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COVID-19 Relief: Disability Group Urges Inclusion in the Distribution of Materials

Following the announcement of plans by the Akwa Ibom State government to commence distribution of COVID-19 relief materials, a non-governmental organisation, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) has called for access and inclusion of persons living with disabilities.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the group’s Executive Director, Mr David Anyaele noted that “persons living with disabilities (PWDs) are the worst affected as a result of the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.”

“As such, we urge the government to ensure that Persons with Disabilities are given priority in the distribution of these relief materials.”

The group’s statement followed Tuesday’s announcement by the Secretary to the State Government, Emmanuel Ekuwem, of plans to commence distribution of “relief materials including rice, garri, flour and other essential food items” across the state.

Ekuwem said the provision of the items was to cushion and ameliorate the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on citizens. 

“This is to appeal to Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Emmanuel Udom not to leave Akwa Ibomites with disabilities behind in the distribution of relief materials and palliatives to all villages in Akwa Ibom State,” Anyaele said.

“We urge the Governor of Akwa Ibom State to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety and protection of Persons with Disabilities as clearly stated in section 25 of the Nigeria Disability Law.

“This appeal is important as the Akwa Ibom State Government is yet to sign the state Disability Law that prohibits discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization and marginalization of Persons with Disabilities thereby leaving thousands of Persons with Disabilities unprotected in Akwa Ibom State.”

The disability group also urged the Akwa Ibom State Government to make provisions for sign language interpreters and disability desk officers at its COVID-19 Isolation Centres in Ikot Ekpene, UUTH and Ibom Specialist Hospital in Uyo, to make the process disability compliant.

Akwa Ibom State government declared a 14-day lockdown after five persons tested positive to COVID-19 in the state. 

It recently announced that the patients were stable and responding positively to treatment at the isolation facilities.

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