FPSC and the University of Balamand organized a Symposium on PWD through the Syrian Refugee’s response in Lebanon

As of April 3rd, Lebanon hosts more than 1 million registered refugees from Syria, the largest population of refugees in the region. As UNHCR’s depicted it: ‘’the scale of displacement to Lebanon has been overwhelming’’, with number of refugees growing swiftly during the last year. Furthermore, refugees are scattered across the country, in an already challenging topographical scenery, impeding the coverage of even the basic needs for all the vulnerable households, and in many cases obstructing the outreach to the most vulnerable among them, including Persons with Disabilities.

In fact Persons with Disabilities are one of the largest vulnerable group among any refugee community, as it is the case among the Syrian refugees living in Lebanon: one out of five persons fleeing Syria lives with a disability in Lebanon, according to Handicap/Help Age International latest needs Assessment. This dramatic fact ought to be addressed proportionally to its magnitude, as present interventions would not be able to respond to most of this vulnerable community’s needs. 
Within the framework of its response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, FPSC joined efforts with the University of Balamand in Beirut to organize on March 20th the Symposium: Persons with Disabilities in the Syrian Refugee Response in Lebanon.

The meeting aimed at raising the awareness among the humanitarian organizations – Public institutions, UN agencies and NGOs involved in the Syrian humanitarian response - on the necessity to mainstream Persons with Disabilities needs within the programming. Experts from UN agencies and NGOs debated on the needs and prospective actions for Persons with Disabilities within the current emergency 

In its first part, the symposium provided an opportunity for humanitarians, whether field persons working directly with Persons with Disabilities or others responsible of programming, to feed the discussion with the achievements and challenges faced in their undertaking. Stimulating debate and critical analysis on how service delivery is realized helped in identifying the main gaps in terms of service delivery and geographical coverage. It also allowed exploring how the targeted response could better catch and involve Persons with Disabilities, starting from the first step, i.e. registration.

This discussion prepared the ground for the second part of the symposium, addressing the actions to be undertaken at the short and medium terms, in order to mainstream Persons with Disabilities needs in the humanitarian response. Speakers nourished the reflection on how these needs could be addressed whether as a specific targeted assistance for Persons with Disabilities (via rehabilitation or health programs for instance), or through the inclusion of this target group within the general actions, considering disability as a cross cutting concern (in education programs for example).

Furthermore, the symposium called the attention of participants on the need to secure the collective commitment of the Government of Lebanon, UN agencies and NGOs to play an active role, as duty bearers, in assuring the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the humanitarian response. As a fact, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in Article 11 requires states to ensure that persons with dis­abilities are protected in armed conflicts and hu­manitarian emergencies, and Article 32 requires that international cooperation be accessible to and in­clusive of persons with disabilities.
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