Since the global outbreak of COVID-19, RI President, Mme. Zhang Haidi, has been following closely on how the pandemic is affecting lives of the disabled around the world, and proactively initiating dialogues with UN agencies and international disability orgnizations on response measures.
On behalf of RI, Mme. Haidi has conveyed RI’s commitments to those agencies and organizations, calling on the international community to prioritize the specific needs of persons with disabilities at this critical moment and take effective and comprehensive measures to guarantee their safety and wellbeing. As she stated, “The pandemic is a challenge faced by all humanity, and we need to show particular care to persons with disabilities.” On her conversation list, the Ambassador of the Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations in New York and Chair of the Bureau of the Conference of State Parties(CoSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Mr. Luis Gallegos Chiriboga, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, and the Chair of International Disability Alliance (IDA), Ms. Ana Lucia Arellano were included.
In her letters, Mme. Haidi introduced the measures China has taken to help persons with disabilities against COVID-19. She said, “We have paid special attention to the nursing homes accommodating persons with severe disabilities. In Zhumadian city of Henan Province, there are more than 100 care centers for about 2,000 persons with disabilities, and so far none of them has been infected. This reflects our commitment to leaving no one behind in our inclusive development.”
Mr. Luis Gallegos Chiriboga, in his response to RI President, expressed his highest appreciation to Mme. Haidi for the support and collaboration in overcoming these challenging times.
In the capacity as Chair of the Bureau of the CoSP to the CRPD, Mr. Luis Gallegos Chiriboga wrote,“I would like to reiterate my recognition for the continuous support of China’s Disabled Persons’ Federation and Rehabilitation International to the Conference of State Parties. As every crisis can also become an opportunity, I hope the world will emerge more equitable, humanistic, and ready to prove that a health emergency can be translated into enormous support for social issues and the protection and promotion of human rights, with special emphasis on persons with disabilities.”
The Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, in her letter addressed to our RI President, extended her appreciation for the determined efforts of RI and CDPF under the leadership of Mme. Haidi in promoting the disability rights and inclusion amidst the pandemic. Furtheron she stated, “I believe that China’s disability-inclusive experience of combating COVID-19 will serve to inspire our region to persist in our fight against the virus.”
Referring to Mme. Haidi’s letter, Ms. Alisjahbana wrote: “I am delighted to hear about the upcoming reforms of Rehabilitation International under your able leadership, and look forward to our strong partnership with RI, including through joint projects for protecting and empowering persons with disabilities in dealing with the impacts of the pandemic in Asia and the Pacific.”
In her letter to Mme. Haidi, the Chair of IDA, Ms. Ana Lucia Arellano wrote: “On behalf of the International Disability Alliance, I wish to extend our appreciation to you for contacting us regarding the COVID19 pandemic. Like yourself, I am deeply concerned about the situation of persons with disabilities in the midst of the COVID19 response.” While expressing shared concerns for the wellbeing of the persons with disability during the COVID pandemic, she also expressed her readiness to collaborate more closely with RI in advancing the rights and inclusions of people with disabilities worldwide.