Soe Meh* is a 26-year-old woman living in a refugee camp in Thailand with her six-month-old baby girl. She has a physical impairment and uses crutches to walk. It is difficult for Soe Meh to collect food supplies because the distribution point is far away, the roads are steep and rocky, and the containers are difficult to carry while using her crutches. She faces many challenges, even for seemingly simple activities like showering, cleaning the house and carrying things around. But she has learned how to cope and found support. “I really, really appreciate this [Women’s Refugee Commission] workshop, because…I had no one to meet and talk to—no chance like this. So I am very happy to be here to today.”
The World Health Organization estimates that 15 percent of any population is made up of persons with disabilities, with potentially higher proportions in communities that have fled war or natural disasters. Based on this, as many as 6.5 million of the world’s 43.51 million people displaced by conflict have disabilities.
People with disabilities are among the most hidden and neglected of all displaced people, excluded from or unable to access most aid programs because of physical and social barriers or because of negative attitudes and biases. They are often not identified when aid agencies and organizations collect data and assess needs during and after a humanitarian disaster. They are more likely to be forgotten when health and support services are provided. Often, refugees with disabilities are more isolated following their displacement than when they were in their home communities.
The Women’s Refugee Commission’s Disability Program seeks to advance the rights and dignity of refugees and displaced persons with disabilities through researching and advocating for initiatives that develop their capacity to lead full lives and to make meaningful contributions to their communities.
Read more about our work .
Find our Research and Resources on working with refugees and displaced people with disabilities.
*Name changed for anonymity.