Syria Keen to Meet Basic Needs of Persons with Disabilities

A package of procedures recently adopted by the Ministries of Health, Education and Social Affairs underscored their keenness to meet the basic needs of persons with disabilities and ameliorate their situation.

Marking the 21st anniversary of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD), several reports were released and a number of activities were held to this effect.

Within this context, Syria has recently joined the International Treaty to facilitate access to published works by visually and Impaired persons and persons with other disabilities.

Syria's Permanent Representative to the U.N in Geneva, Dr. Faisal al-Hamwi inked the treaty on behalf of Syria at the World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) headquarters in Geneva.

The treaty aims at alleviating obstacles that hinder the complete intellectual growth of those physically challenged and help them participate in various aspects of the cultural life and scientific progress and strengthening the positive impact of information technology.

The parties joining the treaty should work to harmonize their national legislations with the provisions of the treaty and encourage international cooperation to support their goals.

Being the first country in the region to join this treaty, Dr. al Hamwi stressed Syria's keenness on respecting and providing all rights to its citizens, particularly those with special disabilities.

He reiterated that Syria spares no efforts to enable the disabled persons cope with the intellectual, cultural and scientific developments.


Situation of disabled people in Syria

On December 3rd, 2013, Syria and all world countries will mark the 21st anniversary of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD) that aim to promote an understanding of people with disability, who make up 15% of world's population, and muster up support for their dignity, rights and well-being.

Several activities are to be held around the world and special reports will be released on this occasion.

The Syria times e-newspaper has seized this opportunity to open the file of disability in Syria and to elucidate how the ongoing crisis negatively affected  the situation of people with disability.

"Since the 1970s, the Department of Persons with Disability (PWD) was established at the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry to cater services to people with disability," the Department's Director Ahmad Efnekher said.


He made it clear that the department plays the role of mediator between the PWDs and the public establishments to ensure jobs, loans and investment license to the PWDs.

"Besides, the department guides persons with disabilities to the social care institutes and intercedes with the Non-Governmental Organizations to meet some of the requirements of the people with disabilities, such as wheelchairs, headphones, medicines…etc," Efnekher added.

National plan

In 2008, the cabinet approved a national plan, drawn up by the Syrian Organization for the Disabled "AAMAL", to rehabilitate the PWDs,

The approval was preceded by a symposium held on December 3rd in 2007 in Damascus in the presence of Mrs. Asmaa al-Assad to discuss the plan. 

On December 11th 2010, a national Forum on disability was held at Omayyad Palace where eight topics - policies, strategies, integrating disabled students, services, initiatives, Law, supportive environment, media, and disability and Job- were debated.

The participants in the forum suggested establishing a national commission for disability affairs to activate the national plan. But, the forum's recommendations have not been implemented.

It was said then that the PWDs  make up 10% of the Syria's population.


Until December 31st ,2012, the number of the PWDs registered in 59 social care institutes for blindness, deaf, cerebral palsy, physical and intellectual disabilities reached up to 4638- mostly male- according to  statistics gleaned from the Social Affairs Ministry.

The statistic shows that 27 social care institutes are governmental and 32 ones are non-governmental and the number of the PWDs in the governmental institutes is 3139 cases.

All these numbers  changed over the past year due to the spread of acts of vandalism and terrorism in the country.


Efnekher told us that many institutes- especially in northern Aleppo province- have been damaged and several others have been turned into shelters for displaced citizens, who fled their homes in flashpoint areas.

The institutes have been used as shelters since summer vacation.

 He added that the ministry, in coordination with the Relief Committee, is working  to relocate the displaced citizens to other shelters in order to re-open the institutes for the PWDs.

"This year, the institutes recorded one of the lowest ever turnout for several reasons related to the current circumstances in the country. One of which is the difficulty of ensuring buses to pick up the people with disability to the institutes," Efnekher said. 


The ministry is planning to set up new social care institutions in the safe areas in the provinces of Homs, Sweida and Quneitra and urges the NGOs to open new branches for special education services.

It, in addition, will reactivate the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) and launch a social awareness campaign to confront the new situation of disability in Syria.  

"The current circumstances caused  disabilities that necessitate rehabilitation at the social and psychological level," the director of the PWD's Department said.

Asked about the Central Council of the PWDs, which was established under the 2004 Law No.34, Efnekher clarified that a new body called 'Higher Disability Committee" will be formed to replace the council after the issuance of the new law.

"The ministry is working to develop some legislations and laws of the PWDs according to a new vision," Efnekher asserted, adding that the cooperation between the ministry on the one hand and the regional and international organizations on the other regarding the disability issue, comes within the framework of development programs.

Translating commitments into action is what is needed to ensure accessibility to persons with disability in all aspects of society and development all over the world. 

