Geneva – The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor conducted a study in cooperation with York University entitled “The Risks that Refugees with Disabilities Face in Turkey: How to Mitigate Risks and Challenges to Shape an Apt Humanitarian Responses”.
The study, which was published on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, addressed the risks that the refugees with disabilities face and disabilities they suffer from, including vision, hearing, ability to move, communication, language barrier, self-care, chronic diseases, effects and mental health.
Humanitarian assistance, food availability, water and sanitation, housing, health care services, rehabilitation, participation files, employment, income, education, vocational training and community integration were the main issues the study tackled.
The study established the fact that Turkey is known for hosting refugees who fled their war-torn countries such as Syrian, who constitute the vast majority of refugees in Turkey. The study stressed the need for the Turkish government to pay a close attention for refugees with disabilities to meet their needs.The study included multiple examples of refugees with disabilities in Turkey, the challenges they face, their living conditions, and their needs which, if met, will improve their lives.The study highlighted that upon the refugees’ arrival in Turkey, they found themselves facing a number of challenges such as health care. The healthcare problem should be addressed to provide solid support and favorable environment for refugees with disabilities.
The study demonstrated that disabilities are more prevalent among groups escaping conflict compared to the estimated 15% of the world’s population living with some form of disability. Persons with disabilities are among the most marginalized, excluded, and neglected of all displaced persons. In addition to that, isolation, caused by the loss of family members or caregivers, leaves persons with disabilities vulnerable to physical and sexual violence, exploitation, human trafficking, harassment, and discrimination.
The study showed that providing an inclusive environment for refugees with disabilities constitutes a heavy burden on any host country, such as Turkey, because it has to take new and appropriate measures and policies to help them carry out their lives, which requires providing special equipment in all facilities.
In general, refugees with disabilities suffer from lack of adequate care and social services. And since their families are in their countries of origin, they are likely to be lost when forced to leave their home countries, leaving them more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
The study concluded that the Turkish government and non-governmental organizations should take advanced humanitarian responses that include building a demographic map to identify refugees with disabilities, building more specialized health centers to help refugees suffering from mental health problems such as autism, and employing specialists to deal with such cases.
The study urged the Turkish government to provide free mental health services for refugees with disabilities, provide safe and quiet areas in camps where autistic refugees can live, and train cadres in the camps on how to communicate effectively with them, and increase the number of interpreters in refugee camps, especially in refugee camps near the border with Syria.
The study called for creating a camp or area specified to serve refugees with disabilities, in addition to developing sanitation facilities such as toilets, and granting refugees their right to move from one city to another.The study stressed the need to spread awareness-raising materials among the local population, especially in schools, to mobilize sympathy for refugees with disabilities.Euro-Med Monitor and York University called for legally protecting refugees with mobility problems in the rental agreement, and for Turkish NGOs to cooperate to developing a strategy to serve refugees with disabilities with regard to mental health and psychological support, and provide free psychological and mental counseling to relieve pressure on the health system in Turkey.