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Pay delay frustrates disabled community

Pay delay frustrates disabled community

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A disabled man who earns a living as a beggar uses a hand-pedalled bicycle to get around Phnom Penh yesterday. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

More than one year after the government passed legislation to bring in a pension for people with disabilities living in poverty, a preliminary committee to workshop how to locate such disabled people has still not been formed, officials said yesterday.

“It is not yet effectively implemented,” Department of Welfare for Persons with Disabilities adviser Nhem Sareth told the Post yesterday.

“We still have to form a committee to identify and issue ID cards to those persons with disabilities,” he said, saying that the process to select officials to join the committee was 80 per cent complete.

In June last year, the government enacted a sub-decree to support “poor persons with disabilities”, which would entitle disabled persons living below the poverty line to between 10,000 and 20,000 riel [US$2.50 and $5] monthly stipends.

Sareth said the tardy implementation was because his department had been preoccupied with higher priority initiatives, such as an employment framework and policy for disabled people and drafting an interministerial circular on reasonable accommodation.

However, too much drafting and policy work, and not enough action was a source of disappointment among the disabled community, Cambodian Disabled People’s Organisation Executive Director Ngin Saorath said.

“It is a very small amount of money promised, but it is better than nothing, and a good step to show development … but we wish for the process to be quicker. Members are always asking about this,” Saorath said.

The vast majority of disabled people living in Cambodia were unemployed and relied solely on the charity of their families and NGOs to get by.

“And for those who are disabled by being blind, they can hardly ever get support because if you are blind or have low vision, society does not care for you,” Saorath said.

Disability statistics vary substantially Saorath said, with estimations ranging from eight to 15 per cent of the Cambodian population being affected.

He said that while the government had received praise for parliament deciding to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, this decision needed to be passed through the senate to the King, and back down to parliament, which would then send the decision to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon before ratification was complete.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at [email protected]

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