Migration & refugees with disabilities

EDF calls on the European Union (EU) and its Members States to respond to the migration crisis with human rights based approach that puts people’s lives first. 

Human rights are for all people!

Europe has seen in the last one year the coming of more than one million persons fleeing war and persecution in other parts of the world. Refugees and asylum seekers with disabilities represent an invisible group of individuals who are forced to leave their countries in strongly disadvantaged situations.

Apart from the challenge to survive the journey, refugees and asylum seekers with disabilities encounter several barriers while being hosted in the hot spots and relief centers. They may face lack of accessibility to assistance and protection risks, lack of access to medical care and insufficient access to assistive technology which could make communication and mobility easier. Women, children, unaccompanied minors and older persons with disabilities face an even higher risk of being discriminated or excluded from receiving appropriate support.

The process of claiming asylum may also be very problematic for persons with disabilities. Refugees with intellectual disabilities may have difficulties in preparing interviews and collecting the necessary information to demonstrate the credibility of their claims. Refugees with hearing or physical impairments may need particular assistance to communicate or overcome architectural barriers.

EDF has repeatedly called on the European Union (EU) and its Members States to respond to the migration crisis with human rights based approach that puts people’s lives first. The EU should address the migration situation by providing a framework that is in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and the 1951 Refugee Convention. The CRPD enshrines a specific provision concerning situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies in article 11.

In September 2020, the European Union adopted a New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The Pact does not adequately include migrants and asylum seekers with disabilities. EDF calls the European Commission to ensure that the implementation of the Pact, and all legislative and policy proposals on migration and asylum include persons with disabilities and comply with the CRPD. 

EDF considers the cooperation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with the organisations of persons with disabilities as crucial in order to find ways to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities in the population of refugees and asylum seekers

EDF Policy recommendations

Toolkit on the inclusion of refugees with disabilities

The European Disability Forum is pleased to share the Toolkit on Inclusion of Refugees with Disabilities in 6 languages and International Sign. Published in February 2020, this toolkit includes information on international and European legal and policy frameworks, good practices, and recommendations to enhance inclusion and protection of refugees and migrants with disabilities. Designed in a consultative process lead by EDF, the toolkit provides information and practical suggestions specifically for Organizations of Persons with Disabilities to enhance their meaningful engagement in global and regional measures to protect and include refugees and migrants with disabilities.

The translation has been possible with financial support from UNICEF in the framework of a project implemented in partnership with the International Disability Alliance in close collaboration with the European Disability Forum. We would like to thank all individuals who supported the translation process including EDF and IDA staff who reviewed the translations.

This toolkit is available in English, International Sign Language, French, Hungarian, Greek, Italian, Turkish, Serbian, Spanish and Arabic. Click below to access. 

Toolkit on the inclusion of refugees with disabilities