Behinderung und Entwicklungs­zusammen­arbeit e.V.

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Migration, Escape and Disability

There are different reasons why people leave their homes and move to another country or another region of their country.
One the one hand there are people who migrate searching new perspectives and a better future. But often they are forced by the bad economic situation at their home region.
Due to the cumbrous journey people with disability are rarely in the group of migrants who are on their way voluntarily - at least to some degree. But often the migrants do not know the health care system of their new homes and have difficulties to talk to the medical experts because they do not know the language very well. Because of that impairments can develop caused by absent medical attendance in case of illness or injuries.

Besides of these economic migrants, one the other hand there are people who are send fleeing by armed conflicts between states, civil wars or violation of human rights by repressive regimes. Natural disasters like floods or droughts are reasons of escape, too.
Especially in developing states, people are forced to flee in case of catastrophes because there are barely any public social protection systems. The 20% of the people in developing countries living with a disability have to flee as well in case of an emergency. However, in disaster zones the infrastructure is predominantly destroyed and people have to seek their way between the ruins. Often, refugees have to hide and therefore choose to pass rough terrain like mountains. This poses special difficulties for people whose mobility is limited. Hence, disabilities can worsen or even develop because of an escape.
People with disabilities are disadvantaged in refugee camps as well. In most cases, the camps are not barrier-free, that is why people with disabilities do not have access to sanitary facilities.
More information in edition 2/2002 of the “Journal for Disability and International Development” and in the publication “Migration, Flucht und Behinderung” (Migration, Escape and Disability) published by Cornelia Kauczor, Stefan Lorenzkowski and Musa Al Munaizel.
Both prints are available only in German, but there are abstracts in English in the journal.