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The power of inclusion- Mapping the Protection Responses for Persons with Disabilities Among Refugees in the Middle East and North Africa Region

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Executive Summary

The aim of the exploratory mapping is to facilitate an improved understanding of the extent to which the current refugee

protection response serves persons with disabilities. It establishes a preliminary baseline to inform future strategic and operational planning. The report maps the protection responses to persons with disabilities across 15 countries 2 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and Turkey.
Refugees and asylum seekers with disabilities face multiple and intersecting forms of disadvantages, are at significant risk of being ‘left behind’ 3 and are prevented from realising their full rights under a range of international instruments. A large majority of the refugees and asylum seekers in the MENA region and Turkey are in situations of protracted displacement.
The multiple and intersecting forms of disadvantages experienced by persons with disabilities require a coordinated, systematic and sustained approach which builds the response capacity and strengthens the national systems to support all persons with disabilities, regardless of status. The mapping documents the current refugee protection response to persons with disabilities through the dual lens of human rights mainly, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the global sustainable development agenda.

All the countries that are part of this study have signed the UNCRPD. As per this convention, the national legal framework is robust, but policies and practices are fragmented and weak. The Article 31 of UNCRPD commits .
The lack of statistical information has hindered data driven planning related to persons with disabilities, and as a consequence, also implementation, monitoring, and disaggregated reporting. Humanitarian planning do not explicitly cite persons with disabilities as a category for support, and do not include disaggregated indicators and targets.

Refugee children with disabilities are not realising their right to education. The lack of quantitative data is preventing the evidence-based, systematic and largescale advocacy, programming and fundraising required to address this tragic situation of out-of-school children with disabilities.

The UNHCR community-based protection approach aims to empower communities and increase the participation of marginalized groups including the persons with disabilities. The current social and community initiatives provide an ideal platform for participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities, while also addressing specific issues such as low confidence and societal stigma.

When these are addressed through social engagement, it facilitates the transition to education, health and livelihood opportunities. Conversely, social isolation increases risks of violence, exploitation and abuse.
In contexts where equal access to wage employment is difficult for persons with disabilities due to stigma, discrimination and inaccessible work environments, cash assistance where combined with other protection interventions provides an important social protection mechanism. The comparative independence that comes with social protection systems in some countries is missing in the refugee context.

The protection response for persons with disabilities is multifaceted and requires humanitarian, development and host government entities to coordinate and collaborate. Strategic and systematic expansion of partnerships could serve to increase advocacy efforts, improve referral and support options, and ensure the most efficient use of limited funding by leveraging each actor’s specialist expertise and vested interests. In the context of refugee situation, partnerships with Disabled People’s Organisations and specialized national-level entities is vital to achieving the required scope and scale.