- Disability — Asylum — Non-refoulement — Non-discrimination
This chapter evaluates the law and policy concerning persons with disabilities displaced as refugees, beginning with a broad survey of international legal and policy frameworks. It is accepted as axiomatic that events producing refugees are a major cause of death and disability in vulnerable human populations. Counterintuitively, however, statistical data collected by both national and United Nations agencies, including UNHCR, has traditionally identified only very small numbers of refugees as having disabilities. The supposition seems to have been that persons with disabilities are not able to travel and that these individuals are most likely to be left behind to perish or otherwise suffer the slings and arrows of fate and misfortune. Research in more recent times has revealed such assumptions about the mobility of refugees with disabilities to be patently false. The chapter then looks at the intersections between refugee law and human rights laws, examining how key elements of the definition of refugee should apply to persons with disabilities. It also addresses the procedural implications of requirements that ‘reasonable accommodations’ be made in status determinations and treatment of refugees with disabilities. Finally, the chapter comments on durable solutions for refugees with disabilities and the future impact of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on international refugee law and policy.
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