The President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, has issued the following statement:
«On the occasion of the International Day of Disabled Persons, I would like to express my attention and closeness to our fellow citizens with disabilities, their families and all those - professionals and volunteers - who deal with them on a daily basis with competence and dedication.
The difficult condition due to the pandemic is undoubtedly creating hardship and difficulties for all, also because of the necessary but painful restrictions in mobility and social contacts, which become a much more serious obstacle for those who are already facing difficulties in movement or relationships.
Isolation for health needs is in itself a heavy condition, but it can become a real tragedy when people with physical or mental disabilities experience it.
I am thinking about those who need constant assistance, those who live in care institutions, those who somehow rely on drugs, machinery or the support of other people for their daily life.
The difficulties and risks to obtain ordinary care and treatment at medical and hospital facilities, which are hard at work to deal with the Covid emergency, are a cause for concern.
In order to avoid these consequences and to return to normal conditions too, it is necessary to defeat the virus as soon as possible, respecting - despite even serious inconvenience - the rules of behaviour against contagion.
Disability, whether personal or of a family member, is in many cases associated with precarious income and employment conditions, access to the world of work for people with disabilities is a crucial issue.
The condition of children with disabilities is highly sensitive. The pandemic worsens the difficulty of following school lessons and the lack of relations with teachers and peers, and risks producing further conditions of marginalisation.
Disability is often, inevitably, linked to the third and fourth age. These elderly people are particularly at risk during the pandemic, they suffer a lot from loneliness, lack of direct relations with family and friends, and struggle to manage concrete aspects of daily life.
In recent years, Italy has taken many steps to temper the effects of disabilities and to promote genuine respect for the rights of those with disabilities, committing itself to breaking down barriers and obstacles - both physical and cultural – which limit their legitimate aspirations.
Last month, the European Union approved a declaration, binding on Member States, to build together an inclusive Europe for people with disabilities.
However, even greater efforts are needed - especially during this health emergency - to maintain and improve levels of care, support and attention. Also by listening to and involving associations and organisations that speak out on behalf of people with disabilities in this valuable activity.
The level of civilisation of a people and a Country is also measured by its ability to ensure inclusion, equal opportunities, rights and participation in all areas of public, social and economic life for people with disabilities.»