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AFUB GA in Rabat: Unity and Solidarity for the Blind’s Rights

The 10th General Assembly of the African Union of the Blind (AFUB), organized in collaboration with the Alaouite Organization for the Promotion of the Blind (OAPAM) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, commenced on Friday in Rabat. Held under the patronage of King Mohammed VI, the event is scheduled to run from October 27 to 30.

The event’s opening was marked by the arrival of Princess Lamia Solh, president of the OAPAM, who paid a visit to an exhibition featuring handicrafts created by blind artisans.

The gathering was attended by the King’s advisor, Fouad Al Himma, along with several key figures such as Minister of Solidarity and Family Affairs Awatif Hayar and Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb. Representatives of 46 out of the 54 members are taking part in the convention.

This event is a testament to the strategic commitments and South-South cooperation pioneered by Morocco over the past years, under the leadership of King Mohammed VI.

Attendees of this three-day event, held under the theme “Unity and Solidarity,” unanimously expressed their gratitude to the Monarch for supporting this event, a meaningful step for furthering the care for the blind.

The primary objective of this assembly is to tap into the diverse continental and international experiences, with the aim of empowering the blind population. By facilitating their active participation within communities, nations, and the continent as a whole, the assembly seeks to achieve comprehensive social integration for this specific type of disability.

In her address, Hayar stressed the need for unity among African nations to rise to the unique challenges faced by the visually impaired. She highlighted the remarkable progress made by OAPAM in supporting the blind community in Morocco and expressed dedication to promoting similar experiences throughout the continent.

The Minister emphasized her commitment to providing comprehensive support and services for this category. She also showcased initiatives and programs under way to enhance the accessibility, education, and employment opportunities for the visually impaired, underlining that Morocco is taking significant steps towards inclusion and equal opportunities for all citizens.

Among the examples provided are the integration of the visually impaired and the blind in the social register and providing them with social and financial aid as well as special cards for the disabled.

Speaking to the press, Ishmael Zhou, President of the African Union of the Blind and Senator of people with disabilities in Zimbabwe, expressed his gratitude to Morocco for hosting the 10th General Assembly of the African Union of the Blind, emphasizing Morocco’s history of supporting the Union, including the 2008 general assembly in Casablanca and the adoption of the Marrakech Treaty in 2013.

This treaty seeks to facilitate access to published works for the blind, the visually impaired, and individuals facing difficulties in reading printed texts.

In a statement to BaralamanToday, Zhou conveyed his emotions, stating, “This is my second visit to Morocco. My first visit was in 2008 when we held a general assembly in Casablanca, and now, I am here in 2023 for the 10th assembly (…). It is remarkable that this is the third time Morocco and its gracious people, especially OAPAM, host events for the blind. I continue to be overwhelmed with warmth, love, excitement, and humility for the incredible reception and support I’ve received from the people of Morocco.”

Martine Abel Williamson, President of the World Blind Union, expressed her delight at returning to the country that hosted the 2013 treaty’s adoption and finalization, recognizing that the pact is a significant milestone in advancing the rights of blind and visually impaired individuals worldwide.

The General Assembly prioritizes unity, solidarity, knowledge sharing, and advocacy for the visually impaired in Africa and the world.