The Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission says it is vital for everyone to work collectively in ensuring that persons with disabilities and homeless persons are not left behind and they must be afforded dignity without discrimination.
Director Ashwin Raj says as the cases in relation to the pandemic increase and so does our response and containment measures, specific steps must be taken to ensure that they have equal access to food, water, health care services, shelter, sanitation, information and the support they need to stay safe.
Raj is also urging law enforcement agencies to ensure that persons with disabilities and their caregivers are treated with dignity and compassion if they are seen not following certain COVID safety protocols.
He is calling on authorities including law enforcement agencies to take knowledge of the underlying vulnerabilities of persons with disabilities and those living on our streets as this pandemic disproportionately impacts them.
Raj says for instance, it is almost impossible for persons with disabilities to practice physical distancing given that they require additional support from their caregivers.
He further says some persons with disabilities may not be able to wear face masks due to a disability or medical condition adding it would be also difficult for such vulnerable groups to practice self-isolation.
Raj says law enforcement agencies should not handcuff persons with disabilities in any circumstances as it would obstruct their ability to communicate. The Commission is also requesting the caregivers of persons with disabilities to ensure that those in their care have access to emergency telephone numbers.
Raj also says it is critical that children with disabilities must be equally cared for and encouraged to stay safe by staying indoors.
If you wish to assist persons with disabilities particularly the elderly and children you can contact the Commission on 9142539 and the donations will be given to Fiji Disabled People's Federation for distribution.
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