Minister denied entry to COP26 summit due to lack of wheelchair accessibility
Karine Elharrar was made to return to her hotel in Edinburgh from Glasgow.
A minister who uses a wheelchair has criticised the UN following her denied entry into the COP26 summit this week due to accessibility issues.
According to the Guardian, Karine Elharrar was refused entry to the conference by organisers because of the vehicle she was using.
The Israeli Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources was made to wait for two hours outside the venue.
COP26 organisers offered a shuttle bus, which was then discovered to not be accessible for wheelchair users.
Elharrar was left with little choice but to return to her hotel in Edinburgh, 46 miles away from the COP26 host city of Glasgow.
She shared a tweet following the incident about her experience:
אל COP26 הגעתי כדי להפגש עם מקביליי בעולם ולקדם מאבק משותף במשבר האקלים. עצוב שהאו״ם המקדם נגישות לאנשים עם מוגבלויות, בשנת 2021, לא דואג לנגישות באירועיו.
מקווה שיופקו הלקחים הנדרשים כדי שמחר קידום אנרגיות ירוקות, הסרת חסמים והתייעלות באנרגיה יהיו הדברים שאתעסק בהם.
— קארין אלהרר 🟠 Karine Elharrar (@KElharrar) November 1, 2021
"I came to COP26 to meet with my counterparts around the world and promote a common struggle in the climate crisis," she wrote.
"It is sad that the UN, which promotes accessibility for people with disabilities, in 2021, does not provide accessibility to its events."
UK Foreign Office minister James Cleverly was among senior government members who expressed sympathy across social media.
I am deeply disappointed and frustrated that Minister @KElharrar could not access COP today.
The COP venue is designed to be accessible for all. I have spoken to the Minister about this and I look forward to meeting her tomorrow.
— James Cleverly🇬🇧 (@JamesCleverly) November 1, 2021
"I am deeply disappointed and frustrated that Minister @KElharrar could not access COP today," he wrote.
"The COP venue is designed to be accessible for all. I have spoken to the Minister about this and I look forward to meeting her tomorrow."
Neil Wigan, the UK ambassador to Israel, has also tweeted out an apology to Minister Elharrar.
— Neil Wigan (@FCDONeilWigan) November 1, 2021
"I am disturbed to hear that @KElharrarwas unable to attend meetings at #COP26. I apologise deeply and sincerely to the Minister", Wigan wrote.
"We want a COP Summit that is welcoming and inclusive to everyone."