A fact of everyday life

Stigma, discrimination, and exclusion remain  facts of everyday life for too many persons with disability all over the world, despite all major steps taken to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (issued in 2006), the UN Sectary General Ban Ki-moon said on September 9th 2013: "

In conclusion, we echo what the WHO Director General, Margaret Chan said: "Disability is part of human condition...Almost every one of us will be permanently or temporarily disabled at some point in life... Even in high-income countries, up to 40% of people with disabilities do not have access to the services they need."

Statistics on disabled people registered at Social Affairs Ministry till December, 31, 2012



Total number







Social Care Institutes for PWDs


























Intellectual disability
























Cerebral Palsy







































Physical disability












Reported by: Basma Qaddour

Syrian Women, Peacemakers

Prior to the ongoing crisis Syria has been facing, Syrian women have had a pivotal role at various levels and made effective and remarkable strides in building modern Syria and in preserving its peace, stability and progress.

Syria's extraordinary circumstances have had bad impacts and serious repercussions on women as they are the hardest-hit category that is suffering acts of violence and rape committed by the foreign-backed terrorist groups.

Marking the International Day for Combating Violence against Women, Ministry of Social Affairs in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently organized a workshop to shed light on the role of Syrian women in peacemaking in society.

Presidential Political and Media Advisor Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, who attended the workshop, said in a statement to journalists: "Syrian women under the crisis have encouraged struggle for the sake of the homeland and they are expected to play a distinguished role in rebuilding Syria and making peace at the local and internal level".

Minister of Social Affairs Dr. Kinda al-Shammat stressed the importance of preserving Syrian women's pioneering role in society and at enhancing this role, especially in the confrontation of the violence and human rights violations the Syrian women are being exposed to under the current circumstances in Syria.

Al-Shammat necessitated empowering Syrian women at the political level so as to contribute to making civil peace and preserving stability in the country.

She reiterated that it is important to reach principles that focus on protecting Syrian women from the negative consequences of wars and from violent and barbaric. It is also necessary to document such violations as a first step towards bringing the perpetrators to justice, she said.

"The Syrian government is committed to the UN resolution pertaining supporting woman's issues, hailing the Syrian women' struggle to get freedom and preserving her dignity and sovereignty" Al- Shammat added.

For her part, the Minister of Culture Dr. Lubana Mshaweh highlighted women's great role in disseminating culture, amity and tolerance to attain a better society, stressing women are the "bedrock of society."

Resident Representative of the UN organization in Syria, Yaacoub al- Helou referred to the joint projects and programs between the Ministry of Social Affairs' concerned bodies and the U.N organizations working in Syria aiming at easing the suffering the of Syrian people, especially women and children.

Head of the IOM mission in Syria Maria Rumman said women and children are major victims of the crisis in Syria, pointing out that most of the displaced people are women and children.

She clarified that the U.N resolutions have noted the bad impacts of the crisis on women and the women's suffering, particularly from sexual and physical violence.

Participants in the workshop discussed the necessity of enhancing the Syrian women's role in achieving local peace and stability, in taking part in awareness campaigns related to the elimination of violence against women and in carrying out training programs and workshops on social and political qualifying.

On the sideline of the workshop, the Social Affairs Minister opened an art exhibition depicting the visions of the martyrs' children concerning violence against women and mothers. A number of martyrs' wives and mothers were also honored.

Rawaa Ghanam 

'Business Clinics' Center at Damascus University Offers Free Services to Every youth to Enter Job Market

Youths are the backbone of the nation as they can change the future of the society with their well-being and courageous behavior. Several projects have been set up by NGOs in cooperation with the government to develop and invest youths' capabilities in different fields.      

One of these projects is called the "Business Clinics" Center, which was opened on Monday by Damascus University and The Syria Trust for Development at the Faculty of Civil Engineering.

The idea of the "Business Clinics" first came up by the Trust in 2008 and the opening ceremony of the center at Damascus University comes a year after ratifying partnership between the two sides (The Trust and Damascus University).

According to a brochure distributed in the ceremony, the center is a bridge to connect youths with business sector through offering free consultations and training courses that would help them hone their capabilities, achieve community development, and support activities and volunteer initiatives plus participatory projects.

The "Business Clinics" center will hold workshops and courses on "Job search skills", "job interviews", "startups", "social entrepreneurship", and "life skills" and will help youths to identify their personality type.


The Syriatimes' reporter toured the center, which includes a hall for virtual training and a library as well as training, consultation and waiting halls, and conducted interviews with some trainers and volunteers there to shed light on the mechanism of working and registration in the center.

Mr. Said Swed, who is in charge of the "Business Clinics" website, said: "we communicate with youths via the Facebook- ClinicDaUni- where we post several programs on the skills of job search and the time management and on personality test."

