World Refugee Day

Alex Ghenis,Policy and Research Specialist,World Institute on Disability, alex@wid.org

Today, 6/20, is World Refugee Day, where we recognize the experience of refugees and commit to protecting their well-being. The United Nations has explained its importance on its website here http://www.un.org/en/events/refugeeday/. Today is certainly one that deserves recognition and work, and should be a call to action to support refugees worldwide.
Refugees with disabilities often face greater difficulty and discrimination throughout the conflict, displacement, migration and relocation process. Those difficulties include greater vulnerability to physical and sexual violence, troubles maintaining health care and social support, and finding accessible transit and accommodations through the migration process. Some refugees are even denied residency simply because they have a disability, leaving them in limbo and potentially separated from their support networks. But as with many situations, people with disabilities are under-recognized as a group that experiences excess difficulties, and one that needs specific support throughout difficult times. It is important for communities and decision-makers to be made aware of people with disabilities’ specific situations and needs – and to address them in a way that protects those refugees’ well-being.
If you are interested in more information about refugees with disabilities, and issues which affect their lives, please check out some of the following resources – and search around online. There are many specific resources, and they need to be brought into the mainstream even more.
UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) “People with Disabilities” page: http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/people-with-disabilities.html
UN Enable’s International norms and standards related to disability: focus on refugees http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/comp505.htm
Forced Migration Review (FMR) #35: Disability & Displacement – a 35-article, 60-page special publication on those displaced by conflict and other disasters. Http://www.fmreview.org/disability.html

… And of course, an online search for “refugee Disability” yields much more.
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