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Mr. Wael Abu Kuwait, one of the founding members of Sanad initiative, gave a presentation on the organization, the situation, and suffering of Syrian with disabilities at the HCM (Humanitarian Coordination Meeting) meeting in Antakya on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. The presentation included a set of recommendations to help this marginalized group:

  1. Integrating people with disabilities into humanitarian work by adopting organizations and the humanitarian community to allocate seats in each organization and to include this principle in the internal work regulations of each organization
  2. Allocating seats for persons with disabilities in capacity-building programs
  3. Participation of persons with disabilities in the design of humanitarian programs in general (camps) and programs that target them in particular
  4. Start designing humanitarian programs that directly target this segment
  5. Focusing on designing advocacy and lobbying programs to ensure the rights of persons with disabilities in situations of risk and humanitarian disaster.

Sanad’s board members met with Mr. Yusuf Çelebi, Director of the Disabled Department in Gaziantep Municipality, and Recep Yılmaz, a member of the Board of Directors of the Turkish Blind Sports Federation. They talked about people with special needs and it was agreed in principle to provide them with lists of persons with disabilities under the age of 18 to provide them with educational opportunities.

The following applications were made:

  1. Provide suitable places for training and teaching this category in all fields.
  2. Provide humanitarian relief aid.
  3. Prosthetic devices.
  4. Provide school seats for Syrian disabled children and transportation.
  5. Free transport card for this category.

Mr. Yusuf stressed that there is nothing difficult and we will work together to help this group of Syrian brothers in the hope that this meeting will be beneficial to our Syrian brothers who are in this category and may alleviate some of their sufferings.

Members of Sanad’s board of directors visited Al-Ansar Center for Social Services in Gaziantep municipality, which provides free education to more than 200 Syrian children at different educational stages and some humanitarian aid.

The Board members discussed how to utilize the services of the Center for persons with special needs through cooperation between the two parties. The Board of Directors of Sanad concluded their visit with a tour around the center and to learn about its sections, services, and activities offered to children by Al-Ansar Center.

As part of the series highlighting people with special needs category, Chairman Said Nahas and Ms. Noor Konal, Board Member, made a presentation in Gaziantep in partnership with Research and Management Team (RMT) and in the presence of international bodies. The presentation included an explanation of the needs of this category after analyzing data collected during the field survey of more than 900 people with special needs in Gaziantep.

Complementing the advocacy process for people with special needs and to highlight their issues, Mr. Wael Abu Kuwait, Executive Director of Sanad Organization, gave a presentation in Beirut with the presence of international donor and Syrian organizations at the Tams Conference on the situation of people with special needs and the importance of their support.

The presentation included the situation of Syrians with special needs and difficult circumstances in Gaziantep and other countries receiving refugees or within Syria. He also spoke about the continuing increase in the rate of disability as a result of the war.

As part of a series highlighting the category of Syrians with special needs, Sanad participated in the International Conference, of People Who have been Disabled by the War, in Istanbul, Turkey.

Sanad, through its representative, Ms. Nour, conveyed the suffering of this group and their families in both the neighboring countries and inside Syria and the poor humanitarian situation they are living in under the disregard of all international actors for this group. She also conveyed a request for special projects targeting people with special needs and providing them with better livelihoods.

With God’s help, the training workshop was concluded under the title “Advocacy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”. The training included international conventions providing for the rights of women and children with disabilities. But we’re not going to stop here. More steps remain to be taken after a disability rights advocacy group was formed to communicate their voice more strongly and to advocate for their causes, through which Sanad Advocacy Team, consists of its members with special needs, was launched.

The workshop was held at Sanad’s office in Gaziantep on 17/07/2017 and continued until 22/07/2017. And these points happened thorgh it:

  1. Access to information and theoretical basis framework for human rights conventions and the conventions of protecting the rights of the disabled.
  2. The ability to transmit theoretical content about rights within the public awareness program to the rest of the community.
  3. Have awareness and advocacy skills.
  4. The trainees should be able to work on the implementation of awareness campaigns at the Turkish level in coordination with the competent authorities.
  5. Develop advocacy plans, schedules, and follow-up periodically throughout the life of the funded project.
  6. Form of a committee of advisers with experience in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Special Needs and International Humanitarian Law.
  7. Form a working group for the advocacy campaign and officially start working in Sanad as advocacy officials and follow them online to check the execution plan.

Every day, persons with disabilities are discriminated against that hindered their participation in society on an equal footing with others. Their rights are rejected to be employed and to live independently in the community.

The first meeting of the advocacy group of Sanad organization, for people with special needs, was with Syrian civil society organizations to highlight the need for the participation of people with special needs in the framework of work, training programs, and capacity building. A set of recommendations has been put forward by the participants to be worked on as an advocacy team:

  1. Develop mechanisms for the census of people with special needs having certificates and professions.
  2. Identify the targeted group.
  3. Establish a cooperative fund to finance small (special) projects for people with special needs.
  4. Discuss the matter with international organizations to convey the issue to human rights organizations.
  5. Find out the reasons for the community’s negative perception towards people with special needs, especially negative empathy.
  6. Provide employment opportunities suit their capabilities.
  7. Follow a series of procedures without procrastination in the provision of services according to the competence of each organization.
  8. Work on the rehabilitation of people with special needs medically and psychologically.
  9. Expand the discussion with Syrian organizations and invite as many people as possible to discuss a code of honor to recruit a percentage of people with special needs in institutions.

It was also agreed to draft a code of honor through subsequent meetings organized by the team in the coming days.

Sanad’s advocacy team visited the United Nations office in Gaziantep to learn about its mechanism of action and coordinate with the team’s work on disability issues. The team was very welcomed by the United Nations Office and considered it a wonderful step. A presentation was also made on their working mechanism, the official structure of the work, and the role of United Nations agencies in advocating for humanitarian causes.

Future steps were proposed to collaborate with Sanad advocacy team and provide more specialized workshops according to the priorities and needs of the team. The team was also invited to attend and participate in the Special Human Rights Group for Syrian Issues to raise the needs of this group.

At the end of the visit, they thanked for the information at the United Nations Office (Ocha Gaziantep) during the session and their desire to support the team with information and advice to conduct high-level and focused advocacy campaigns in the coming days and more.

As part of the community integration of Syrians with special needs in Gaziantep, Sanad, with the support of Concern Worldwide Organization, is holding a dinner between families of Syrians with special needs and families of Turks with special needs.

Each family hosts each other at home. The discussions take place on the customs, traditions, and culture of the two countries, especially in the nature, concerns, and problems of Syrians with special needs in Turkey. It should be noted that these evenings create an atmosphere of love, intimacy, and friendship.

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