Humanitarian, Migrants and Refugees

This page features disability news on Humanitarian, Migrants and Refugees from the Debrief Library. See also news on other subjects.



Key principles and recommendations for inclusive cash and voucher assistance (Feb, Calp Network)

People with Disabilities in Humanitarian Emergencies and Situations of Risk a policy submission to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. (Feb, Human Rights Watch)

Included, Every Step of the Way Upholding the rights of migrant and displaced children with disabilities. (Feb, UNICEF)

Disability and Inclusion Survey by IOM of IDP sites in Montepuez (Jan, Relief Web)

IDA-UNHCR Strategic Collaboration in 2022: Key Steps Towards Inclusion and Participation. (Feb, IDA)

A review of evidence on disability inclusive Early Childhood Development and Education in Humanitarian Settings. (Jan, Institute of Development Studies)

Disability and Older Age Inclusion in Humanitarian Action: Innovation Catalogue. See also notes on its launching. (Dec, elrha)

Advancing disability-inclusive action on internal displacement. “This report represents a first step toward addressing the paucity of data on IDPs with disabilities.” (Dec, IDMC)

Discussion on inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian affairs with Ricardo Pla of UNHCHR, on Ukraine and beyond. (In Spanish, Oct, En Marcha)

Disabled refugee students included and visible in education. Case studies of challenges and opportunities in Uganda, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. (Sep, Disabled Refugees Included)

A scoping review of research on adolescents with disabilities’ experiences of COVID-19 and other humanitarian emergencies in low- and middle-income countries. (Sep, Global Health Action)

Around the world, refugees with disabilities face an uphill battle (Aug, Equal Times)

All Under One Roof: disability-inclusive shelter and settlements in emergencies. Technical guidance for inclusion to improve on how “post disaster shelter and settlement responses are invariably designed to provide standardised solutions to an affected community”. (May, Global Shelter Cluster)

Under the Radar: Surviving Wars With a Disability:

“I was like a double-burden to my mom. The pressure was so much that one day, she decided to get rid of me.” She threw him into a shallow body of water and was ready to move on. But Mauot’s sisters refused to leave him behind. They picked him up as he cried, until their mother relented.” (Jul, Pass Blue)

Inclusion and exclusion in humanitarian action: findings from a three-year study. A call to treat inclusion more holistically. Important reflections on a ”fragmentation of approaches”, and how it creates a siloed approach:

“In many cases, inclusion is still understood in categorical terms, focusing on specific groups of people or categories of need, such as gender, people with disabilities, people with diverse SOGIESC, religious and ethnic minorities, and beyond. This has a number of implications for how inclusion is operationalised in practice. First, seeing inclusion largely as a proliferation of different categories all requiring their own specific approaches has led to a sense of being overwhelmed and being asked to do too many things at once [... Also] it can have the unintended effect of creating hierarchies between different marginalised or vulnerable groups in terms of what or who gets prioritised. [.. . ] Breaking things down into categories can reduce inclusion to a question of ‘marketability’ in terms of what gets funded, with ‘women and girls’ competing with ‘older people’ [...] Absent altogether from these hierarchies are axes of inclusion that do not fall neatly into categories because they are not always identity-based or easily visible – such as race, social class or stigmatised occupations. In general, these aspects tend to lack the same kinds of communities of expertise and advocacy that have forcefully pushed for greater sensitivity to other aspects of inclusion over the years at both the global and response levels.” (Jul, ODI)

UNHCR 2021 report on Age, Gender and Diversity Accountability “2021 marked an important turning point in UNHCR’s work
on persons with disabilities.”:

“Enhanced reporting by operations allowed UNHCR to better capture the support provided to persons with disabilities. Cumulatively, UNHCR operations supported 479,815 persons with disabilities worldwide, including at least 7,615 children.” (Jun, UNHCR)

People with disabilities face 10-40% higher costs does Cash and Voucher Assistance account for this? “The way transfer values are calculated for people with disabilities must change” (May, Calp Network)

Statement Adopted by the Thematic Group on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Action for the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. (May, IDA)

More disasters, less inclusion: will transformation start in Bali? Calls from IDA for the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction to empower persons with disabilities. (May, PR Web)

IDMC 2022 Global Report on Internal Displacement includes a spotlight on displaced children with disabilities and promising practices. (May)

Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week Resources about Inclusion (May, HNPW)

Report on the role of Cash and Voucher Assistance in Increasing Equity and Inclusion for Girls and Children with Disabilities in Education in Emergencies. Report speaks to how this assistance “primarily addresses” the demand-side barriers to education in emergencies. (SDC and others)

UNHCR's Approach to Forcibly Displaced and Stateless Persons with Disabilities. Most of this brief describes the organization's approach to disability inclusion in general. (UNHCR)

