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UNITED NATIONS, Dec 01 (APP): Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Munir Akram, has called for ensuring “full and equal” participation of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society, including in coronavirus response and recovery.

Speaking at a side event organized by the Office of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-general on Disability and Accessibility, Ambassador Akram, who is also the president of UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said realizing the rights of persons with disabilities was “crucial” to fulfilling the pledge of the 2030 Agenda: To leave no one behind.

The event was co-sponsored by Pakistan and some other permanent missions to the UN as well some organizations.

In his remarks, the Pakistani envoy pointed out that the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) entailed on state parties to take all possible measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities, including the protection of their access to the highest attainable standard of health.

Referring to the disruption caused by coronavirus, he said empirical evidence suggested that persons with disabilities have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic as they are at a greater risk of developing more severe health conditions.

“An integrated approach is therefore required to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind in our response and recovery efforts,” Ambassador Akram said.

In this regard, the Pakistani envoy proposed “universal accessibility” for persons with disabilities as a central pillar and bridge for the exercise of their human rights, and then move broadly towards the eradication of multidimensional poverty in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As ECOSOC president, he said he had proposed greater fiscal space for developing countries, larger investment in sustainable infrastructure and adoption of new technologies to recover from the COVID crisis and achieve the 2030 Agenda.

The development of “smart cities” with technological innovations can facilitate universal accessibility for persons with disabilities, he said. projects including development of “smart cities” which would facilitate universal accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Also, he said, all services related to the COVID-19 crisis, including remote/telephone medical advice, quarantine facilities, public information, including information on essential supplies and services should be accessible for persons with disabilities on an equal basis and provided on accessible platforms in various alternative formats, modes and methods of communication.

Ambassador Akram hoped that next year’s High-Level Political Forum will adopt COVID-19 response and recovery strategy which is inclusive, accessible and capable, especially for people with disabilities.