Approximately ten percent of the world’s population is disabled to one degree or another. Consequently, some 700 million people throughout the world are persons with disabilities. While the recently adopted Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities signifies a significant step in recognising the special rights of this segment of an society, it is clear that both in legal and de facto terms, that persons with disabilities face extensive hardship and structural disadvantage in most societies of the modern world. And while the challenges in taking the rights of peoples with disabilities seriously are considerable within the context of economic development during times of peace and stability, persons with disabilities face even more severe deprivation of their rights as a result of conflict, disaster and climate change. And no group of persons with disabilities tends to suffer more greatly than disabled persons who are simultaneously displaced persons and refugees.
Historically, neither the relevant international organisations nor States have put in place the targeted legal protections and other measures required to ensure that the special needs and rights of displaced persons with disabilities are met in full. While discussions about the rights of disabled displaced persons has commenced at the international level – most recently in the form of a special edition of the leading journal Forced Migration Reviews new policies and programmes to fill the considerable protection gap for displaced persons with disabilities are not yet forthcoming.
The Disability and Displacement Initiative will attempt to close this gap through a series of carefully developed outputs designed to significantly raise the rights profile of this group, leading to concrete changes in the way by which displaced people with disabilities are treated during displacement.