Introductory video to the IASC Guidelines on inclusive humanitarian has been translated into Arabic, Bangla, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili, Ukrainian and Russian. (Apr, EDF)

CBM's Humanitarian Hands on Tool is now available in more languages including Ukrainian. (CBM)

International Rescue Committee UK: Step by step – our work to become inclusive. (Feb, EDF)

"No One is Spared" Report on Older People at Heightened Risk in Conflict. Including disturbing examples of violence. (Feb, Human Rights Watch)

December Newsletter from the Reference Group on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action (Dec, IDA)

An overall view on Aid policy trends to watch in 2022 Diversifying aid, its staff and its workplaces are one of the key themes to explore this year. The article puts this under the "decolonisation agenda" but there are many examples where genuine gains in diversity and inclusion are made without touching colonial dynamics. (Jan, The New Humanitarian)

Perhaps familiar to some of you, but this month I learned that physical rehabilitation centres are one of the ways that humanitarian impact bonds are being used. The idea of the impact bond is that you pay for results and they might be a means to secure different sources of funding. (Government Outcomes Lab)

Good to see these six reflections on Cash and Voucher Assistance in 2021 that shows the place of disability-inclusive cash assistance in a "patchy" shift to putting people at the centre of work. (Dec, CALP Network)


Cash assistance is a lifeline for older people: “many older people in Afghanistan have faced illness, disability, trauma and displacement from their homes, all of which can be barriers to accessing paid work and humanitarian support.” (Aug, DEC)

Taliban Takeover 1 year on: The situation is worse than ever and people with disabilities are the hardest hit. See more on the HI Kandahar Rehabilitation Centre. (Aug, Humanity and Inclusion)

Afghanistan Earthquake Response Overlooks People with Disabilities (Jul, Human Rights Watch)

Multi-sectoral needs assessments of Households with Disability “A significant proportion of households headed by a person with disability experience life-threatening circumstances and are in need of urgent life-saving humanitarian assistance to survive.” (Save the Children)

Helping the disabled in Afghanistan: rehab and assistive technology in centres staffed by people with physical disabilities (Dec, ICRC)


New report on OPD engagement in Humanitarian Action reflections from Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nepal. (May, CBM Global)


Small changes could bridge communication and cultural gaps for people from refugee backgrounds who need disability support. (Jul, the Conversation)

The association between chronic pain and pre-and-post migration experiences in resettled humanitarian refugee women residing in Australia. “Chronic pain was reported in 45% (n = 139) of women, and among these a further 66% (n = 120) also reported having a long-term disability or health condition that had lasted 12 months.” (May, BMC Public Health)


Short video of Tagari's Story from Cox’s Bazar. (Jan, CBM UK)

Threadbare disability support faces uncertain future in Bangladesh refugee camps. “The limited support available to Rohingya refugees with disabilities in the country’s sprawling camps is at risk as humanitarian budgets face cuts.” (Dec, UNHCR)

5 Years After The Genocide: Rohingya refugees’ needs are higher than ever. Report calls for international actors to pay more attention to needs of persons with disabilities. (Jul, MedGlobal)

Providing a dignified life for refugee children with disabilities. “In the Rohingya refugee camp, an accessible latrine is making a difference in Irfan’s life” (Jun, UNICEF)

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar visited the facilities at Bhasan Char island, where Rohingya refugees are to be relocated:

“Structures, including residential housing, appear well constructed and are considerably stronger and more durable than those in Cox’s Bazar. Unfortunately, accessibility for persons with disabilities was clearly not factored into the planning and construction process.” (Mar, OHCHR)

Tip sheet on inclusion in the Rohingya Refugee Response (Feb, Relief Web)

East Africa

An unreported crisis: experiencing worst drought in fifty years (Jun, Age International)

Webinar on Who Eats Last? The impact of Food Insecurity on People with Disabilities in the Horn of Africa. (Jun, IDA CRPD Forum)

Urgent action needed to stop famine and the annihilation of pastoralism in the Horn of Africa, older people warn (devastating testimonies). (Jun, HelpAge)


Scaling up humanitarian support for children with disabilities and their families. “UNICEF is expanding programming in IDP camps to provide services and support for children with disabilities and their families.” (Jan, UNICEF)

A rapid review of Disability inclusion for refugees in Ethiopia: an urgent need. One refugee from Jewi Camp, Gambella, said:

“The refugee camp is in rural area with harsh weather condition…It is extremely humid…. sitting on wheelchair for long time burned my back. It is very difficult to move around using wheelchair. In addition, the physical environment is not straight and flat to easily move round using wheelchair. I am sometimes trapped in ditches.” (May, Research and Evidence Facility)


