Short Term Refugee Camps
Top Contributors - Naomi O'Reilly
The refugee population can live in different settings and conditions, they can be integrated in short terms or long terms refugees camps or they can be living in host communities (cities). Approximately 60 percent of the refugee population lives in cities instead of refugee camps, a proportion that has been stable since 2014. For example, Turkey currently hosts the largest urban refugee population, with the vast majority living in urban or peri-urban areas. 
Based on where the refugees are living and the period of they stay in the refugee camps, different rehabilitation strategies will have to be proposed.
- Short Term Refugee Camps
- Long Term Refugees Camps
- Host Communities
Refugee camps are temporary facilities built to provide immediate protection and assistance to people who have been forced to flee due to conflict, violence or persecution. While camps are not intended to provide permanent sustainable solutions, they offer a safe haven for refugees where they receive medical treatment, food, shelter, and other basic services during emergencies.
In some countries, refugees are only allowed to stay in the refugee camps for a short period of time. The objective is mainly to offer a short term secured environment to “at risk” population and to propose a transition phase between their entry to the country until their way back to their country of origin or their “integration” in the host community. In Colombia, for example, UNHCR estimate to more than 1,6 million the numbers of migrants and refugees. In the center (Integrated Assistance Centre) of Maicao, the Venezuelan mixed migrants can stay for a period of maximum 1 month in the transit camp. At risk families are prioritized (single mum, people with disabilities, elderly…) and are provided with accommodation, food, medical assessment, first aid, reestablishment of contact to family, psychosocial support, guidance and legal advice, rehabilitation care…
After the period of 1 month, the refugees and migrants receive unrestricted cash transfer to support them cover part of their basic needs for the first 6 months while they find the way to integrate into the host community.
- Specificities of the rehabilitation strategy: In those contexts of intervention, rehabilitation services -physical and mental health- if included in the package of intervention, are often provided by rehabilitation professionals hired either by local authorities or specialized agencies working in the camp. A big effort will be needed at the start of the project to recruit the required staff and to train them to the specific needs of the target population to ensure they will have the knowledge and skills required to attend the needs of this specific population. Ideally local rehabilitation professionals will be prioritized to promote the involvement of host population, as well as staff that can speak the language of the refugee population.
- Taking in consideration that a rehabilitation process often takes longer than 1 month, a mapping of local rehabilitación services will need to be done and agreement with those will be needed to ensure continuity of services for priority patients. For example, children with clubfeet treated by the Ponseti technique will require up to 6 weeks of casting to be changed weekly followed by the provision of braces and several months of follow up. This means that if the Ponseti treatment can start in the refugee camps, it will need to be continued and monitored outside of the camp by specialized rehabilitation services. The same is valid for some people presenting mental illness that require long term medication and that would need to be closely monitored by mental health professionals.
Taking into consideration the short period of stay, the objective of the rehabilitation process will be:
- To train mainstream agencies to identify people with existing functional imitation (a training on the use of the Washington group questionnaire can be proposed)
- To perform a quick assessment of the functional limitation by a rehabilitation professional and confirm the need to start a rehabilitation process
- To identify people presenting at risk of medical conditions (red flags) that prevent starting a rehabilitation process and refer them to a specialised medical facility
- To identify children at risk of impairment or at risk of development delay
- To provide adequate assistive devices to the people in need as well as information / education regarding the good use of their assistive device, it’s maintenance, how they can do basic repairs once they leave the center, where they can find a specialized services if they need complex repairs…
- To provide basic rehabilitation plan. The specificity of short terms camps is related to the fact that a limited number of rehabilitation sessions will be proposed. Most of the time a treatment plan of 4 to 5 individual sessions will be the average. Those can be complemented by group sessions to promote peer to peer exchanges. This means that:
- Patient and care-taker education will be one of the priority in order to ensure that basic rehabilitation activities can be pursued once leaving the camp;
- Referral to specialised external services will be promoted for condition who need a longer rehabilitation process or for people at risk of complications;
- Digital Rehabilitation (tele-rehabilitation) as a follow up modality can be proposed to user who have a telephone and who accept to be contacted once they leave the refugee camp. This may be an interesting modality to keep supporting people in needs of rehabilitation wherever they intend to go. In this case it is possible to follow up on how they are doing their exercises, provide additional advices, give them new exercises based on their evolution (with video explanations), answer to the questions they may have, refer to specialized service if needed…
- To provide information and education material related to their specific health conditions. For example the RehApp application can be showed and promoted https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nl.enablement.rehapp&hl=en_US. This type of material will support the person with disability and the caretaker to understand the condition and to better manage its needs and daily life activities.
- The rehapp provides community workers, professionals doing outreach, persons with disabilities and their caretakers with relevant information on Amputation, Burns, Clubfoot, Leprosy and Spinal Cord Injury (SCI). It supports the identification of (secondary) problems related to these disabilities and guides the design and provision of basic rehabilitation interventions, care and support and, when necessary, suggests referral. This prototype is anticipated to be the first in a series of apps, following the same structure, on the most prevailing types of disabilities in low-resource countries.