Disability and displacement

The World Health Organization estimates that about 15% of the world’s population has a disability. Although there are no global figures are available, according to UNHCR this prevalence figure suggests that several million people with disabilities are currently displaced by conflict or natural disaster and are living in refugee camps or urban slums around the world. Some displaced people may have lived their entire life with impairments, while others may have acquired impairments in the conflict that led to fleeing their homes to a refugee camp or urban area.

Displaced people living with disabilities are among the most hidden and neglected of all displaced people. They are very often excluded from mainstream assistance programs because of attitudinal, physical and social barriers. They are often forgotten when specialized and targeted services are established. Refugees with disabilities become even more isolated following their displacement than they were in their original communities.

Humanitarian and subsequent development initiatives need to develop inclusive policies and programmes to ensure the inclusion of refugees with disabilities. This is supported by article 11 of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. To achieve this, more research and improved management information systems are needed to address the gaps in knowledge and to ensure that refugees with disabilities are higher on the international agenda.

The resources in this key list include practical guides, manuals, studies and websites that highlight important information about disability and displacement for people with disabilities, practitioners, humanitarian and development agencies and organisations, as well as communities and family members. We welcome your suggestions: please send comments or suggested additions to sourceassistant@hi-uk.org.

Selected resources

Books, reports, etc

Access to services for persons with disabilities in challenging environments : supplement to the seminar held in Amman (Jordan) in December 2009

DIXON, Catherine
BLANCHET, Karl
Eds
July 2010

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This is a collection of articles on research, policy initiatives and case studies on the theme of access to services based upon exchanges during a seminar on access to services in Amman in December 2009. It was written by Handicap International staff, field partners and international experts. There are three sections: key concepts and references on access to services; challenging environments; and innovation to improve access. This resource would be useful for practitioners and policy makers interested in access to services for people with disabilities.

An examination of current provision of education for children with special educational needs in Karen refugee camp schools at the Thai-Myanmar border

MORTIMER, Aye Aye
August 2004

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"The paper investigates the provision of education for children designated as having special educational needs within the context of the Karen community located near the eastern border area of Myanmar. The population sample chosen is that of the Karen refugees in camps along the Thai-Myanmar border. The study is carried out through: i) collection of available statistics to demonstrate the scale of the problem; ii) disaggregation of data to indicate the range of special needs being catered for; and, iii) an examination of various teacher training and administration approaches being used, in order to identify whether these are accommodating to children with special educational needs"

Disability checklist for emergency response : general protection and inclusion principles of persons with disabilities/injuries

HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL
2010

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Adapted from the 'Disability Task Force', this checklist provides useful guidelines about general protection and inclusion principles for people with disabilites or injuries in emergency situations. The following topics are highlighted: health, food and nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene; protection; psychosocial support; reconstruction and shelter; livelihoods; and education. This checklist would be useful for practitioners interested in the protection and inclusion of people with disabilities in emergency situations

Heightened risk identification tool (HRIT)

OFFICE OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES (UNHCR)
June 2010

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"The Heightened Risk Identification Tool (HRIT) and User Guide have been developed to enhance UNHCR's effectiveness in identifying refugees at risk by linking community-based / participatory assessments and individual assessment methodologies. They have been designed for use by UNHCR staff involved in community services and/or protection activities (including resettlement) and partner agencies"

Hidden victims of the Syria crisis : disabled, injured and older refugees

HELPAGE INTERNATIONAL
HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL
April 2014

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This report presents research undertaken to highlight the number and needs of Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon living with impairment, injury and chronic disease – for the purposes of this study these groups are referred to as “people with specific needs”. Throughout the report specific consideration is given to the position of older people with specific needs. Due to access and security constraints it was not possible to collect data in Syria itself, however it is recognised that the needs of refugees identified in the following report will be reflected within Syria, and that in this more extreme humanitarian situation the issues outlined below demand further consideration and response

IASC guidelines for mental health and psychosocial support in emergency settings

INTER-AGENCY STANDING COMMITTEE (IASC)
2007

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These guidelines provide information to organisations and individuals on how to respond during humanitarian emergencies by highlighting eleven specific action sheets that offer practical guidance on mental health and psychosocial support. The guidelines include a matrix of interventions with guidance for emergency planning, actions to be taken in the early stages of an emergency, and comprehensive responses needed in the recovery and rehabilitation phases. This resource is gives humanitarian actors useful inter-agency, inter-sectoral guidance and tools for responding effectively in the midst of emergencies

NGOs & UN agencies assisting persons with disabilities : a non-exhaustive reference list of organizations working with and for persons with disabilities world-wide

EGUEZ, Maria Isabel
April 2008

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"This reference list is a mapping of specialized organizations working with and for persons with disabilities around the world. This reference list is intended to help UNHCR field staff identify specialized organizations that may be willing to support UNHCR by including persons of concern with disabilities into their programs...The reference list has been divided into five regions: Africa, Middle East & North Africa, Asia & the Pacific, Europe, and the Americas. Each region is then alphabetically categorized by country"

The heightened risk identification tool : user guide

OFFICE OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES (UNHCR)
June 2010

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"The Heightened Risk Identification Tool (HRIT) and User Guide have been developed to enhance UNHCR's effectiveness in identifying refugees at risk by linking community-based / participatory assessments and individual assessment methodologies. They have been designed for use by UNHCR staff involved in community services and/or protection activities (including resettlement) and partner agencies"

The protection of older persons and persons with disabilities

UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES
June 2007

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"This paper examines the challenges which older persons and persons with disabilities face in accessing protection, including assistance, in situations of displacement. It reviews current policies on the protection of displaced older persons and those with disabilities; highlights the main protection challenges faced by these individuals; and outlines efforts made by UNHCR and partners to respond to these challenges. Finally, it summarizes the key areas for attention and follow-up in the next three years to improve its performance in providing protection and support to older persons and persons with disabilities"
EC/58/SC/CRP.14

Working with persons with disabilities in forced displacement

UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES (UNHCR)
2011

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"Refugees with disabilities have specific needs and face particular forms of discrimination. As highlighted in the Executive Committee Conclusion No. 110 (LXI)-2010, it is important for UNHCR to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities who are of concern to the Office are met without discrimination. This places an onus on offices to develop a thorough understanding of the circumstances of persons with disabilities under their care. This note provides staff with guidance on a range of issues to consider in meeting these responsibilities"

Journal articles

Disability and displacement

REFUGEE STUDIES CENTRE, UINVERSITY OF OXFORD
July 2010

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The 27 feature theme articles in this issue of Forced Migration Reveiw show why disabled people who have been displaced need particular consideration and highlight some of the initiatives taken (locally and at the global level) to change thinking and practices, so that their vulnerability is recognised, their voices heard, and responses are inclusive

Disability in displacement

SHIVJI, Aleema
2010

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This article presents information about the difficulties people with disabilities face before, during and after displacement. Key issues are described and examples of practical solutions are provided. This resource is useful for people interested in disability and displacement
Forced migration review, Issue 35

Vulnerability and disability in Darfur

KETT, Maria
TRANI, Jean-François
2010

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This article presents the increased difficulties persons with disabilities face throughout the displacement process as highlighted in focus group discussions in IDP camps in western Darfur. It also features information about disability in international standards and guidelines, as well as future challenges
Forced Migration Review, Issue 35

Websites

People with disabilities

UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES (UNHCR)

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This section of UNHCR's website features their work with the refugee community to identify and address issues faced by people with disabilities and to develop targeted actions. Related links and information resources are provided. This website is useful to people interested in disability and displacement