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UNHCR chief calls for equal protection for refugees with disabilities

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Filippo Grandi says people with disabilities can help make societies more open and inclusive.

GENEVA – People with disabilities forced to flee their homes face particular difficulties and we need to make sure they are protected and supported, Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said on Monday.

In a brief statement marking the UN International Day for Persons with Disabilities, he said: “We mark the achievements and contributions of more than one billion people with disabilities worldwide, and renew our commitment to promoting greater awareness and recognition of their diverse perspectives and capabilities, and mobilizing support for their rights.”

Those forced to flee their homes to escape conflict, violence and persecution faced huge challenges and were often marginalized and excluded, he said. “Displaced people with disabilities face particular risks and obstacles.”

He continued: “Measures are needed to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to protection and support, and are able to fully participate in community leadership structures and decision-making.”

People with disabilities help change societies for the better by making them more open and inclusive, celebrating and welcoming diversity, Grandi added.

“At UNHCR, we are fully committed to working to remove the physical and social barriers faced by refugees, displaced people and the communities in which they live and to building an environment in which diversity is embraced in all its forms, and that enables them to fully exercise their rights, and to pursue solutions that respond to their aspirations and needs.”