Since inception in 2011, the war in Syria has resulted in one of the most notable and protracted refugee crises of the modern age. Approximately 13.1 million people require humanitarian assistance in Syria, of whom 6.6 million are internally displaced. 5.4 million have been forced to flee the country, with the majority seeking asylum in the neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.
Turkey currently hosts 64% of all Syrian refugees, totaling more than 3.6 million (55% male, 45% female). This figure may be closer to 5 million, when including refugees without registered status. Of this population, half are children under the age of 18.
© Rachel Elkind / RI
Evidence suggests that refugee populations are at an increased risk of disability, especially mental health issues.
Refugees (including children and adolescents) are at an elevated risk of common mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Refugees may also be at a higher risk for other types of disability, as a result of conflict-related injuries, poverty, and barriers to accessing healthcare and other support services. The loss or damage of assistive devices and breakdown in infrastructure and social structures, all common in situations of displacement, can also cause and/or exacerbate the experience of disability.
People with disabilities, which includes those with mental health disorders, are among the most marginalized and socially excluded in society; they are, on average, more likely to be poor than peers without disabilities, and face restrictions to participation in society, which may include reduced access to education and health care services.
There is insufficient data regarding the prevalence and lived experience of Syrian refugees with disabilities in Istanbul. This study aims to provide reliable data on disability and mental health, with which to inform service provision, policy, and advocacy.