29 May 2014
Category : Interview
“Our goal is total and comprehensive integration of persons with disabilities”
Entrevista al ministro de Asuntos Sociales de Túnez, M. Ahmed Ammar Youmbai.We interviewed the Tunisian Minister of Social Affairs, M. Ahmed Ammar Youmbai.
Tunisia has been working on policies to assist persons with disabilities since 1981. Now it has placed the emphasis on developing measures to help them be self-sufficient through complete integration into society. On the occasion of the closing of the “Support for socio-economic integration of persons with disabilities”project managed by the FIIAPP in this country, we interviewed the Tunisian Minister of Social Affairs, M. Ahmed Ammar Youmbai.
Why did the Tunisian government decide to request this project?
There is a particular interest in this group that we consider vulnerable and worth special attention. This made us see that it was necessary to contact national and international experts. Tunisia believes in this collaboration, especially between our country and Europe. We are sure that the Europeans can provide great value, and this is being demonstrated by the results of the programme. We are very proud.
What is the ultimate goal?
Our goal is total and comprehensive integration of persons with disabilities into the system in general, and particularly into the economic system. Tunisia has a great deal of experience in this field, but there are still areas that need to be covered. The idea that persons with disabilities must be assisted still exists, and we want just the opposite: for persons with disabilities to be self-sufficient and integrate themselves completely into society through work. There are already many projects that work on behalf of persons with disabilities, but we have seen that they are insufficient.
Did anything change with respect to this group after the Arab Spring?
We have noted some improvement. There is a stronger response from civil society, and there are many associations that are taking an interest in persons with disabilities. And they are doing extraordinary things. And this is a great source of support to the Government. Then, after the Arab Spring, people saw that the Government is not the only one responsible for this group. Moreover, from the government’s point of view, there is a clearer strategy. All of our actions are oriented towards observing the employment and occupation of persons with disabilities.
By law, in the public sector we are obliged to ensure that 1% of the staff is made up of personnel with disabilities. Between 2012, 2013 and 2014, we have recruited 1,000 persons with disabilities, but in the Ministry of Social Affairs we think this can be improved, and now we are considering a draft law to increase this percentage to 2%. This recruitment is important for establishing equality between persons with disabilities and those without. We have also noted that there is a greater number of demands and projects, especially micro-projects, for persons with disabilities, and we are studying their needs so that they can move forward.
How was the collaboration between the Tunisian and Spanish institutions?
The interest is reciprocal. It was a very useful collaboration for our department. And I think the collaboration between us and our Spanish friends was perfect.
What measures do you think Tunisia needs to take in the future with respect to this group?
We think that civil society should take the lead and that the Government has to take the role of guiding, not imposing itself on, the associations. Guiding them in their programmes and actions so that they can work on behalf of this group.
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