PWDs In Lebanon: Statistics and Classifications

Imadeddine Raef & Jana El-Husseini

B.M., a physically disabled young man says: “I studied engineering, but I didn’t get a job”. As he submitted a complaint to the Disability Monitor[1] stating that the Ministry of Social Affairs has refused to grant him the Disability card. “They refused my application, arguing that my thumb is not amputated, despite the fact that my fingers are amputated!”, He added.

According to the Lebanese concept, the disabled young man is defined as a non-disabled person, unlike the International concept which defined him as a disabled person. Why?

Based on the Article 4 of the Law 220/2000[2], Disability Card is the only official adopted way to prove your disability. However, it is not being put into practice and PWDs are still fighting for their basic rights including health services, employment, and education…

The law was issued fifteen years ago, and adopted the International classification of Disabilities which was issued by the “World Health Organization” in 1980 and its subsequent amendments, and defined Person with disability as a “person whose capacity to perform one or more vital functions, independently secure his personal existential needs, participate in social activities on an equal basis with others, and live a personal and social life that is normal by existing social standards, is reduced or non-existent because of a partial or complete, permanent or temporary, bodily, sensory or intellectual functional loss or incapacity, that is the outcome of a congenital or acquired illness or from a pathological condition that has been prolonged beyond normal medical expectations”,(Article 2). Although, this definition has included the four types of disabilities (Physical, visual, hearing, and intellectual disability) yet DPOs and Human Rights organizations still have long way to develop it, so that it will match the disability social model which is reflected in the UNCRPD[3] issued in 2006, and not ratified yet by the Lebanese Parliament.


Available Figures


The “World Bank” refers in its latest report that the percentage of People with disabilities in Lebanon reach to 15% of the population, while, the International DPOs adopted the ratio of the 10% according to its field surveys conducted during the last two decades. Those surveys were conducted directly and indirectly, such as “From House to House” (Men Beit La Beit) campaigns carried out by the Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union, and other statistics related to the number of displaced disabled person during July war 2006 through the “emergency program”.

Based on those figures, Ms. Hanine El Chimali, LPHU[4] programs manager and Mr. Elie Gemayel, Projects manager of the British Council-Lebanon delivered a presentation in the frame of the International workshop held in Kiev on 9-11 June, 2015. The workshop entitled “Inclusive Decisions for Equal and Accountable Society” addressed the latest figures issued by the “Rights and Access Program”[5] where the number of disability cards reached 90583 cards, till May 18, 2015. It is worth mentioning that People with physical disabilities card holders have recorded the highest percent (55%), where 62% is male and 38% is female card holder. Among age groups, the highest percentage was for people who are able to work aged between 35 and 65. Figures also show that among 2761 disability card holders are people with learning disabilities, i.e. only 3% of the total card holders.


Waiting for Survey Results


The Analytical information based on the statistics is highly important for the relevant State departments, to meet the needs of DPOs and to build up lobbying campaigns, as debates are ongoing on the percentage of PWDs in the society.

In the frame of the “Disability and Access to Information” Report which was prepared by the Researcher Edward Thomas from “Article 19”[6], and launched on May 2015, in Beirut. Thomas noticed in his report that the Central Administration of Statistics in Lebanon is planning for a disability national survey in 2015-2016, supported by the Arab League using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. Moreover, DPOs are looking forward to see this survey to be accompanied with the ratification of the UNCRPD by the Lebanese Parliament, which will end up the debate about the numbers of and classifications and will place the rights of persons with disabilities on the implementation road.


[1] “Disability Monitor" is an initiative of the Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union, National Inclusion Network and other Disabled People`s Organizations in Lebanon, in partnership with Ministry of Social Affairs, with the support of "Diakonia".

[2] country’s Parliament passed Law for the rights of persons with disabilities

[3] United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) is the human rights convention concerning persons with disabilities. It is a list of rights guaranteed to persons with disabilities to improve their access to society, education and employment.

[4] Lebanese Physical Handicapped Union

[5] The National Council for Disabled People formulated and adopted the Rights and Access Program aimed at improving the quality of service delivery to those with disabilities in Lebanon.

[6] is a London-based human rights organization with a specific mandate and focus on the defense and promotion of freedom of expression and freedom of information worldwide founded in 1987.