Blind Syrian granted asylum, is allowed to stay in Germany (Jun, InfoMigrants)


It’s Time to Recognize the Leadership of Persons with Disabilities for Inclusive Humanitarian Response. (Aug, DRF)


Fact sheet on Accessible documents for persons with vision impairments and persons with low vision in Iraq. (May, IOM)


How a photo of a Syrian father and son led to a new life in Italy (photo shows father and son both with physical disabilities) (Feb, the Guardian)


Jordan’s sole refuge for people with disabilities risk closure as COVID-19 dries up donations (Jan, Global Voices)


Profile of Racheal Njiru and her work as a project manager at Kakuma refugee camp. (Aug, Inclusive Futures)

Supporting people with disabilities affected by the Kenya food crisis. (Sep, QAV Global)

Stories from the Kenya Drought see also the second and third stories. (Jul, CBM UK)

A fundraising appeal to support people in Kenya paying the devastating price for a climate crisis they have done nothing to create. (CBM UK)


Sudanese refugee with disabled son: 'UNHCR Libya does not answer my calls'. After a journey through Chad and Egypt they faced imprisonment in Libya and are searching for assistance. (Feb, InfoMigrants)


Addressing the needs of children with disabilities affected by emergencies. (Mar, UNICEF)

Cyclone recovery brings civil society and local government together to build inclusive society. (Oct, UNICEF)


Stories of being disabled and displaced from Sokoto and Zamfara. (Oct, ICIR Nigeria)


Afghan refugee removes obstacles barring kids with disabilities from school The Afgahn Refugee Disabled Union provides wheelchairs to help kids get to school. (Feb, UNHCHR)


The Humanitarian Needs and Priorities identified after Super Typhoon Rai includes mentions of persons with disabilities. (Dec, Relief Web)


Exclusive humanitarianism: Policy recommendations for genuine inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action. (Aug, International Review of the Red Cross)

study from IOM on disability inclusion in Internally Displaced People sites in Kismayo. Among other barriers:

"Access to information remains a critical barrier preventing persons with disabilities from accessing services within the IDP site and broader community. Door-to-door or shelter-level information engagement is recommended for all organizations providing support in IDP sites to ensure greater service knowledge of persons with disabilities" (Feb, Relief Web)

South Sudan

Towards a Disability-Inclusive Humanitarian Response in South Sudan? See also the full version. While "tangible progress is being made", "serious gaps and challenges to disability inclusion remain":

"Humanitarian organizations still do not recognize the diversity of disability and lack strategies to include persons with intellectual and psychosocial impairments. Moreover, persons with disabilities rarely participate in the project design phase and seldom contribute to programme development due to persisting attitudinal, environmental and institutional barriers. Furthermore, the Humanitarian Country Team in South Sudan has no systematic approach for the collection, analysis and use of either disability-disaggregated data or information on risks, capacities and unmet needs of persons with disabilities. This results in important information gaps on barriers to inclusion. In addition, communication barriers and lack of ‘reasonable accommodation’ in consultation meetings hinder the full and effective participation of persons with hearing, visual and other types of disabilities and make them dependent on family members and caregivers. " (links to pdfs, February, IFHV)


Children with Disabilities Left Unprotected report on the impact of armed conflict. “Most of the children included in this report were born just before or as the war started in 2011 and have not known a time without conflict, displacement, or difficulties in getting the services they need to grow and thrive.” And much as the international community spends billions in humanitarian response, people with disabilities “face systematic challenges in accessing humanitarian services on an equal basis with others.” (Sep, Human Rights Watch)

North-West Syria Protection Analysis Update June 2022 gives a disability prevalence of 32%, increasing to 39% for displaced persons. (link to pdf, Jun, Protection Sector)

Saeed’s smile: ‘Disability should never be a reason for exclusion’, and a description of a partnership with Sesame Street. (May, IRC)


Türkiye and Syria 3/17/2023 Update: “In the weeks since the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, government agencies have not made resources available to meet the needs of disabled survivors, and there are no policies that directly address their disability and accessibility related needs and support their inclusion throughout response, recovery, and reconstruction.” (Mar, WID)

Meet The 6 Disability-Led Organizations Responding To The Needs of People with Disabilities in Türkiye and Syria (Apr, Gadra)

Disability Inclusion Task Team (DITT) Tips on disability-inclusive emergency response (Earthquake) (Feb, UNHCR)

Iran amputee football team players dead in Turkey quake. (Feb, Tehran Times)

In Solidarity with Women, Girls, and Gender Minorities with Disabilities in Turkey and Syria. Context and call for “women and gender-diverse people with disabilities are included in response efforts”. (Feb, Women Enabled)

