On July 27-30, 2022, the conference «With today’s experience for the future of Ukraine» was held in Latvia, dedicated to the issues of Latvia’s assistance to people with disabilities from Ukraine.
The organizer of the event is the Latvian organization of people with disabilities «SUSTENTO» and the European Forum of People with Disabilities.
The opening of the event was attended by Egils Levits, the President of Latvia, who addressed the audience with a video message, Gunta Anca — a Vice-President of the European Union, a Head of Latvian NGO «SUSTENTO», Oleksandr Mishchenko — an Ambassador of Ukraine to Latvia, Guntis Gailītis — a Head of Riga Latvian Society, Zane Petre — a Head of the Representative Office of the European Commission in Latvia.
With the direct participation of «SUSTENTO», about 250 people with disabilities have been transported from Ukraine to Latvia. Among these Ukrainians 141 people are residents of the Bakhmut Psychoneurological Boarding School, who are currently accommodated in 17 different Latvian boarding houses, where they are provided with all necessary assistance. In general, currently about 500 people with disabilities from Ukraine live in Latvia.
During the conference, Gunta Anča, a Head of the Latvian Association of Organizations of People with Disabilities «SUSTENTO», Tetiana Barantsova, a Government Official of Ukraine for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, representatives of the Ministry of Welfare of Latvia, Ministry of Health of Latvia, Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia, European Disability Forum, participants from Lithuania, Poland, Hungary and organizations that provide support to citizens of Ukraine and people with disabilities from Ukraine, within the framework of five panel discussions, have discussed issues of an inclusive society for people with disabilities in Ukraine.
During the three-day event, there was a visit to institutions where people with disabilities are accommodated, residents of a psychoneurological boarding school, a visit to the Samaritan Center in Latvia, where people with severe problems of the musculoskeletal system, with vision loss, and diseases of the central nervous system, including children and children with disabilities, are accommodated. Among the most positive moments of the Conference was a visit to an enterprise that manufactures electronic devices and that employs Ukrainians who use wheelchairs. Workplaces for people with disabilities are equipped, in general the building is completely barrier-free, people have undergone training before employment.
As part of the Conference, the Riga Declaration has been adopted, expressing strong support for Ukraine on its path to reconstruction and membership in the European Union, calling on the European Union, member states of the European Union, the Government of Ukraine, the United Nations and the global community to ensure that all people with disabilities have been taken into account, protected and have immediate access to humanitarian assistance, including all basic and any special needs, paying special attention to those who are most at risk (in particular children, women, persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, deaf people, blind people, people with a severe form of disability and people who stay in institutions), etc.
We sincerely thank Gunta Anca, a Vice- President of the European Forum of People with Disabilities, a Head of the Latvian public organization «SUSTENTO», and the entire team of the European Forum of People with Disabilities, Andris Berzins, a Head of the Latvian Samaritan Center and all Latvian people for their unlimited support and care for Ukrainians, including Ukrainians with disabilities and their families, who have found shelter and protection in Latvia.