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Haiti: United Nations Expert body establishes group to advise on the Situation of the Disabled

GENEVA (5 March 2010) – The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities announced Friday the creation of a working group to follow up on the situation of the disabled in Haiti, who have been disproportionally affected by the earthquake that hit the country in January.

Last month, the group of human rights experts called on the authorities to ensure that persons with disabilities fully participate in the decision-making process for the country’s recovery and reconstruction, and that sustained efforts be centred on the long-term development needs of disabled persons in Haiti.

The Committee’s working group will also follow the situation of persons with disabilities in other countries affected by devastating natural disasters, such as in the case of Chile, where some two million Chileans are believed to have been affected by Saturday's 8.8-magnitude earthquake.

Announcing the creation of the working group, the UN expert’s body reminded that according to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, “states are to take all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, and natural disaster like the occurrence of this earthquake.”

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities agreed on the launching of the working group on Haiti during its Third Session in Geneva, from 22 to 26 February 2010*.

The 12-member Committee is the body of independent experts monitoring the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which so far has been endorsed by 140 countries. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities was adopted on 13 December 2006 by the UN General Assembly, and entered into force on 3 May 2008.

(*) Third Session, Statement by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=9868&LangID=E