But, he added, the website of the "Business Clinics" and specialized consultations are to be launched within two months.

"The existence of the center at university campus will achieve a better communication with university students. We are optimistic as Syria has creative and generous youths. Youths are to be partners in the process of building the website with us." Mr. Swed said.


Miss. Seba Shaddod, a volunteer working at the library, said that the library contains around 250 books from Harvard University on the job market and social entrepreneurship and on the way to launch special initiatives to develop the community.

"We give the youths in the center the books that serve their interests," she added.

Her colleague, Mr. Fadi Ibrahim, told us" "We connect with Harvard business library to get some books and we also have books by Ibrahim Elfiky." 

"In the future, we plan to hold workshops for youths in order to discuss the books that they read. Our main goal is to bridge the gap between Academic study and the job market"

The most important thing in the center is making informed career choices (Tamheed Test). "This test is free and helps students to make career decision," Miss Shaddoud said.


 As for topics being chosen in training courses, Miss. Weam Tannos said: "We try to offer the services that youths want and we carry out a survey to define the youths' requirements."

She added that the center, which will open its doors every day from 9:00am till 4:00 pm except Friday and Saturday, is to hold 3-6 workshops a day in three training halls, each can accommodate 25-40 youths.

Over the past period, well over 84 volunteer trainers have worked for the programs that attracted more than 4500 youths, who have benefited from 180 training workshops on "job search skills", "entrepreneurship", "setting up small projects", "life skills" and other topics.

Culture of Volunteerism 

Another type of training is also available in the center, precisely in a hall named ' social entrepreneurship' where Green Bees team works for spreading awareness among university students on the culture of volunteerism.

Mr. Mohammad Baized, a volunteer trainer at the Green Bees said: "Our team, which consists of 10 volunteers, is affiliated to Damascus University and it was established in 2012".

"Previously, we mounted workshops to shed light on all faculties within a framework of a project called ' Mofadalati.. Mostaqbali'- in cooperation with the 'business clinics'- in order to help students, who had completed general secondary school, to choose the proper specialization." 

As many as 6000 students benefited from the ' Mofadalati.. Mostaqbali' project [ slang means: selection of my study at university shapes my future] . In other words: "My aptitude determines my altitude"

Mr. Biazed is one of the volunteer trainers, who are very proud of their works.   

Another volunteer trainer was very happy for playing an active role in spreading the culture of business awareness among youths.

 Miss, Christine Kashar has worked at the business clinics since 2008 and helped youths to be aware of business sector.

"The 'Business Clinics' program was part of 'Shabab' initiative that was launched by the Trust to enable youths in Syria, aged 15-29, to choose their career by building their business knowledge and skills to increasing their employability," She said.

Miss. Kashar decided to be a volunteer at the business clinics because she believed in the goals of the Shabab initiative. "Personally speaking, I have to believe in the goals of any initiative in order to work as a volunteer."

She was among the trainers, who were honored in the ceremony, in appreciation of her efforts. "I was waiting for this honor and it lift my morale to be more active."

Verily, the opening of the center at Damascus University also boosted the morale of university students who challenge the current circumstances in the country and insist on continuing their study to be active and initiator in their community.

Reported by: Basma Qaddour

The Bleeding Story of Sadad

 The town of Sadad in Homs countryside was the target of a recent terrorist attack. I did not know this town before, but the martyr who came to the house next door to mine and his wounded associates made me interested to find out more details about this town and what had happened there.

"It is not coincidence that terror attacks this town. What had happened was a systematic plan drawn by these terrorist groups to fragment Syria's unity and territorial integrity and to destroy the pattern of co-existence and security the Syrians live in", one of the people said.

"I think that the attack and the acts of killing and destruction committed by the takfiri terrorists in this town were a dirty work which aimed at breaking up the state and displacing an important component of the Syrian society, the Christians. They first targeted Maloula and now Sadad," he added.

"What happened in our lovely town is but a heinous massacre which is beyond any description. They have perpetrated killing and sabotage acts under false pretexts and in the name of Islam forgetting that the teachings of Islam forbid killing or attacking others. They want to impose a new doctrine based on bloodshed, violence and eliminating the other", a woman said.

"Holy places and people's doctrines in this area have been protected over centuries. We have been enjoying security and peace and freedom to worship. We have to defend our Syria , our existence and to get rid of the terrorists and their ideology," the woman said firmly.

The attack did not affect the morale of the people of the town. Syrians, from all spectrums of society, defended Sadad as they refused to  get any part of Syria under the control of those takfiri  groups.

Tears mixed with much pride accompanied the procession of the martyr and mourners represented all spectrums of society .

