Hidden victims of the Syrian crisis: disabled, injured and older refugees

Hidden victims of the Syrian crisis: disabled, injured and older refugees

The Syrian crisis has generated the largest refugee movement since the Rwandan genocide. Within this refugee population older, disabled and injured refugees face specific challenges that contribute to their vulnerability, yet, studies of humanitarian programming show that these same groups are often neglected in the assessment, data collection, design and delivery of responses.

The findings of this work present a new and critical perspective on the position of the identified groups and the risks and vulnerabilities they face, with far-reaching consequences for the way current humanitarian responses are designed and delivered. As such, the report aims to contribute to the evidence base humanitarians use to design responses, and to support the delivery of inclusive activities which identify and respond to the needs of people with specific needs.

The study shows that of the Syrian refugees surveyed:

  • 30 per cent of refugees have specific needs: one in five refugees is affected by physical, sensory or intellectual impairment; one in seven is affected by chronic disease; and one in 20 suffers from injury, with nearly 80 per cent of these injuries resulting directly from the conflict
  • older people account for 10 per cent of refugees with specific needs, yet they make up 4-5 per cent of the surveyed refugee population meaning they are disproportionately affected; 77 per cent of older refugees surveyed have specific needs
  • refugees with and without specific needs have the same basic concerns – a lack of income, availability and quality of shelter, and access to basic healthcare, food and essential household items
  • the difficulties faced by those with specific needs in addressing basic concerns and accessing adequate levels of assistance have more severe consequences for their health and living conditions than the general refugee population