Thursday, April 28, 2011

In Saudi Arabia, 700,000 disabled people petition for better government services

From the Saudi Gazette:

ASIR, Saudi Arabia -- Over 700,000 people with special needs have submitted a petition to the Shoura Council calling for better services from government departments.

They accused government departments of negligence and recklessness. They raised 15 demands in their petition and asked for the Shoura Council’s support.

Abdullah Al-Hajiri, the founder of a website for people with special needs, called for the creation of a higher commission to look after people with disabilities.

He said this demand is part of the United Nations protocol signed by the Kingdom in 2006. Saad Al-Sarhani, a young man suffering from partial paralysis, said in the petition that Prince Naif Bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Premier and Interior Minister, should exempt people with special needs from paying traffic fines.

Sultan Al-Dhahiri, a person with a disability, said people with autism, Down Syndrome, dyslexia and cystic fibrosis only receive monthly financial aid of SR823. “Instead we are demanding a lump sum stipend from SR10,000 to SR30,000 to be determined according to the degree of a person’s disability.”

They also asked for modified cars to be given to people with disabilities, after a medical examination to determine whether they are fit to drive a car.

Mansour Al-Shamrani, a person with a disability, asked for the Shoura Council to draw up legislation that would make it obligatory for the Ministry of Health to bear the cost of treatment abroad. The law should also ensure that the cost of treatment is cut by 50 percent locally.

They also asked for working hours to be reduced from eight to six hours; be given Thursday and Friday off; annual paid leave of three months; and ensure their monthly stipend is raised so that their salaries are at least SR5,500.

Muhammad Al-Shahrani, another person with a disability, said: “We are also asking for government to provide residential units for us and to reduce the pension age.”

In their petition, they asked for the newly created anti-corruption committee to monitor the performance of ministries and agencies involved in providing services to people with disabilities.