Disabilities Inclusive Project: ”With the portable oxygen concentrator, I feel safe for the first time in a while”

The Project continues to offer support to refugees with disabilities

The main objective of the project is to facilitate the access of refugees and asylum seekers with disabilities and chronic diseases to the state social welfare system, providing them with supportive services. The project is implemented by the City of Athens through the Athens Development and Destination Management Agency (ADDMA) in close cooperation with the Migrant Integration Center (KEM) of the City of Athens with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Greece (UNHCR).

The population supported by the project, which also includes children, consists of people who live mainly in the greater Athens area and face long-term physical, mental, psychological or sensory problems that, after interaction with other factors, prevent their equal participation in social life .

A key pillar of the services is the individualized provision of support to refugees to complete the disability certification procedure and submit the application for disability allowance. Additionally, the beneficiaries, through a case by case approach, receive information and guidance on accessing the social welfare system, connecting with stakeholders that provide specialized services, interpretation and escort services, as well as necessary aid-equipment, such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, eyeglasses, etc..

“Refugees and asylum seekers with disabilities are one of the most vulnerable groups of the refugee population with special needs to support in order to ensure their dignified living. With the support of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the ‘Disabilities Inclusive’ project is here to strengthen the Migrant Integration Center of the City of Athens with human resources in order to provide quality services to those who really need them”, noted Melina Daskalaki, Special Advisor to the Mayor of Athens for Migrants and Refugees.

“More than 12 million people with disabilities have been forced to flee their homes due to persecution, violence and human rights violations around the world. Refugees with disabilities are often at higher risk of violence, discrimination and exploitation, face barriers to accessing basic services or are excluded from access to education, work and livelihoods opportunities. It is particularly important for UNHCR that through the ‘Disabilities Inclusive’ project in collaboration with the City of Athens we can facilitate the access of refugees with disabilities to basic rights and services by facilitating their integration in the local community.”, said Petros Mastakas, Protection Officer at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

In cooperation with smaller municipalities in Greece, it is planned to serve a number of people with disabilities from local communities. In this context, a young man from the Municipality of Zitsa with cerebral palsy received an electric wheelchair.

“With their immediate response and our excellent cooperation, the Migrant Integration Center of the City of Athens and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have been assisting the Municipality of Zitsa and fellow partners in the work of the Community Center with the aim of upgrading the quality of life, raising awareness and assistance towards disabled people and their smooth integration into the social fabric. In this context, we hope that this cooperation will continue”, said Christina Papadimitriou, Vice Mayor for Social Policy of the Municipality of Zitsa.

 People who have been supported by the project share their experience

“Thank you very much to the ‘Disabilities Inclusive’ project that gave my child the opportunity to be able to move. You have made our daily lives so much easier”, says I.S. from Ukraine, mother of a 13-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, who received a wheelchair through the project. The mother and her son came to Greece in May 2022.

“I would like to thank the social services of the Municipality of Zitsa as well as the City of Athens, who, with their cooperation offered my son and me a valuable gift that will improve his daily life regarding his mobility. For us, even simple things, like going for shopping, were a whole procedure. Now, moving around is easy and relaxing”, says the mother of the 22-year-old young man from the Municipality of Zitsa with cerebral palsy who also received an electric wheelchair.

“With the portable oxygen concentrator, I feel safe for the first time in a while. Before, I couldn’t be out of the house for more than 4 hours, as I was afraid that I would run out of oxygen. Now I can go to the supermarket and the Greek language courses that I’ve started”, says Vuvu, a 23-year-old asylum seeker from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who has been living in Greece for two years and suffers from chronic respiratory failure.

More information on the ‘Disabilities Inclusive’ project – Providing targeted support and assistance to asylum seekers and refugees with disabilities: https://www.accmr.gr/en/services/targeted-support-and-assistance-to-asylum-seekers-and-beneficiaries-of-international-protection-with-disabilities/https://www.accmr.gr/services/targeted-support-and-assistance-to-asylum-seekers-and-beneficiaries-of-international-protection-with-disabilities/