Migration & Refugees with Disabilities

Human rights are for all people!

Refugee camp in Lesvos, Greece

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