An open letter to President Hassan Sh. Mohamud: - The New Government
Somali Diaspora Disability Forum (SDDF)
October 6th, 2012.
Mr Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, President of Somalia.
Secondly, this letter aims to draw your attention to one of the most adverse and multifaceted difficulty that faces your leadership, and subsequently offers what we feel is appropriate and workable advice which, if taken into account, will hopefully help to set your administration on the right path to handling one of the most imperative challenges before you and the nation – the severe inequality and poverty facing the disabled citizens of Somalia.
From the decade of the 1980s in the past century, to the present day, the Somali people have experienced terrible civil war which – like any prolonged conflict – has left a vast number of people injured, and having disabilities of various scales of detriment. Adding insult to the injury, for those affected by the conflict, there is no inclusive, nationwide primary data to measure the true magnitude of this problem, leaving many victims of war unaccounted for.
There are however, some partial, non-inclusive primary and secondary data collected and held by some UN agencies and other non-governmental organizations which, in our view, can be used as a benchmark to estimate, or at least envisage the extent of the predicament. For example, according to the UNHCR 2010 report, in Mogadishu alone, more than seven and a half thousand persons reported gun related injuries, and it is certain that a significant amount of these victims will have a sustained disability as a result. If that is the case in only one city for a period of 12 months, this paints for us a gloomy picture of the potential number of people who live with a permanent physical disability, considering the ongoing three decades of conflict across the country. Another report published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Swedish International Development Aid (SIDA) estimates that up to 15% of the Somali population are physically disabled. We must however, bear in mind of the fact that these figures do not include mentally disabled people, or the pastoral rural communities – who alone comprise 50% of the Somali population. Had they been included in the research, the figure would invariably and terrifyingly be far more than the 15% highlighted by the WHO and SIDA.
At the end of World War 2, the President of the United States at the time, Harry Truman, was alarmed by the magnitude of disabled war-victims, and so he took the initiative to set up the President’s Committee on the Employment of the Handicapped in 1947. This committee was charged with the responsibility of supporting the interests of disabled people, and created employment opportunities for them by urging employers to give disabled citizens a fair chance. In the face of the national devastation in Somalia today, we the SDDF hope for and anticipate a parallel approach to that of President Truman in 1947, which for us would represent a symbol of genuine political will towards a brighter and better future for Somalia.
Mr President, to pave the way for the realisation of these stated goals, and to lay the foundation for a long-term strategic approach, we respectfully recommend the following three points for consideration by your government;
(B) A ministerial department, fortified with the appropriate authority to implement the stated goals for achieving equality for disabled people should be founded,. This Ministry would be responsible for the designing and delivery of services and government policies that concern disabled people, and would ensure the fulfilment of Somalia’s commitment towards any international obligations related to the rights of those people.
(C) For multiple reasons that can be detailed in due course, we propose that the aforementioned ministerial department be led by a competent disabled citizen, a person with the appropriate credentials and charisma for the position. Furthermore, the majority of administrative posts in the department should be filled by qualified disabled citizens.
Somali Diaspora Disability Forum (SDDF)