Evaluation of approaches to disability and rehabilitation, in the context of Somali refugees in Kenya

Author: Siyat Hillow Abdi

Abdi, Siyat Hillow, 2008 Evaluation of approaches to disability and rehabilitation, in the context of Somali refugees in Kenya, Flinders University, School of Medicine

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There is international concern over the refugee increase in many parts of the world and the international community is bearing the responsibility of assisting refugees with relief, rehabilitation, integration and possible repatriation programs. This has created unprecedented challenges for the international community since the amount of assistance has had to increase and resources have had to be diverted from development programs in countries with serious economic and social problems. The current study addressed important issues related to refugees with disabilities living in the Dadaab Refugee Camp Complexes in Kenya. After a pilot study to investigate the feasibility of the major study, 200 individuals with a disability were interviewed, and focus group discussions were held with individuals and groups supporting people with disabilities. The study was guided by the following research objectives: 1. To determine the prevalence of disability among Somali refugees and clarify the concept of disability as it relates to the Somali community; 2. To identify and discuss the nature and the causes of disability among the Somali refugees in Kenya; 3. To gain a picture of the basic needs, aspirations, and challenges of Somali refugees with a disability; 4. To examine and evaluate the prevailing educational and rehabilitation approaches to disability in the context of Somali refugees in Kenya; and 5. To develop a framework for a comprehensive approach to community rehabilitation relevant to refugees with a disability in Kenya. The research found that, while war in Somalia and related factors have contributed significantly to disability amongst members of the Somali community, cultural mindsets perpetuate disability and undermine the existing efforts to alleviate the conditions that people experience. Education and rehabilitation, which would be viable means of addressing the issues associated with disability, are inadequate in the refugee camps. The study acknowledges the efforts made by international agencies to help and support people with disabilities. However, it notes that more needs to be done if the Somali refugees with disability are to live dignified and functional human lives. This study draws the following conclusions: • Although war in Somalia is, reportedly, the main actual cause of disability among the Somali refugees in the Dadaab camps in Kenya, culturally, curses are considered to have led to disabilities by major sections of the Somali community. • The concept of disability as culturally and socially constructed is inadequate. Consequently, in order to address disability effectively, these cultural constructions need to be carefully evaluated and transformed. • The current efforts aimed at assisting refugees with disability are commendable but there is a need to improve the educational and rehabilitation approaches used to provide services to refugees with disability. The community rehabilitation approach would seem to offer the best opportunities for assisting to engage and support the empowerment and acceptance of refugees with disabilities.

Keywords: disability,refugees,Somalia,Kenya,Dadaab Camps,Community Rehabilitation

Subject: Disability Studies thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2008
School: School of Medicine
Supervisor: Dr Brian Matthews