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Globally children with disabilities are losing out, says UNICEF

2013-05-29

New State of the World’s Children report calls for end of harmful exclusion

TORONTO, Thursday May 30, 2013 – The world is failing to reach children with disabilities who are too often invisible and more likely to be poor, experience violence and be out of school UNICEF revealed in its 2013 The State of the World’s Children report titled Children with Disabilities released today.

“It is unacceptable that in many countries around the world children with disabilities face institutionalization, abandonment or neglect,” says UNICEF Canada’s President and CEO David Morley. “Children with disabilities must have the same opportunities as all other children.”

One of the main obstacles facing children with disabilities is they are often invisible as the number of children living with disabilities globally is unknown. This is a critical gap that must be filled to better understand what types of services children require and to ensure that no child is left behind.

Key Findings in this year’s report include:

  • Children with disabilities are disproportionately denied their right to education. For example in Malawi a child with a disability is twice as likely to have never attended school.
  • Children with disabilities are more than three times more likely to be victims of abuse. Girls are particularly vulnerable and in many countries are subject to forced sterilization or abortion.
  • Children with disabilities face particular challenges accessing drinking water and sanitation services. Water points, taps and toilets are often inaccessible.
  • Children make-up the majority of casualties caused by landmines and other explosive remnants of war which lead to severe disabilities. Children accounted for 68 percent of all civilian casualties in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 61 percent in Afghanistan and 58 percent in Laos.

Since its adoption in 2006, about one third of countries have still not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Canadians should be proud Canada was one of the first signatories of the Convention, but UNICEF is now encouraging Canada to not only fully implement the Convention at home, but use its influence to ensure the Convention is ratified and implemented around the world.

An Agenda for Action

Today’s report includes a number of ways decision-makers and communities can ensure children with disabilities are no longer excluded.

Some of these approaches include implementing the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, fighting discrimination through policies and laws, ending institutionalization and ensuring sufficient support for families caring for children with disabilities.

The report also emphasizes the importance of global research to generate data and make children with disabilities more visible. It also highlights the importance of including children and adolescents with disabilities in decisions that affect their lives.

Visit unicef.ca/SOWC to read the report, view infographics and hear what youth from around the world have to say through UNICEF’s SOWC 2013 video challenge. Join the conversation on Twitter by following UNICEF Canada (@UNICEFLive) using the #thisability hashtag.

About The State of the World's Children reports

Each year, UNICEF’s flagship publication, The State of the World's Children, closely examines a key issue affecting children. The report includes supporting data and statistics and is available in French and Spanish language versions.

About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries – more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.