From Bangladesh's 'Balukhali' camp accommodating droves of Rohingya Muslims to Greece's 'Moira', conditions on both sides of the world are known to be deplorable yet we never seem to take the time to consider how more difficult such an environment is for those who are disabled.

Disabled refugees are not being properly identified and are having problems accessing basic services, such as toilets, showers, food and medical care, a report by Human Rights Watch reveals.

How many disabled refugees are there?

There is no data as of yet to how many disabled refugees there are across the world as the United Nations themselves admit that it has historically overlooked disabled people in sub-groups of migrant workers with disabilities and refugees with disabilities.

What problems do they face?

Disabled refugees face varying hurdles.

Physical access to some places often becomes too difficult for disabled refugees. During their time in Greece's makeshift camps, Human Rights Watch recall an 85-year-old Syrian woman in a wheelchair told the group she had not showered in a month because she could not reach the facilities through the uneven, rocky terrain.

Similarly, eight-year-old Ali from Afghanistan, who uses a wheelchair, did not have access to an accessible toilet. Women would be offended when his father entered the female toilets while men would be offended when his mother entered the male toilets as both were needed to support Ali. They were then forced into the difficult decision of putting Ali in nappies.

There are also major problems with identification of those who are disabled, which is required for the Greek Reception and Identification Service (RIS) to provide for the reception of third-country nationals entering the islands under conditions that guarantee human rights and dignity in accordance with international standards.

It is also responsible for identifying and registering people who belong to vulnerable groups when they arrive, which should include people with disabilities.

An Iraqi couple in their twenties said that they were not allowed to register their disabilities because they did not have a medical certificate for proof, even though they visibly struggled to stand or walk.

However, those with invisible disabilities, such as intellectual or psychosocial disabilities, seem to face even further difficulty in getting access to the correct medical treatment or specialised care such as rehabilitation services or assistive devices. Those interviewed described prolonged delays in seeing a primary care physician in the camp, high transport costs to local hospitals, administrative barriers and lack of information, in particular.

The cold weather which refugees are exposed to is also said to affect respiratory and circulatory systems, and it becomes especially hard for some people with disabilities to maintain body heat.

Many other people with physical difficulties said that they rely on family members and friends to bring them food and drink, from the distribution sites because of the inaccessible terrain.

What measures need to be taken?

While families of people with disabilities play a massive supportive role, people with disabilities have an equal right to access facilities in the camps, independently and with dignity.

Clear guidance needs to be issued to field staff on identifying and registering people with disabilities, particularly disabilities that are not visibly identifiable. Additionally, the RIS and officials conducting asylum procedures should be trained on how to identify and respond appropriately to the needs of people with disabilities and to ensure access to services throughout the process. Furthermore, it should be disabled refugees themselves who should be consulted in these efforts, first and foremost.

Allocated funds should benefit all refugees without discrimination, including people with disabilities, following criticism that the Greek government and the UNHCR have failed to use the collective €495 million available to them.

The long-term goal, of course, is to get rid of refugee camps altogether and provide everyone with suitable accommodation in the community as current conditions are said to be deplorable. Living in the camps is also likely to exacerbate the trauma of displacement and increase other critical protection risks, including physical and sexual violence.