Among the millions of refugees, some groups are particularly vulnerable, including people having suffered trauma, injury or people with disabilities. According to a study by Handicap International and Help Age these groups amount to 30% of all refugees. Persons with disabilities face additional barriers to access humanitarian assistance in crisis situations, conflict and war.
People with disabilities are not a homogenous group they have different capacities and needs, and contribute in different ways to their communities. In times of crisis, they may be vulnerable to discrimination, exploitation and violence, and face numerous barriers to accessing humanitarian assistance.
One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability, and disability prevalence is higher for developing countries. One-fifth of the estimated global total, or between 110 million and 190 million people, experience significant disabilities.
Natural disasters, wars and other forms of human conflict have caused death and disabilities for as long as human beings have lived in society. Refugees living with disabilities are often forgotten or invisible during acute crises of human displacement. They suffer multiple disadvantage. Exiled from their countries of nationality or origin, they live without the protection that comes with citizenship of, or habitual residence in, a state
Europe has seen in the last one year the coming of more than one million persons fleeing war and persecution in other parts of the world. Apart from the challenge to survive the journey, refugees and asylum seekers with disabilities encounter several barriers while being hosted in the hot spots and relief centers.
They may face lack of accessibility to assistance and protection risks, lack of access to medical care and insufficient access to assistive technology which could make communication and mobility easier. Women, children, unaccompanied minors and older persons with disabilities face an even higher risk of being discriminated or excluded from receiving appropriate support.
More than 1.5 million Syrian people who are now living with permanent, war-related impairments including 86,000 whose injuries have led to amputations. Tens of thousands of them are children. An estimated 3.3 million children are exposed on a daily basis to explosive hazards including landmines, unexploded bombs and improvised explosive devices.
“In conflict, children with disabilities are among the most vulnerable,” Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said today at a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon.
Over 5.6 million Syrians are registered as refugees in neighboring countries. UNHCR data in four of those (Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon) show that 3.09 per cent of refugees live with disabilities. Inside Syria, there are an estimated 2.9 million people with disabilities in need of humanitarian assistance. In addition, 2 per cent of the refugee population are children with disabilities.