Photo: Nino Zedginidze/UNDP

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is working hand in hand with the Government of Georgia to ensure that persons with disabilities all over the country have full access to accurate and timely information to protect themselves from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Timely access to accurate information is vital as we are fighting COVID-19,” said Lela Akiashvili, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Georgia on Human Rights and Gender Equality. “Since the breakout of the pandemic, the Government of Georgia is closely collaborating with international partners, national Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs), and people with disabilities to make information resources fully accessible for all.”

“We can’t fight the pandemic if we leave people out,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “Persons with disabilities face particularly high risks from this virus but often lack the resources and knowledge to protect themselves. We hope through our joint work to ensure that their rights are respected.”

UNDP has helped to adapt the national information campaign on COVID-19 to the needs of persons with different types of disabilities. Four informational videos about coronavirus symptoms and protection measures were subtitled and translated into sign languages to make them available for Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani speakers with hearing impairments. For persons with psycho-social needs and intellectual disabilities, 10,000 adapted flyers will be printed and distributed at 20 residential and psychiatric institutions. Alongside the Administration of Georgia, UNDP works closely with the Society of Georgian Psychiatrists and the Global Initiative in Psychiatry-Tbilisi to help develop specialised protocols and supervision programmes to ensure that both staff and residents are ready for the COVID-19 crisis.    

In Georgia, some 125,000 persons, or 3.3 percent of the population, are registered as persons with disabilities. The actual number is likely much higher since in most countries disability affects around 12 percent of the population. Despite the evident progress Georgia has made in recent years, persons with disabilities remain vulnerable and face physical barriers and stigma in every aspect of life.

UNDP has been assisting Georgia for over a decade in protecting the rights of persons with disabilities and building a more inclusive society, working in partnership with the Government, the European Union, the Government of Sweden, UN agencies and other national and international actors. A new USD 2 million joint programme to improve social protection for persons with disabilities was launched in Georgia at the beginning of 2020, with six UN agencies participating. This programme is currently being adapted to address the specific challenges that COVID-19 poses for persons with diabilities.

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