05/23/2019, 09.27
LEBANON
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Beirut, disabled people stage protest against funding cuts

by Fady Noun

Protests scheduled across the country.  The government's decision to allocate only 1% of the budget for social affairs is being targeted.  Jobs at risk and assistance to people, especially children, in need.  For the experts, the social stability of Lebanon is at stake.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Today in Lebanon, a hundred or so third-sector associations specializing in the care of disabled people will take to the streets in various centers - among others Jounieh, Beirut, Tripoli, Zalhé, Nabatiyé - to protest against the cutting of their funding.  The government has in fact planned to allocate only 1% of the budget for social affairs;  a figure that activists and experts consider completely insufficient to meet ever-increasing needs.

Gathered in the National Federation for  People with Disabilities, the institutes will fill the streets late in the morning, between 10.30 and 12.30.  After the public and former military officials who demonstrated in recent days against the government's austerity policy , today it is the turn of social workers who want to "draw the public's attention" to a situation they call "disastrous".

The aim of the protest is to demand a solution  situation that is becoming unsustainable: the institutes, subsidized by the Ministry for Social Affairs, received a minimal part of the 2018 funds and have not yet seen the renewal of the annual contract for 2019. The situation  it is extremely precarious and touches the lives of several thousand families abandoned to themselves, in addition to the loss of hundreds of jobs.

Sesobel, an association that operates in Jeïta, ensures the education of about 200 children with Down syndrome.  In a statement, its leaders say that "several institutions have closed down and others have reduced specialized personnel, others have halved wages and pay intermittently".

The care of every child with a disability requires an annual expenditure ranging from 4 thousand to 8 thousand dollars.  To finance itself, explains Sister Patrizia, each institute organizes "events" and "brunches" aimed at raising funds.  And I'm constantly looking for sponsors and financiers to survive.  But all this is not enough and the intervention of the State is necessary.  "They are expedients" emphasizes the religious.  "It is begging," adds Nabila Farès, director and co-founder of the Acsauvel association.

 Third sector experts agree that self-financing poses major long-term survival limits.  There is, at least, the social stability of Lebanon.

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