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03 Dec 2013

ICRC - Iraq: Paralympics Athletes Break Barriers to Social Inclusion

Baghdad (ICRC) – To mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a sport fair organized by the Iraqi National Paralympics Committee and Al Rafeedein Association with the support of the International Committee for Red Cross (ICRC) is taking place in Baghdad today.

The event seeks to alter perceptions of people living with disabilities in Iraq. Nearly 40 disabled Iraqi athletes will face off in judo, fencing and boccia to demonstrate that people with disabilities can be active and dynamic, and to rally support for their full equality and participation in society.

"This event aims to prove that disability does not have to be a social barrier. Many of the athletes performing today in Baghdad should be an example for others. They show that with the right kind of support they can achieve great things," said Alienor Bernhard, deputy head of the ICRC delegation in Iraq. "Providing the disabled with assistance is not charity. They have a right to enjoy the same opportunities as others."

As part of its efforts to address the consequences of decades of conflict and other violence in Iraq, the ICRC has been involved in physical rehabilitation in the country since 1993. In cooperation with the Iraqi authorities, the organization strives to meet the basic needs of the disabled. It is currently providing services for physically disabled people in Erbil and support for 10 other physical rehabilitation centres elsewhere in the country. In addition, the ICRC promotes the social and economic reintegration of disabled people so as to help them resume their normal lives.

In Iraq, the ICRC also visits detainees and enables them to maintain contact with their families, helps vulnerable groups, improves access to water and health care, and supports the authorities’ efforts to clarify the fate of people who went missing in connection with earlier conflicts.

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