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"

Chapter 11 : protection of persons with specific needs

THE CAMP MANAGEMENT PROJECT (CMP)
May 2008

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This chapter outlines the key issues of persons with specific needs in internally displaced persons(IDP) or refugee communities and provides practical recommendations for a camp management agencies
Published in Camp Management Toolkit by The Camp Management Project

Disabilities among refugees and conflict-affected populations

WOMEN'S COMMISSION FOR REFUGEE WOMEN AND CHILDREN
June 2008

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"This report is the culmination of a six-month project...to address the rights and needs of displaced persons with disabilities, with a particular focus on women (including older women), children and youth. Based on field research in five refugee situations, as well as global desk research, the Women’s Commission sought to map existing services for displaced persons with disabilities, identify gaps and good practices and make recommendations on how to improve services, protection and participation for displaced persons with disabilities"

Disabilities among refugees and conflict-affected populations : resource kit for field workers|Improving services for displaced persons with disabilities : lessons learned and ideas for action

WOMEN'S COMMISSION FOR REFUGEE WOMEN AND CHILDREN
June 2008

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This resource kit offers ..."practical ideas on how to improve services and protection for people with disabilities and enhance their inclusion and participation in community affairs. It is based on the findings of five country field studies, as well global desk research into other refugee and internally displaced persons programmes and an analysis of existing international policies and practices relating to displaced persons with disabilities. It would be useful to United Nations, non-governmental organisation, community-based organisation and disabled people's organisation field staff working with refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons with disabilities"

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

Disability inclusion : translating policy into practice in humanitarian action

PEARCE, Emma
March 2014

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This report “documents positive practices and ongoing challenges to promote disability inclusion across UNHCR’s and its partners’ work in multiple countries and multiple displacement contexts. The report provides lessons and recommendations for other organizations and the wider humanitarian community on engaging persons with disabilities at all levels of humanitarian work. It draws on consultations with over 700 displaced persons, including persons with disabilities, their families, and humanitarian staff, in eight countries”

Note: This report is also offered in plain text format

Disability inclusion in the Syrian refugee response in Lebanon

PEARCE, Emma
July 2013

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This report presents the key findings and recommendations from a four-week field assessment conducted by the Women's refugee Commission in Spring 2013 in northern and eastern Lebanon. Key findings are shared about the situation of Syrian refugees with disabilities, and recommendations are provided to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and partners.

Education in emergencies : including everyone

PINNOCK, Helen
February 2009

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The guide outlines useful principles for an inclusive emergency education approach, provides advice for strategies and actions at key stages of an emergency, offers advice on dealing with challenges, and highlights what support emergencies' education staff should expect from their organisations. It is aimed at anyone working to provide, manage or support education services in emergencies, and complements the INEE Minimum Standards for Education in Emergencies, Chronic Crises and Early Reconstruction

Final report|Support to UNHCR and the protection cluster working group : internally displaced persons with disabilities

LENTZ, Kirsten L
2009

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This report presents information to "enrich the overall understanding of the protection risks and needs of internally displaced persons (IDP) with disabilities as well as the steps required to enhance the response of UNHCR and the PCWG partners for IDP with disabilities." The report outlines specific expected outputs and performance targets at both the global and field levels to support the inclusion of IDP with disabilities. This report would be of interest to agencies, organisations, policy makers and practitioners who work with IDPs with disabilities

For a UNHCR executive committee conclusion on disability

INTERNATIONAL DISABILITY AND DEVELOPMENT CONSORTIUM (IDDC)
et al
June 2009

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The paper highlights identified gaps and issues regarding specific protection and concerns of people with disabilities in emergency situations. Detailed priority measures are recommended for all stakeholders providing assistance to refugees and displaced persons to provide full access to assistance and protection to persons with disabilities in the design, implementation and monitoring of their programmes

From the perspective of vulnerable persons, persons with injuries/disabilities, and older persons in the current IDP crisis in pakistan : participatory rapid need assessment report

KHIZAI, Dawood Ali
2009

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"Handicap International conducted a Participatory Rapid needs Assessment from 17-20 May 2009 focusing specifically on vulnerability at both the camp and host community levels. The assessment sought to map: opportunities for vulnerability and disability to be mainstreamed within the IDP response, recognition of vulnerability as an issue at the cluster level, accessibility of existing services and goods to vulnerable people, service delivery gaps related to disability and vulnerability and to explore the specific needs of persons with disabilities who are now IDPs"

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"

Refugees and persons of concern with disabilities : in support of a 2010 ExCom conclusion

INTERNATIONAL DISABILITY ALLIANCE (IDA)
2010

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This paper provides general information about people with disabilities, and then outlines an executive committee (ExCom) conclusion which provides an overview of the commitment of ExCom member States and UNHCR to refugees and displaced people with disabilities. Six key issues are described and the ExCom conclusions highlighted. This paper is useful to anyone interested in refugees and displaced people with disabilities

Refugees with disabilities

WOMEN’S REFUGEE COMMISSION
2009

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This report provides an overview of the findings of a six month research project initiated by the Women’s Refugee Commission about the situation of refugees with disabilities in five countries. The research identified gaps and good practices and made concrete recommendations on how to improve services, protection and participation. The next steps for phase two are highlighted. This resource is useful for people interested in refugees with disabilities

Sphere guidelines : humanitarian charter and minimum standards in humanitarian response|3rd Ed

THE SPHERE PROJECT
2011

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This handbook establishes shared principles and a set of universal minimum standards in core areas of humanitarian response. It provides a new chapter on protection principles, which considers the protection and safety of populations affected by disaster or armed conflict as an integral part of humanitarian response. It describes core standards for effective and accountable humanitarian response and advocacy, and outlines the minimum standards in the following four technical chapters: water supply, sanitation and hygiene promotion; food security and nutrition; shelter, settlement and non-food items; and health action. Each minimum standard highlights key actions, key indicators and guidance notes
This edition also addresses emerging issues, such as climate change, disaster risk reduction, early recovery of services and livelihoods, cash transfers, and civil-military relations. Understanding and supporting local responses to disaster is a priority reflected in the whole handbook, as is reinforcing the capacity of local actors
This handbook is useful to all working in humanitarian response

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

Disability, displacement and public health : a vision for Haiti

WOLBRING, Gregor
2011

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This article "highlights the situation of people with disabilities displaced by natural disasters, with a particular focus on Haiti which on January 12, 2010 was hit by a catastrophic earthquake of magnitude seven on the Richter scale. The article explores the opportunity for developing a series of best practices with regards to displaced people with disabilities in Haiti - practices that might be applicable to other natural disasters in the future"
Canadian Journal of Public Health, Vol 102, No 2

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

Disabilities among refugees

WOMEN'S REFUGEE COMMISSION

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This website section provides information about disabilities among refugees. It highlights general information, statistics and recent publications. This resource is useful to anyone interested in disabilities and refugees

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