On November 8, Daniel Nadel of the U.S. State Department met with Sergei Drozdovsky, the coordinator of the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to discuss the situation of disabled people in Belarus. Nadel communicated the U.S. government’s support for efforts to improve the lives of disabled Belarusians and hope that Belarus will soon follow through on its January 2010 pledge to become a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The U.S. Embassy, through its small grants program, supports Belarusian NGOs working to improve the living conditions of the disabled. In 2010, six such grants were issued totaling over $116,000, that directly benefited 1,500 individuals, and the broader effort of removing physical and social barriers to people with disabilities being able to participate in and contribute to society. More information on the small grants program (including application instructions) is available at: http://minsk.usembassy.gov/small_grants.html
The Embassy’s office of USAID also provides support to the Belarus office of ChildFund International to promote, according to Secretary Clinton, “equal opportunity within society” for disabled people through development of services and strengthening the capacity of disability related NGOs. A separate USAID grant to the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities supported by the Belarusian Department of Labor was unfortunately denied registration this month by the Department of Humanitarian Activities within Department of Presidential Affairs, but we hope this issue will be revisited.