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IFRC SECRETARY GENERAL, ELHADJ AS SY - Statement to the press - Inclusive Global Development Roundtable

Published: 26 July 2015

IFRC SECRETARY GENERAL, ELHADJ AS SY

Statement to the press

Inclusive Global Development Roundtable

12:30, 26 July 2015

I would like to thank Dr Timothy Schriver and the Special Olympics for convening this morning’s discussion. As we have heard, there are more than 1 billion people living with some form of disability today, equivalent to about 15 per cent of the world’s population.

These people are present in every community around the world. Many of them, especially those with intellectual disabilities, are faced with daily barriers that prevent them from participating in their communities, that stop them benefiting from opportunities or economic developments. Their limited access to education, employment or health services can set them on the road to poverty and disempowerment.

These barriers are often built on fear, ignorance, shame and stigma that can lead to exclusion and sometimes even abuse and cruelty.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent is also there, in nearly every community around the world through our network of 17 million volunteers and 189 National Societies. For more than 150 years we have been there, alongside communities, reaching out to the most vulnerable, accompanying them to meet their needs whatever those may be, supporting them to meet their potential.

We have recognized that there is more that we can and should do to support people living with disabilities, including those with intellectual disabilities. Through our partnership with the Special Olympics – one that I personally greatly value – we have started to expand our support.

In Jamaica, the IFRC and the Special Olympics, in collaboration with the Jamaican Red Cross and the Jamaican Association of Intellectual Disabilities, are working together to raise public awareness about intellectual disability, a small step towards making a meaningful change at the community level.

In Australia, the Australian Red Cross is employing people with intellectual disabilities, creating supportive work environments where each person can develop skills that can be transferred to an open employment environment. It is a simple programme that empowers people, gives them confidence, and a sense of belonging.

These are two very simple examples that we hope to build on. I am pleased that we are already seeing growing momentum in collaborations between National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Special Olympic National Chapters in 15 countries, from Mexico, to Austria to my own country, Senegal.

Later this year at our International Conference and General Assembly in Geneva, we will adopt a new strategic framework on disability inclusion. We will commit to addressing the needs of persons with disabilities and to continuing to remove barriers to their active participation. We will promote a movement of inclusion, to change mindsets, reduce stigma, and fostering greater respect for diversity

Our conversation this morning on inclusive global development was an important one. Like our partners here today, we are happy to see that the needs of people with disabilities, and the importance of meeting those needs, are clearly reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals.

We must turn those words into action. For the Red Cross and Red Crescent, our contribution to global development focuses at the local level, where our volunteers live and work every day to foster and strengthen community resilience.

We do this by reaching out to the most vulnerable, the most isolated, and the most in need. Resilient communities are communities that are inclusive and supportive for all. If we are to collectively deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals, we will have to walk the extra mile to reach the most vulnerable and the hardest to reach, including people with intellectual disability.

We will all be judged, and rightly so, on the difference we make in the lives of the people with greatest needs.

Thank you.

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The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest humanitarian organization, with 190 member National Societies. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, our work is guided by seven fundamental principles; humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. About this site & copyright