Refugees With Disabilities: Reflections on Turkey And The European Union


Author(s): Teoman AKPINAR* and Mehmet Emin ARSLAN

In the present day, the fact of migration has become an important issue that concerns almost the whole world. In many parts of the world and as a result of internal turmoil, wars, economic, political, and social turmoil, generally, in poor, underdeveloped, or developing countries, migration evolves into unpleasant scenes, particularly in the Middle East and in many other countries throughout the world. This situation shakes the countries both materially and morally. This article intends to study the individuals with disabilities who are forced to migrate and thus become refugees/asylum seekers/immigrants suffering from huge problems and the problems they encounter. Refugees with disabilities have many apparent and non-apparent problems, such as accommodation, exposure to discrimination, health and access to health services, employment, and education. Considering that even a healthy person would face many problems as a refugee, the problems of accommodation, nutrition, health, education, and employment increase exponentially for a person with a disability who becomes a refugee. Individuals with disabilities, who are already in need of care of others in many aspects during their everyday life, lose the right to live a decent life when they become refugees/immigrants/asylum seekers. This study examines mainly the problems of immigrants with disabilities in Türkiye as well as the standpoint of the world and the 

European Union with disabled immigrants. With the European Union norms and all international conventions, it has been recurrently stated that individuals with disabilities should be aided without discrimination on language, religion, race, gender, or citizenship/nationality. Sect to ensure these individuals are protected, treated equally with other individuals, and maintains their lives with dignity. Most of the studies performed on immigrants with disabilities, particularly those made in the European Union countries, express that official surveys and scientific studies on disabled immigrants are very few or insufficient. In this respect, it is not possible to state in this study that official, correct and valid figures can be adequately obtained with access to resources on immigrants with disabilities since they are not available. In many countries, adequate records, information, documents, and numerical data on immigrants with disabilities are not available or are incomplete. It has been observed that the data and resources on refugees with disabilities in the European Union are quite inadequate. This fact constituted the biggest limitation on the study. Accessible data, official figures and information are mostly obtained from disabled statistics and official sources in the EU and Turkiye. We endeavoured to review all literature that is relevant to our subject and accessible for us. Another matter that sounds interesting is that many studies conducted in the United States focused on the contribution of immigrants to the US economy and that immigration has been dealt with from this aspect. It is globally known that Turkiye has suffered a constant influx of immigrants due to its geographical location. Nowadays, Turkiye is the country hosting the maximum number of refugees throughout the world. Regarding the results of our study, education and school are out of reach for most immigrants living in Turkiye. Refugee children and youth do not go to school. Refugees with disabilities are not furnished with adequate information about non-governmental organizations that defend their rights. There are limited studies on handicapped immigrants in the world, in the European Union and Turkiye. Even though all international institutions in the world and their recommendations state that disabled refugees should be protected, these individuals cannot easily access shelter, health, education, employment and rehabilitation services. When these problems combined with the language barriers and financial hardships come in, the vast majority of disabled people have significant difficulties in coping with these problems. Based on these reasons, refugees are considered "unemployable" in terms of employment.

The most important point this study intends to emphasise is to attract attention to the necessity of employing at least certain number of the handicapped refugees in European countries so that the EU countries lend assistance to Turkiye regarding the employment of disabled refugees, so that these individuals will live and hold on to life in a decent way and the burden on Turkiye can be alleviated.


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