Get involved Vol 20, No. 09 - September 2016

Recognizing the status of refugees and migrants with disabilities

Around the world today, the number of people forcibly displaced from their homes due to war, violence and political oppression is higher than at any time since the Second World War. Although there is a current lack of comprehensive data, the Women’s Refugee Commission estimates that among them, roughly 6.7 million are persons with disabilities.

Those who live with a disability before, during or after events leading to forced displacement experience heightened risks and vulnerability. Migrants and refugees with disabilities face greater risks of experiencing violence, sexual and domestic abuse, exploitation, discrimination and exclusion from access to education, wage earning activity, legal documentation and other services than their non-disabled peers.

Additionally, displaced persons with disabilities are more likely to be overlooked during processes of humanitarian assistance due to physical, environmental, communication and societal barriers, according to UNHCR.

The international community has broadly recognized the importance of addressing the needs of persons with disabilities in the fields of human rights and development and has more recently extended this focus to persons with disabilities in the context of migration.

International frameworks, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, provide overarching guidance to respond to persons with disabilities in situations of forced displacement and protracted crises.

The recent World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 and the adoption of a Charter on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action demonstrate strengthened commitment by Governments and humanitarian actors to effectively respond to the needs and perspectives of persons with disabilities in forced displacement.

As protracted crises continue and intensify, it is essential that humanitarian and development actors develop systematic responses to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all relief and development policies, programmes and actions.

To get updates on the status of persons with disabilities around the world and to learn about the efforts of the UN in this area, sign up to receive the UN Enable Newsletter. Stay informed and get involved, promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities!

Photo credit: UNICEF/UN012728/Georgiev

For more information:

Refugees and migrants with disabilities

UN DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development – Disability

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