Social Protection and Migrants with Disabilities

Persons with disabilities are at a higher risk of exclusion compared to other people. They are more at risk to live in poverty, because of less access to employment and disability-related extra costs.

In the domain of social protection, persons with disabilities have been historically considered as a part of the population in need of care and assistance. This responds to the medical and charity models of disability, whereby persons with disabilities are not seen as agents of development but as objects of protection. To adequately end poverty for persons with disabilities, social protection systems must adopt a human rights-based approach anchored in the CRPD, which implies a shift – from focusing on minimal income replacement, related to incapacity to work – to focusing on ensuring support for inclusion and participation.

Migrants with disabilities face additional barriers. In countries where social protection is provided to persons with disabilities, even on a limited basis or through services that are not CRPD compliant, these are generally not available to migrants with disabilities. States use different exclusionary clauses, like years of permanence, excluding largely children, or openly discriminatory exclusions for persons with disabilities. Xenophobic and ableist views tend to bring migrants with disabilities to a specific intersection of discrimination.

This lecture was organized by the nccr - on the move at the University of Neuchâtel.

Facundo Chávez Penillas is the Human Rights and Disability Advisor of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, based in Geneva.


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