No Persons with Deafblindness to be Left Behind
UNECOSOC, Sustainable Development Goals, COVID-19, Pandemic, Deafblindness

Strength of collaborative work can be seen on a global level through the United Nations in bringing about change and relief to the ends of the Earth. This past week, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) did something similar for people with deafblindness in India through Sense International India. A total of 179 statements from global NGOs were submitted to the UNECOSOC, including 14 from India along with Sense India. Our statement on ‘recommendations for deafblind people during Covid-19’ has been approved and recorded in the 2020 Council Meeting of United Nations Economic and Social Council. Under the blanket of a lockdown due to Covid-19, people with deafblindness have been struggling to see a way out. Many have been struggling to access necessities, make ends meet, have access to food, nutrition and medicine, receive education, therapy and meet their friends and teachers.

The submitted statement shared the severity of deafblindness and the heightened risks it attracts in the pandemic. It also records the isolation and neglect of persons with disabilities and their lack of access to basic needs. It says, “The crucial fact is that the combination of their dual sensory impairment strongly impacts on and increases the complexity of their situation, increasing their need for proper services to reduce risk of serious and severe health complications due to COVID-19.” Sense India has submitted a list of recommendations to the Government of India to receive support and better the standard of services provided to persons with deafblindness.

As Sense India holds special consultative status with UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and our written statement was accepted and published at the recent virtual meeting of High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development from 7-16 July 2020. We informed all, that the consequences of COVID-19 are more severe for persons with deafblindness. In these times of turmoil, we must ensure that people with deafblindness are also equally protected according to Article 11 of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) that mitigates- “States Parties shall take, in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters."

The United Nations HLPF is the core UN platform where governments, civil society and other actors meet to review the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda was adopted by all Heads of States in 2015. It outlines countries’ vision of the world in 2030 and contains 17 ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The key message of UN HLPF was that the response to COVID-19 should kick off the major changes we need in order to realize the 2030 SDG Agenda.

As a highlight of the meeting, 47 countries from all over the world presented Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) of their implementation of the 2030 Agenda, subjecting themselves to questions from other countries and major groups including NGOs, youth and the business sector. This year, India presented its second Voluntary National Review at the High-Level Political Forum. The meeting brought together the Prime Ministers of Norway and India, over 100 Ministers and Ministers as well as hundreds of policy makers from around the world, along with Members of Parliament, NGOs, think tanks, academia and the business sector. One of the main motto of the discussions was that “No One Must be Left Behind”. We at Sense India have ensured that persons with deafblindness do get heard at this important meeting and they are not left behind.

To read our full statement click the link and go to page 138

Author - Parag Namdeo
Head-Advocacy, Sense International (India)

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