Mogadishu, 11 September 2014 – People with Disabilities in Mogadishu have today made an appeal to fellow citizens in Somalia to bring to an end all acts of conflict, as they sought to highlight their plight.According to the Somali Disability Empowerment Network (SODEN), there are an estimated 30,000 people living with disability (PWD) in Mogadishu.
A section of the people living with disability participated in a dialogue in which they discussed the challenges they have endured during the many years of war in Somalia and the importance of peace in their lives.The major challenges faced that emerged from the day’s discussions include high levels of illiteracy, lack of basic skills, extreme poverty and stigmatization by society, among others.Discussants called for an end to civil war, which they identified as a major cause of disability through bullet wounds and improvised explosive devices, among other tools of war.Mohamed Ali Farah, the Director General of the Somali Disability Empowerment Network, noted that PWD were among the most at risk in any situation of conflict given the physical limitations they face.“People with Disabilities are vulnerable people about peace. PWDs are stigmatized in this country. PWDs are discriminated all over the country and PWDs mostly can’t live without peace, because they can’t run when the explosions happen, they can’t run when the rockets sound; they can’t run, they can’t do anything like others,” he said.
Basiiro Abdi Mohamed, who is visually impaired, expressed her joy at being part of such an important event, particularly encouraging unity among people living with disability.
“I am very excited to see that people with disabilities can come together to celebrate peace. This makes me happy. It also encourages me and I feel that people with disabilities are not just disabled but can do something on their own to empower them,” she said.
Today’s dialogue by people living with disabilities is part of the wider campaign to emphasize the role of all parts of society in the pursuit of peace in the build-up to the International Day of Peace on 21 September; the campaign is driven by Somali civil society with the support of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).