The UN in Cambodia welcomes the extensive policy framework put in place by the government to support the post-Covid-19 recovery and ensure that it is inclusive of persons with disabilities.

In a statement, it said that due to the pandemic, many persons with disabilities face inequalities that leave them more exposed. These inequalities, which are heightened for women and girls with disabilities, arise from multiple barriers such as stigma, inaccessibility of infrastructure, lack of transport and information and the lack of inclusive public policies and services.

“The United Nations system in Cambodia welcomes the extensive policy framework put in place by the Government to support a post-Covid recovery that is inclusive of persons with disabilities,” it said.

It said the forthcoming adoption of a new disability law which is expected in 2022 and that is expected to reflect the rights-based approach of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) will lay a solid foundation for future action.

According to the 2019 General Population Census, 4.9 per cent of Cambodians, equivalent to 689,532 people over the age of five, reported some difficulty in performing basic day-to-day functions.

“The UN supported the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation on the creation of the National Disability Identification System that will for the first time be able to identify all children and people with disabilities in the country to improve their access to social protections, social care and livelihood opportunities,” it said.

Through the system, it said more than 60,000 persons with disabilities were identified with the roll-out of the identification process to be completed nationally by year’s end.

Disability Action Council (DAC) secretary-general Em Chan Makara welcomed the statement and looked forward to cooperating with the UN in the best interests of all people with disabilities in Cambodia.

“I hope that this project will help improve the economic situation of people with disabilities which is especially bad now after being affected by Covid-19,” he said.

Yeap Malino, director of the ministry’s welfare department, said on September 6 that the government had worked closely with the UN in Cambodia, as well as other partner organisations, to make progress with improving the lives of disabled persons across the country.

“We know that disability is an intersecting issue with links to many others and that it requires the attention of all stakeholders in Cambodia,” he said.

According to Malino, of the 680,000 people with disabilities nationwide, more than 120,000 have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and vaccinations will continue for the rest of that population.

The UN said they encourage commitment and creativity from all stakeholders in order to ensure the rights and wellbeing of persons with disabilities and their access to services and supports.

“Most importantly, persons with disabilities must be at the centre of recovery planning. No one knows better the challenges and barriers that must be overcome to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, restore a sense of wellbeing and enjoy the same rights and access to services, supports, and opportunities on an equal basis with others,” the UN statement said.