"He was martyred while repelling the aggression targeting the people of Sadad and their historical church. By defending the church he was also defending  the town's mosques and coexistence," one of the martyr's comrades said.

"We are all ready to defend our Syria relentlessly whatever the sacrifices are. Our blood is a scapegoat for the soil of the homeland ," he stressed.

The comrades escorted the martyr to his final resting place and returned quickly to continue their sacred mission of defending the homeland and clearing it from terrorists. They stressed that they will spare no effort to terminate terrorism and restore peace and security to Syria.

Amal Farhat

'Massar Discovery Adventure' launched in Damascus


The Syria Trust for Development has launched the 'Massar Discovery Adventure' that aims at creating supportive environment for active learning for children aged 6-15 years.

The adventure is the first step in the 'Massar Rose Project' and it uses up-to-date technology and multiple learning styles based on notice, discovery and deduction to provide children with skills and knowledge that help develop their personalities and enhance their sense of belonging to the homeland and identity.

In addition, children could be active learners capable of investing principles and knowledge to serve themselves, their community and country, according to the adventure's goals.

Active learning

On Thursday, many children took part in the adventure at the Damascus Old Fairground where they toured 20 active discovery exhibitions in seven booths to have personal, social, national, environmental and scientific experiences that enable them to play active role in their homes, schools, quarters and areas.

"Beginnings", "Life", "our world", "ideas", "youth", "achievements", and "I'm able" are the titles chosen for the booths dedicated to help children know more about the Syrian fabric and about creatures, fossils, aromatic plants, the earth and the force of nature.

 The children will discover in the tour how they can develop their capabilities, turn their dreams into reality, and choose their goals and the course of their life as well as how decisions can change their future.


Mrs. Dania Ashi, Director of the "Massar Project", told reporters: "Now we can say that Massar Rose has become a reality thanks to the efforts of the team and volunteers… The process of building active Syrian child is a priority to be able to move to a better future."

Visiting times

"Families and their children can visit the adventure center everyday from 10:00 am till 5:00 pm except Fridays. The adventure is the first season of Massar Rose," Mrs.  Ashi said, adding: "In the next seasons, new active exhibitions are to be held every four months as the adventure is connected with the children friend centers, such as the one in Dwel'a area, to implement the activities there."

The Massar Rose project was designed to empower and strengthen the skill of the local community to improve their living conditions as well as to protect and revive the Damascene Rose type that grows in the region.

Massar, which is one of the Trust's projects, worked from 2005 to 2011 and effectively contributed to setting the Trust's new strategic plan.

The Trust is a non-governmental, non-profit organization established in 2001 to empower individuals and communities in Syria to fulfill their role in building their society and shaping their future.

Basma Qaddour 

The Negative Impact of Crisis on Children


Syriatimes reporter in Sweida  has carried out recently a meeting on current crisis negative impact on pre- school children.

A number of teachers and specialists at Tishreen Buds kindergarten assured that all the Syrian children have been critically affected by the ordeal of our homeland, namely the pre- school children.

Director of the kindergarten Samah Trabih said acts of terrorism that have been perpetrated by the armed terrorist groups have hurt our children's psychological and mental health.

'' The dire repercussions of the aggressive acts that have been practiced against our people   are very clear on our children's behavior. The reactions of our children are currently  revealing their confusion, fear and anger.'' she added, calling for exerting intensive efforts regarding halting the crisis negative impact on our children .

For her part, the psychological specialist Amani Zitoni, who is also a teacher at the kindergarten said I have noticed recently  a serious change in our children' ways of speaking, playing and communicating. She also reiterated that children's reactions, activities and behaviors are not normal.

'' our children, namely the homeless have paid the highest price due to our homeland's current crisis , they have been prevented from their rights , they have been forced to leave their houses and cities. They are the real victims of terrorism. ''Mrs Zitoni said, citing the homeless pressing need for psychological and social support.

During the meeting , Suzan Rkab a teacher in this field highlighted the governorate's efforts regarding supporting the children at its governmental kindergartens , especially the homeless.

The teacher assured that all the governmental kindergartens in the city expressed full readiness for ensuring a free participation for the martyrs' and homeless children.

With this in mind, the Women Union Branch in Sweida has carried out recently  a humanitarian  study on the homeless children humanitarian conditions as to accommodate  the pre- school homeless children with suitable kindergartens.

It is noteworthy that in the district of al- Quraia there is a special department that is allocated for tackling the serious psychological situation among the homeless children .

Finally, All teachers expressed concern over the future of the new generation, calling on all parents for giving priority for raising their children awareness regarding our homeland current crisis, through answering their questions. The specialists also called for taking into consideration the children's presence at homes, namely during watching news.

Nahla Maaz for Syriatimes – al- Sweida governorate