The Wheeler Centre
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Never the Less: Disability, Displacement and Human Rights
More than a billion people live with some form of disability. That’s about 15% of the world's population and yet across the globe, people with disabilities face regular contraventions of their basic rights. These range from egregious abuses – such as being put in shackles – to basic barriers to education, employment, safety and inclusion.
'Having people around you think that you have no future … that's the challenge that people with disabilities face.'
In this conversation, presented in partnership with Human Rights Watch, we focus on some key issues and priorities relating to disability rights in the region and in conflict zones. Hear from Shantha Rau Barriga from Human Rights Watch, and from author and disability rights advocate Nujeen Mustafa. Nujeen's book, Nujeen: One Girl's Incredible Journey from War-torn Syria in a Wheelchair, tells the story of her extraordinary journey from Syria to Germany in a wheelchair – a journey she undertook in 2014 at the age of 16.
The pair discuss Nujeen’s personal story and speak more broadly on issues of displacement, detention, disability and human rights. Hosted by David Manne.
In January 2014, when Nujeen Mustafa was 16, she began a 5,600 kilometre journey from Syria to Germany in a steel wheelchair. She has since become a powerful advocate for the rights of refugees and for people with disabilities, sharing the harrowing story of her journey to move hearts and change policies. Mustafa was born with cerebral palsy, unable to walk without assistance. In her home city of Aleppo, Syria, she never attended school. She taught herself English by watching American soap operas.
Mustafa’s account was chronicled in a book co-authored by a British journalist and author, Christina Lamb, Nujeen: One Girl's Incredible Journey from War-torn Syria in a Wheelchair. Her persuasive speaking has also encouraged international disability reform efforts.
Shantha Rau Barriga is the founding director of the disability rights division at Human Rights Watch. She leads research and advocacy on human rights abuses against persons with disabilities worldwide including: the shackling of people with psychosocial disabilities, denial of education for children with disabilities, violence against women and girls with disabilities, institutionalisation of children and adults with disabilities, and the neglect of people with disabilities in humanitarian emergencies.
David Manne is a human rights lawyer and Executive Director of Refugee Legal (previously the Refugee & Immigration Legal Centre (RILC)). He has worked in various capacities assisting refugees and asylum seekers for over 20 years. In January 2001, he joined Refugee Legal, at the forefront of defending the rights, the dignity and the lives of asylum seekers, refugees and disadvantaged migrants.