Protection & Education Needs of Refugees with Disabilities in Southeast Turkey. “Given the often complex needs of children with a disability, access to information about public services was cited by families as being of particular importance.” (Aug, Sened)

Turkish man sparks outrage for kicking 70-year-old Syrian refugee woman in the head (May, Stockholm Center for Freedom)

Protection Needs of Refugees with Disabilities Only one of the 300 research participants had a job; 9% had part-time work. (Jan, Relief Web)

United States

Refugees with Disabilities Struggle to Join the Workforce (May, Chicago Monitor)


Alarming new report on the dire situation for people with disabilities. 81% of those surveyed could not reach or use humanitarian services. Of the 300 local organizations providing disability services before the war, “only a fraction remain, with extremely limited capacity and resources”. One person interviewed said that:

“we simply cannot escape when explosions or armed clashes take place. This is a fear of every Yemeni, yet our limitations prevent us from being able to quickly get away from such hostile situations. It is a constant fear persons with disabilities in Yemen live with, and it’s holding us back from being able to do many things such as looking for sources of income.” (May, Humanity & Inclusion)



Empowering Disabled Refugees: Mustafa Rifat's experiences navigating the refugee resettlement process as a disabled refugee, and his concrete recommendations for resettlement agencies, disability services organizations, (Mar, Down to the Struts)

A Scoping Review of Needs and Barriers to Achieving A Livable Life among Refugees with Disabilities: Implications for Future Research, Practice, and Policy. (Dec, Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work)

For Many Disabled People, a Battle to Stay in Australia or New Zealand (Oct, New York Times)

Crossing the Border: How Disability Civil Rights Protections are “powerful tools for ensuring that disabled asylum-seekers have access to the protection and services they need in the U.S. immigration system.” (Aug, American Progress)

Migration data portal: Disability and human mobility (Feb, Migration Data Portal)

Data on disability and migration – what do we know? estimates of 12 million displaced persons around the world being disabled, and emerging practices on data. (Feb, Data 4 SDGs)

Disability-inclusive data in migration: How far have we come? (Jan, Migration Data Portal)


Perth family facing deportation as son's Down syndrome diagnosis deemed taxpayer burden. (Mar, ABC News)

Cairns family facing deportation “After living in Australia for more than a decade, a Korean couple is facing deportation because their son, who was born here, has autism.” (Nov, 9 News)

Bangladeshi refugee describes 'humiliating' treatment because of disability while detained on Nauru. (Oct, SBS News)

Migrants with disability are discriminated against with 'impossible' health requirements, advocacy groups say. “We're working with a young man who came to Australia as an asylum seeker and had a stroke. The federal government supports him to live in a nursing home, but they won’t allow him access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme to receive the support he needs to live a good life in the community.” (Apr, SBS News)


Migration has always been a disability justice issue. (Sep, Briarpatch)


Disability, Rehabilitation, and Assistive Technologies for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Italy: Policies and Challenges. “The lack of a standardized vulnerability assessment represents the main barrier to the organization of specific services for migrants within the community.” (Mar, Societies)

New Zealand

'Inhumane': The Government policy that deports disabled children (Nov, 1 News)

Girl, 12, denied residency because her autism does not meet 'acceptable standards of health'. (Apr, Sky)

New Zealand denies entry to autistic daughter of immigrant couple. “Rules do not allow people to move to New Zealand if they would impose a high cost to the health system”. (Apr, the Guardian)

Time to scrap ableist migration rules down under Áine, contributor to the Debrief, arguing for fair migration rules. (Apr, Overland)

Immigration policy discriminates against disabled “It’s become commonplace to read news stories about people with disabilities who have been denied New Zealand residency and face deportation.” (Mar, Stuff)

South Africa

A group evicts more than 200 people from a privately owned derelict building “which has been home to over 400 occupants — mostly migrants. Many are people living with disabilities and are wheelchair [users], while others are visually impaired.” (Dec, Daily Maverick)

United Kingdom

Vulnerable asylum seekers 'prisoners in their own homes' after fleeing war zones. “Many claim they have been placed in unsuitable properties that are littered with tripping hazards and have broken lifts.” (Feb, Mirror)

Jamaicans with disabilities facing ‘unjust’ deportation from UK. “Most of the Jamaicans facing deportation next week on a government flight live with a disability or health problem and came to Britain as children” (May, Independent)

Non-verbal black teenager who has never left UK detained at immigration centre. “Boy who went missing from hospital arrested and held at Gatwick facility after being wrongly recorded as Nigerian” (Apr, the Guardian)

A Mural on Disability and Migration bringing together the disabled movement and asylum sector. (Youtube, Dec, Disability Murals)

United States

U.S. removes Trump-era barriers to citizenship-test waivers for disabled immigrants (Oct, NPR)