Functional status and disability

Although the functional status of refugees at the emergency and long-term ends of the continuum of the refugee experience has received little attention, the significance of this traumatic outcome is beginning to emerge. Until recently, the standard operating model of refugee protection has not been asked to determine the long-term socio-economic damage caused by the refugee experience. The answer to this question is extremely important to the recovery of societies in which the majority of the population has been displaced. In many societies, the refugee experience is the majority experience, which has strong implications for future socio-economic development. While the prevalence of functional impairment and disability is unknown in refugee populations, a recent epidemiological study of Bosnian refugees in Croatia reveals that functional disability may, in fact, be extremely high, especially in elderly refugees. (l8) Furthermore, disability may be exacerbated in refugee survivors who have both chronic medical and psychiatric disorders.

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