[JURIST] Disabled refugees in Greece are not given access to adequate living conditions and medical care, reported [report] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] Wednesday. Although the EU has provided significant funding to the Greek government, the UN and nongovernmental agencies, most disabled migrants on the eastern Aegean islands are reportedly unable to access basic services such as shelter, sanitation and medical care. One wheelchair-bound woman interviewed by HRW had not been able to take a shower in a month. According to Shantha Rau Barriga, disability rights director at HRW, “people with disabilities are being overlooked in getting basic services, even though they are among the refugees and migrants most at-risk.” The UN refugee agency told HRW that there are no programs specifically targeting the needs of disabled refugees. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [text], to which Greece became a party in 2012, Greece has a duty “to ensure equal access to basic services such as sanitation, housing, schools, and medical facilities in the camps, including in emergency situations [and] failure to do so is a form of discrimination.”
The rights of refugee and migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issues around the world. In November, experts questioned humanitarian conditions at Grecian migrant camps when a 66-year-old woman and six-year-old boy died [JURIST report] in a camp fire. In April several aid organizations urged [JURIST report] EU leaders to stop deportations of migrants from Greece to Turkey and to stop detaining asylum seekers. Also in April Human Rights Watch reported [JURIST report] that the first deportation of 66 people from the Greek island of Chios to Turkey was “riddled with an array of irregularities.” In April UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged [JURIST report] world leaders to accept more refugees and to combat the growing international anti-refugee sentiments. That same month, an independent UN human rights expert encouraged EU leaders to remain steadfast [JURIST report] in their obligations to handle the recent influx of migrants to the EU.