UNRWA is committed to recognising the needs of Palestine refugees with disabilities in and through its programmes and activities, and in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
A person is defined as having a disability if they live with a long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which, in interaction with various attitudinal and environmental barriers, hinders their full participation in society on an equal basis with others.
The overall number of Palestine refugees with disabilities is unknown. Adopting a conservative estimate, say one in 20, would mean that over a quarter of a million individuals, of the total 5.1 million people registered to receive UNRWA services in 2012, have a disability. Indeed, it is highly likely to approach half a million, or 10 per cent, of the refugee population.
UNRWA’s Disability Policy aims to promote the rights of refugees with disabilities and their inclusion in the Agency‘s work. Our education, health and relief and social services programmes approach disability in various ways, and we adopt international disability standards for the construction of new facilities and installations, such as schools and health clinics.
UNRWA is currently exploring ways of bringing more disability awareness into its service delivery, and to improve those practices that touch on the lives of people with disability and their families.
UNRWA‘s five field offices - in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan - have established various initiatives and practices that aim to support school students with disabilities. The Agency‘s new Inclusive Education Policy promotes a rights-based approach to education that appreciates the diversity of all children, and guides the development of more inclusive practices.
UNRWA delivers universal primary health care services. Preventative health measures, such as infant and early childhood screening and immunisation, are an important way of reducing the incidence of disability in Palestine refugee communities. Additionally for persons with disabilities, UNRWA‘s health care work provides assistive devices and medical procedures; in some areas, we also provide physiotherapy and mental health services.
Relief and social services
UNRWA‘s disability programme is implemented through 35 Community Based Rehabilitation Centres (CBRCs), which organise educational and outreach activities, and provide specialised services directly to adults and children with disabilities. This includes rehabilitation services, special education classes, assistive devices and home modifications.