Publication: European Human Rights Report 3 - Migrants with disabilities (excerpt)

1 August 2019

European Human Rights report – issue 3’ is the third issue of our annual European Human Rights report Series focus on Ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities to equality and non-discrimination in the European Union. The report includes a review of equality frameworks in each EU Member State and a section on multiple and intersectional forms of discrimination. The following is an excerpt from Chapter 3: Multiple and intersectional discrimination:

Asylum seekers and migrants with disabilities are also particularly susceptible to intersectional discrimination. In the survey “Migrants, speak up” conducted by the European Network Against Racism, a migrant explained that there are no set infrastructures and policies to help migrants with disabilities.

One migrant with disabilities reported:

I need to have disability papers. However, in Germany no one cares about disabled migrants, no one questions whether you are disabled or healthy…They wrote that I am fit and healthy even though one of my feet and two toes on the other have been amputated.

Another comment indicates that migrants have not received proper support for their physical and psychosocial disabilities for as long as eight years:

I’ve been living in Greece for 8 years now. My situation is very bad. My mother and one of my brothers are disabled, while the other one is mentally ill. We need help. We live in a very hard state, with no health care and no proper roof to protect us.

The CRPD Committee specifically addressed the situation of refugees and asylum seekers when it reviewed the implementation of the CRPD by States Parties. It notes the importance of the accessibility of refugee status determination procedures, equal access to disability support schemes and benefits and incorporation of disability in refugee and asylum legislation.

Example of recommendations adopted by the CRPD Committee in relation to refugees and asylum seekers with disabilities in Cyprus

  1. The Committee is deeply concerned about the precarious situation of refugees and asylum-seeking persons with disabilities allowed by the State party and also notes with concern that refugee status determination procedures are not accessible. While noting the indication by the State party delegation that refugees with disabilities are entitled to the same disability support schemes and benefits — including wheelchairs, care and information — as Cypriot citizens with disabilities, the Committee also notes with concern that equal access to these support schemes and benefits is not available for all refugees and asylum seekers. Furthermore, the Committee notes with concern that, in the Refugees Law, refugees with disabilities are referred to as “persons with special needs”, a subcategory of “vulnerable persons”, which constitutes an approach that may hamper the application of a human rights-based approach.

  2. The Committee recommends that the State party: (A,) Ensure the accessibility of all refugee status determination procedures; (b) Ensure an adequate standard of living, including access to disability support schemes and allowances in law and in practice for all non-nationals with disabilities residing in the State party on an equal basis with Cypriot citizens; (c) Incorporate disability, and a human-rights-based approach to disability, in the Refugees Law and all other relevant refugee and asylum legislation, policies and programmes; (d) Ratify the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, and endorse the 2016 Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action.

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