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UNHCR’s Special Projects for the Empowerment of Refugee women with disabilities WLL Women Leading Livelihoods Division of External Relations www.unhcr.org/wll.

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Presentation on theme: "UNHCR’s Special Projects for the Empowerment of Refugee women with disabilities WLL Women Leading Livelihoods Division of External Relations www.unhcr.org/wll."— Presentation transcript:

1 UNHCR’s Special Projects for the Empowerment of Refugee women with disabilities WLL Women Leading Livelihoods Division of External Relations

2 Scope Estimate 10% of world’s population living with disabilities
650 million+ persons with disabilities worldwide Women %50 of the human population Minimum 300 million women with disabilities worldwide, 240 million living in developing countries. Women with disabilities facing multiple discrimination #2) The percentage is actually probably higher for displaced persons. Where displaced persons have fled civil conflict and war, a higher proportion of the population may have suffered serious injuries or trauma due to fighting or landmine accidents, resulting in physical, mental or sensory impairments. #2) According to the 1996 United Nations study of the impact of armed conflict on children, armed conflicts in the previous decade caused over a million deaths of children in poor countries and, for every child killed, three were permanently impaired and many more psychologically impaired. #3) Health care and social support systems may be disrupted during conflict, depriving local populations, especially children, of essential preventative and curative medical care. This includes vaccinations, maternal care – resulting in disabilities from preventative and treatable diseases and conditions #4) Persons with disabilities are less able to flee. Persons with disabilities may be left behind when families flee – as people with physical, mental and sensory impairments may be less able to flee. At a residential home in Galle, Sri Lanka, for example, only 41 of the 102 residents managed to escape the building and survive the tsunami in Dec #5) Situation seldom improves once they have crossed a border or reached “safety.” Sadako Ogata, former UN high Commissioner for Refugees, said, “Disabled refugees face a double vulnerability – often the last to receive food, water, and care…and, in many situations, viewed as a burden to be left behind.” Photo: Angola landmine victim

3 Displacement and Women with Disabilities
Up to 3.5 million displaced people with disabilities With displaced women with a disability the number of effected circle gets doubled

4 Before Fleeing Persecution
The ratio of 1/10 gets much higher up to 1 / 5 in situations of civil conflict, natural disasters, wars…: Serious injuries (landmines, clusterbombs, natural disasters, wars) Disruptions to health care systems Disruptions to school/ social support systems Double discrimination in job market No skills training or employment opportunities for women with disabilities "I walked into the house with a big bag of wild thyme my father had picked. When I reached into the bag I saw a dark thing. It startled me. I dropped it and it blew up." says Rasha, a displaced cluster bomb victim in South Lebanon.

5 While Running Away for their right to life
People with disabilities may not survive the run for life Women with disabilities or with children / family members / husbands with disabilities get double restrained Often left behind Seen as a burden obstructing others’ flight Less able to flee / Locked away so can not run away Exposed to physical and sexual abuse during flight

6 Once displaced / a refugee…
It does not mean once disabled people become a refugee, they reach safety “Disabled refugees face a double vulnerability—often the last to receive food, water and care…and, in many situations, viewed as a burden to be left behind.” Sadako Ogata, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees Hidden, marginalized and socially excluded Literally and programmatically “invisible”

7 Refugee Women with Disabilities
Displaced women with disabilities are triply marginalized by status, disability and gender In most cultures, they are seen as a shame & a sin More exposed to sexual violence, domestic abuse and physical assault (ie. Afghan girl…) Women as primary caregivers face increased workloads, isolation, discrimination and abuse (ie. Iraqi Kurdish woman…) Mothers are blamed for child’s disability and face physical or sexual abuse and abandonment No information about rights or available services in the host countries No opportunities for livelihood A disabled refugee woman waiting for daily food ration

8 Background to UNHCR Projects
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Global Change from medical to social & inclusive human rights perspective New UNHCR Policies - both human resources as well as operational) Division of External Relations / Inclusion of disabilities in WLL projects with specific focus on empowerment & integration of refugee women with disabilities WLL being part of private sector partnerships (ie. WIN platfirm..) Incorporation of disability services to the existing programmes Some successful community based programmes once refugee women given a chance (ie. Saharawi Women with disabilities / senate...) Women with disabilities want to learn new skills and find jobs

9 Vision If we want to empower disability communities & support their self-sustained independence; Start with the most forgotten and vulnerable layer in refugee communities as One UN… Under WLL concrete projects for refugee women leading livelihoods, our ongoing talks with ILO and ready for more interagency partnership… Use all possible Interagency platforms such as CAF processes on certain humanitarian crisis (ie. Iraq…) Every Agency brings their expertise through an expert roster as well as funding… VISIT / WLL women leading livelihood projects page

10 Recommended Read & Refs
"Gendering the Convention" as per Disabled People's International –Canada- paper presented in Berlin last year UNHCR’s RefWorld website (UNHCR’s knowledge tool) UNHCR's New Policies (internal & operational), Women's Commission for Refugee Women & Children's assessment for UNHCR (7 pilot countries - June 2008) & the Resource Kit on "Disabilities Among Refugees and Conflict Affected Populations"


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