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Top UN Envoy Travels to Beijing for Paralympics

Top UN Envoy Travels to Beijing for Paralympics

Wilfried Lemke, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, attended the opening ceremony of the Paralympics today in Beijing, China, acting as the Secretary-General's Special Envoy at the event.

Over 4,000 athletes from some 150 countries are taking part in the games, which wraps up on 17 September.

"The Paralympics are a powerful example of what can be achieved when everyone is given the opportunity to participate and perform to their full potential," said Anthea Webb, ad interim UN Resident Coordinator in China.

There are more than 82 million people living with disabilities in the East Asian nation, with 20,000 of them having recently become disabled due to the devastating Sichuan earthquake in May.

"Long after the Paralympics have finished, citizens and visitors with disabilities will find it easier to get around Beijing thanks to the new sloped curbs and ramps for wheelchair users, braille blocks on sidewalks and special access on public transport," Ms. Webb said.

China was one of the first nations to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which came into force this May.

On 30 August, a Memorial Wall dedicated to that pact was unveiled in the Beijing Paralympics Village, with the support of the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

The UN International Labour Organization (ILO) has helped China to develop legislation regarding equal opportunity for people with disabilities in the workplace. "People living with disabilities are like everyone else, they want to succeed and live independently and we want to help them achieve that," said Constance Thomas, the agency's Director in China.


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