‘Disabled asylum seekers?… They don’t really exist’: The marginalisation of disabled asylum seekers in the UK and why it matters

YEO, Rebecca
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28 pp

This paper is based on a study conducted with disabled people seeking asylum in the UK, using art as a means to bring out and promote people’s key messages in public spaces. The findings suggest that people with these intersecting identities lack sufficient numbers, resources or allies to assert their needs and rights in statutory, nonstatutory or even peer support organisations in the UK. This results in such deprivation and isolation, that their very existence is often obscured. The paper argues that not only does such marginalisation cause unnecessary suffering among those directly affected, but also negatively impacts on the whole population. A hierarchy of entitlement may impede recognition of the causes and commonalities of oppression and therefore also hinder solidarity. Where reduced standards become acceptable for certain people, the imposition of similar standards on others is facilitated, particularly in the context of neo-liberal austerity. Many of the recent restrictions imposed on disabled citizens and other benefit recipients have been used on disabled asylum seekers for more than a decade. If, as Barbara Young Welke suggests (2010:156) the problem is systemic, then inclusion cannot be the solution. This paper concludes that systemic change is needed to end the differential ranking of people’s worth and to build greater solidarity.


Disability and the Global South (DGS), 2015, Vol. 2 No. 1

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