Equal World campaign hands COVID-19 disability rights petition to UN

July 2020
A man wearing a mask hands masks to two other men.

Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign has handed in a 25,276-signature petition to the United Nations and its member states, calling for the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic to be inclusive of disability rights.

The hand-in was conducted via a letter sent to the UN Secretary-General’s office, with copies being sent to the permanent missions of UN member countries who have signed or ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It was accompanied by a video featuring Sightsavers’ staff members from around the world, calling on the UN and member countries to take urgent action to uphold the rights of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The petition, which launched in May, gathered signatures from around the world. It was created in response to the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on people with disabilities worldwide.

In many countries, information about health advice and public restrictions has not been made available in accessible formats like braille or sign language, and many people with disabilities have faced challenges in accessing their required levels of personal care because of social distancing and lockdown measures. Others have been unable to access food supplies, health services and home-based education support, undermining their human rights.

Tessa Murphy, Sightsavers’ campaign manager, said: “Now more than ever, governments must ensure that they prioritise the protection of the rights of the people with disabilities within society who are most at risk of suffering devastating losses in the face of the pandemic. On behalf of the tens of thousands of people who have signed the petition, we urge the UN and all member states to urgently address this situation to ensure that the lives, health and wellbeing of people with disabilities are pivotal to their response and recovery efforts.”

More about the petition

Portrait photo of a young woman who uses a wheelcahair.

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