Disability and displacement

FMR 35
July 2010

It is not common practice to include people with disabilities among those who are considered as particularly vulnerable in disasters and displacement and who therefore require targeted response – yet statistics tell us that up to 10% of all displaced people will have a disability.

The 27 feature theme articles in this issue of FMR show why disabled people who are 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 made inclusive.

This issue also contains a mini-feature on Brazil and five general articles. It will be published in English, French, Arabic and Spanish, and the mini-feature on Brazil is also available in Portuguese (thanks to UNHCR Brazil).

Contents

Shuaib Chalklen
Aleema Shivji

People with disabilities face many additional difficulties before, during and after displacement but provision of appropriate assistance and protection for all is feasible.

Rachael Reilly

In 2007 the Women’s Refugee Commission launched a major research project to assess the situation for those living with disabilities among displaced and conflict-affected populations.

Kathleen B Simmons

The humanitarian relief community needs to collect disability-specific data through rapid needs assessments, registration processes, accessing local knowledge and disability monitoring. 

Maria Kett and Jean-Francois Trani

The difficulties faced by persons with disabilities throughout the displacement process contribute to their increased vulnerability.

Francesca Bombi

An assessment conducted in Sri Lanka in 2008 revealed that displaced people with disabilities were extremely vulnerable to protection incidents and their vulnerability was increased by their lack of voice.

Gulu Disabled Persons Union

"People with disability live in families and live in communities. We cannot be separated from society.” Simon Ong’om, Chairperson of the Gulu Disabled Persons Union (GDPU)

Devon Cone

Among the greatest protection risks facing refugees with disabilities in Dadaab are discrimination and stigmatisation.

Menbere Dawit with the Kakuma Syndicate Disabled Group

In the face of continuing funding cuts to programmes, residents and staff in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya have had to find new ways to support persons with disabilities.

Sam Duerden

When does war end and peace begin? When a peace accord is signed? When the intervention forces leave and those responsible are put on trial? Or when civilians can return home and resume their livelihoods?

Cassandra Phillips, Steve Estey and Mary Ennis

While various international instruments are in place to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, knowledge of these at a grassroots level is limited. At the same time, holding governments that have signed or ratified some of these mechanisms accountable is no easy task, especially in times of disaster.

Rowan Saker

The New Zealand government accepts refugees with disabilities and has established structures and partnerships to facilitate their participation in society.

Celia Brandon and Candy Smith

New Zealand welcomes refugees with disabilities – but how well are they supported after arrival?

Neil Amas and Jacob Lagnado

Small, refugee-led community organisations are disproportionately taking the strain for supporting London’s disabled asylum seekers and refugees.

Ana Beduschi-Orti

With regard to the reception of asylum seekers in the European Union, provisions for the protection of people with disabilities are found in a wide range of regulatory sources.

Mansha Mirza

Over the past few decades there have been some positive (albeit inconsistent) changes in US refugee admissions policy as well as in UNHCR’s guidelines for resettlement, especially relating to refugees with disabilities. 

Rooshey Hasnain

Although refugees who enter the United States are encouraged to integrate into American life, many struggle to navigate the country’s service delivery system, especially those with disabilities.

Helen Pinnock and Marian Hodgkin
Aisha M Saeed

Assessing the needs of refugees and asylum seekers with disabilities has traditionally been much neglected in refugee assistance programmes. Assessments in Yemen have highlighted shortcomings in service provision and enabled local actors to prioritise accordingly.

Adele Perry and Anne Hery

The cluster system offers space for raising awareness among humanitarian actors and for putting disability on the agenda, but it impairs local and cross-cutting dynamics at field level.

Valerie Scherrer and Roshan Mendis

In providing effective assistance to displaced people with disabilities in Sri Lanka, partnerships and negotiating skills have proved essential.

Munazza Gillani, Mohammad Bilal Chaudhry and Niazullah Khan

An inclusive approach to water and sanitation provision can facilitate good hygiene behaviour, improve self-reliance and reduce the prevalence of many preventable diseases.

Safak Pavey

In May 2007 UNHCR  established an internal working group to look at developing in-house policies for people with disabilities both for the benefit of people of concern to us and for staff members.

Brendan Joyce

Why support UNHCR’s proposed ExCom Conclusion on Disability?

General articles

Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response

The hardest aspect of accountability to disaster-affected persons seems to be managing the tensions between the timeliness and the quality of a response.

John Giammatteo

The views of Sri Lankan refugees in India challenge some of the assumptions inherent in promoting repatriation as the most desirable durable solution to protracted displacement.

Shanon McNab and Isabella Atieno

Despite the administrative, logistical, political and cultural challenges of working in Darfur, the Gereida Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care Centre has made significant progress in a short time.

Katy Long and Jeff Crisp

There is growing recognition that refugees’ mobility is a positive asset that can contribute to their lasting protection.

Elizabeth Ferris

Preparing for, responding to and recovering from natural disasters is as much about human rights as about delivery of relief items and logistics. 

Additional articles

Luiz Paulo Teles Ferreira Barreto and Renato Zerbini Ribeiro Leão

The Declaration of Cartagena is important as it includes elements that link the three threads of international protection – humanitarian law, human rights and the rights of refugees – in legislation, interpretation and operation.

Liliana Lyra Jubilut

Recent initiatives in Brazil have strengthened protection and enhanced integration opportunities for refugees.

Julia Bertino Moreira and Rosana Baeninger

Local integration is a complex economic, political, social and cultural process.

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Opinions in FMR do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors, the Refugee Studies Centre or the University of Oxford.
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