The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was commemorated worldwide on 3rd December 2016. In Mashhad in northeast Iran, the occasion was marked through the launch of the newly created ‘Afghan Committee for People with Disabilities’ in close cooperation with local charities, the State Welfare Organization, UNHCR Iran, and its government counterpart the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants’ Affairs (BAFIA).
The new Committee is a BAFIA and UNHCR initiative to enhance community-based activities and to unite the various groups and organisations which are actively providing services for refugees living with disabilities in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The key objective of integrating the different associations into one committee is to better enable refugees with disabilities to take control of their lives, and to develop their personal skills and capacities within the wider society.
As part of the inauguration programme the Head of the Committee for People with Disabilities, Mr. Jafari, explained that the committee selected the theme of ‘live together’ for this year’s event as a means to advocate for refugees’ rights and to enhance social integration of persons with disabilities within their communities. Speeches were also given by representatives from the Afghan Consulate, the Director General of BAFIA Khorasan Razavi, and the Head of UNHCR Sub-Office Mashhad.
The importance of creating an inclusive society which benefits from the capabilities of refugees with disabilities as dynamic members of their communities was highlighted, as well as the expansion of UNHCR’s community-based activities which has led to the realisation of this project with the Afghan Committee for People with Disabilities.
The commemorative event was concluded by the presentation of certificates and appreciation letters to some of the most active refugees with disabilities and to those actors providing exceptional services. An exhibition of refugees’ handicrafts and information stalls showcasing the services provided to refugees with disabilities was also toured by the participants and the general public attending the programme.