Communicability Global

  Dignity - Rights - Inclusion

Supporting refugee-survivors of gender-based violence who have a communication disability

Communicability Global, UNHCR (Rwanda), Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) and the Institute for Human Centered Design (USA) have been granted funding by the Humanitarian Innovation Fund to conduct preliminary investigations into the challenges faced by refugee-survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) who have communication difficulties in accessing health, legal and psychosocial support services. Communicability Global advisors Helen Barrett and Dr. Julie Marshall are leading on the project in Gihembe refugee camp, home to refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

The donor states:

"By their nature, communication disabilities make the reporting of SGBV challenging or impossible. UNHCR and other humanitarian stakeholders in Rwanda identified an urgent need for social models of support that involve sensitising and training front-line workers to increase awareness of, and sensitivity to, the particular issues of persons with communication disabilities in reporting, accessing legal redress and receiving psychosocial/medical and safety support.

This project has potential to support the further understanding of the intersectional nature of SGBV and the multifaceted vulnerability of persons with intersecting inequalities. The relative stability of the Rwandan context provides a good opportunity for exploration, and the results of the analysis may be able to be applied further afield.

A consortium will be developed to understand and describe the nature and size of the challenge of supporting GBV-survivors with communication disabilities in refugee contexts in Rwanda. Activities will include a literature search, a workshop, field visits and the elaboration of recommendations to develop adequate responses to ensure that, like others, persons with communication disabilities are able to disclose instances of GBV and benefit from equitable access to appropriate safety plans and psychosocial and medical services, thereby exercising their right to legal redress and support.

This project brings together a promising breadth of expertise  and experience:
  • Communication Disability and Development
  • Speech and Language therapy and disability/social inclusion
  • Operational SGBV experience
  • Inclusive Design"

(Humanitarian Innovation Fund, 2016)

This project is supported by Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund - a grant making facility supporting organisations and individuals to identify, nurture and share innovative and scalable solutions to the most pressing challenges facing effective humanitarian assistance.
- The Humanitarian Innovation Fund is a programme of Elrha and is funded by aid from the UK Government and the Swedish International DevelopmentAgency (SIDA).
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Visit for more information about Elrha’s work to improve humanitarian outcomes through research, innovation, and partnership.

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A literature review on understanding sexual and gender-based violence against refugees with communication disability, from a global perspecitve, was produced as part of this project and is now freely available here.