Letter to UK Prime Minister from General Secretary Richard Rieser 09.06.20

Dear Boris Johnson,

I write to you as the Secretary of the Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum. We represent the 450 million plus disabled people across the Commonwealth and are very concerned about the loss of human rights demonstrated during the current Pandemic, especially around triaging disabled people away from treatment.

At an online summit on Friday 5th June the following key issues were repeatedly brought up:

  • Disabled People’s Organisations are generally not being consulted by Government, with a few exceptions e.g. in Malaysia and Guyana.
  • Lack of information access has been addressed in most countries. Stigma is still an issue.
  • Lack of support for personal assistants, food, welfare, medicines and usual medical procedures.
  • Unemployment and lack of reasonable accommodations, especially for self-employed.
  • Lack of access to online schooling and erosion of support for disabled students.
  • Higher fatality rates for disabled people in institutions, people with Learning Difficulties and those with chronic conditions who need shielding support from Government.

We have representation from DPOs in 44 of the Commonwealth’s 54 countries. We are very concerned about a lack of the development of a united international response, led from DFID and the FCO, to support disabled people in the on-going Pandemic and recovery period.

We ask you to use your best efforts to call an emergency meeting of the G20 to develop collaborative global measures to control the COVID-19 pandemic. While there is no vaccine, out-breaks anywhere are a threat everywhere. If one examines the percentage of infections in the two weeks to 7th June it is clear the pandemic is far from over across the Commonwealth e.g. Malawi 79%, Uganda 66%, Mozambique, 59%, Bangladesh 49%, India 46%, Pakistan 44%, Nigeria 38%.

Resources for the global recovery need to be pooled and the Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum strongly urges that such measures need to be geared to creating greener futures, with greater respect for human rights, equality and supporting the full implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Sustainable Development Goals. This must now include serious support for independent living and the ending of reliance on care homes, where a large proportion of Covid-19 related deaths have occurred. Bilateral and nationalist responses will, I am sure you agree, only create greater problems for the world in the longer term.

Yours sincerely

Richard Rieser

General Secretary of Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum