Refugees, education and disability. A Need to Build Back Better

When we speak of the challenge of refugees and forced migrants from the middle east, it is difficult to comprehend the scale of the issue. Estimates suggest that there are some 15 million Arabic speaking refugees and internally displaced persons currently. It is suggested that the average duration of major refugee situations has increased from 9 years in 1993 to 17 years in 2003 (UNHCR). This figure is probably now out dated and the length of displacement is increasing year on year. Forced migration is the new norm in terms of mass dislocations of populations, and well-over 50% of these populations are under the age of 20. When such movement of people occurs, there is much that is done to deal with the immediate humanitarian needs such as food, clothing and shelter. Education has also entered into the humanitarian response, not only as a need but also as a right. Many crises get compounded and remain for many years blurring the line between humanitarian and development. So as time passes we increasingly see new needs emerging not just for education but also social care and employment. For those with a disability, however, there are many additional challenges to overcome.