] and the minister of social affairs should be its deputy president,” said Abu Khalil.
More than 20 years after Lebanon’s Civil War, Abu Khalil said that there are likely more than 80,000 disabled people across the country.
“While there is no official census on the number of disabled in Lebanon, the number of disabled who have registered IDs for disability is 76,000,” Abu Khalil said, adding that there are many who have not yet applied for their IDs.
Last week, Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour said the IDs for the disabled were essential for assuring them free admission to hospitals in the country. Faour also warned private and public hospitals of failing to admit patients holding the disability identification.
Abu Faour’s announcement was an encouraging sign for the disabled community in the country, according to activists Thursday.
Nawaf Kabbara, a highly prominent activist in the Lebanese disabled community and the president of NARD, said that coordination at the Ministry of Social Affairs changed following Faour’s announcements.
“Clearly, I have to say that I have changed my speech today from what I had to say last month,” said Kabbara.
Representatives of the disabled community praised Abu Faour’s initiative in taking on the issue, which they say had been put off by government officials for too long. A comprehensive law on the disabled, Law 220, was passed more than 10 years ago, but has yet to be fully implemented.
Weeks after taking office, Abu Faour said that his ministry considered the law’s implementation one of its primary objectives.
During a news conference last week, Abu Faour announced how the law would be put into force, explaining that it would happen gradually through cooperation between the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Civil Service Council.
One of the major elements of the law is the requirement that job opportunities be provided to all people with disabilities in both the public and private sectors.

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