Protest: Somali refugees take to roads

Published: January 14, 2011
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Somali refugees have vowed to continue their protests until they get their “rights”. PHOTO: THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE

Somali refugees have vowed to continue their protests until they get their “rights”. PHOTO: THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE

ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of Somali refugees, mainly women and children, assembled in front of Social and Assistance Centre (SACH) in Islamabad on Thursday and protested against what they described as injustice, deliberate negligence, and discrimination against them.

They held placards and chanted slogans, urging United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to intervene.

“Our needs of protection, education, healthcare and asylum are still unresolved,” they said through their placards.

The Somalis were seeking to be recognised as refugees and given the same rights as refugees from Iran and Afghanistan. They said they want basic education, vocational training, and access to adequate health facilities, financial assistance, enough protection and resettlement.

Abdul Rehman, the chairperson of the Somali community in Pakistan, said, “I talked to UNHCR and its agent agency SACH to do more [for us] but nothing tangible has happened.” He added that they will continue to protest until their demands are met.

Most Somali refugees interviewed said their lives in Pakistan were not good. A mother of three, asking not to be named, said, “All of my children were born here. But I have nothing to feed them. I do not have enough support and can’t even go back.”

“We are not considered refugees when we approach SACH offices,” said another woman, with her two children beside her.”Constant abuse from SACH workers has become a routine.”

Somalia does not have a national government, 50 years after gaining independence. Much of the war-torn country has been involved in political chaos and inter-clan fighting, resulting in widespread death and starvation.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Jan 15, 2011 - 10:35AM

    Dear somali citizen please back to your a country instead demanding sylum western country,
    I hope part of somalia is bathher then pakistan and western country. Iam inssure you puntland state of somalia is more secure karack and NWFP north province of pakistan, If you educated personals you search some opportunity earned enought fund you fullfil your basic need. I like pakistan, but now go on like somalia, so be cerefull sefety instead thinngs about exlpore new better then live. I can tell UNCHR will not given any things alse loss your time.Recommend

  • Hassan
    Jan 15, 2011 - 12:11PM

    The main problem of Somali refugees living here in Pakistan is lack of unity. We are divided into groups based on tribal affiliations and every group want to forward to UNHCR office a list of refugees containing of their community (tribe) members only for considerations of humanitarian assistance like health care, education, financial assistance, resettlement and so on. Therefore, UNHCR office in Islamabad (Pakistan) would not entertain their claims because they can not lined up with a particular group.
    If UNHCR supports only this group’s claims and ignore other Somali refugees who are living in Pakistan, it will be another injustice, negligence and biased. Thus it will lead into a bloodshed conflict within Somali refugees.

    As a Somali member, I believe that we can solve our problems through dialogue in peaceful means and unity.

    Thank you. Recommend

  • Jamal
    Jan 16, 2011 - 12:58AM

    Our chairman is great man …… he is the only who can look for solution our problem.
    There is no division and groupism b/w somalis… but there are spies for SACH and UNHCR in somalis and we know them well.
    Recommend

  • Hassan yare
    Jan 16, 2011 - 1:12AM

    Shame Shame Shame , to SACH(UNHCR implementing partner) this is what they doing to refugees who came for protection but found discrimination, these somali refugees are asking the basic promises of UNHCR, Foood, Health and Education ???
    SACH is a corrupted organization, and people like Dr.Farah who is assigned to treat ill refugees, work hard to try and create difference among refugees using the inter clashes between them that made them refugees at the first time Recommend

  • Ahmed Mukhtar
    Jan 16, 2011 - 1:19AM

    the main problem of somali refugees is SACH and no one else ,, they are not providing the refugees the service they are assigned to provide , and UNHCR is not monitoring them because of tight security, and the refugees are left in the hands of corrupted NGO, they said they provide SA to 800 somalis , but the truth is they are not even providing 150 people to the substantial Assistance , Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Jan 16, 2011 - 1:28AM

    i am sorry, i strongly disagree with mr hassan , how can you blame the ill-faith of refugees who has no home and left their home because of fear and inter clan fighting for problems they are facing in foreign country , why the UNHCR is not helping this group of refugees why are they helping some and neglecting the other’s and if they are not helping non of the groups you are talking about , what are they SACH NGO doing, in todays papers they write that they provide service to morethan 800 somali refugees , the somali refugees are estimated this much , i dont think there would have been any one standing in the cold seeking for their due rights… its lame of you to suggest refugees to solve their problems them selves , when they all have common problem , such as FOOD , HEALTH and EDUCATION AND SARecommend

  • maliki abdi
    Jan 16, 2011 - 7:39PM

    as the name of (UNHCR) stand for it is Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, simple we defination UN Refugee Agency is a United Nations agency mandated to protect and support refugees at the request of a government or the UN itself and assists in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country but quastion which may com arise is that do UN and their NGO give full attention somalia refugee in pakistan ,the answer is no because we know that somalia is failed state that not have central government for the last 20 years and here pakistan there are large number of despirate somalia refugee that consist of disable,weak,single mather, weak widow,vulnable youg famle that dont have where to back, extremly financial problem and they are real deserv resetlement and humantial support but the local NGo of sarch office is one who is against somalia refuge and these refugee dont have access to reach UN office secondly UN it self neglected these vulnerible weak,despirate refugee,so may question that where is human right,where is principle of UN, at last these guy who have name of Burhaan and Hassan you are not true somalian ,you those who against right of refugee and despitae female stead you give help,Recommend

  • Hassan
    Jan 17, 2011 - 5:07AM

    Guys, your comments are all laughable. The international communities are reading what you posted and plz do not lie to the world. If we are Somali refugees in Pakistan, the reality on the ground is that we are divided into groups against each other. Be ashamed on yourselves. My advice is, let us come together, let us talk and let us make our differences aside. Then we can have one voice and talk to UNHCR.

    We all know that this group who are protesting belongs to one clan members, and they are all Hawiye clan that destroy our beloved country, Somalia. Further more, they all claimed before the UNHCR office that they are Somali minority clans in order to be recognized as refugees. But the truth is they are all Hawiye clan.

    Do you know that your chairman and his family denied the rights of their half-sister living with them? She has being denied to go to school, to have a social life while other members of your chairmans’s family are either university, college or high school graduates including his full-sisters. Your chairman’s half-sister works as a maid in his family’s house. My God. How can someone thinking and behaving like this can represent Somali refugees as their Chairman?

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are so confident while the intelligent are full of doubt (Bertrand Russell).

    Thank you.Recommend

  • Hassan
    Jan 17, 2011 - 6:15AM

    Guys, your comments are all laughable. The international communities are reading what you posted and please do not lie to the world. If we are Somali refugees in Pakistan, the reality on the ground is that we are divided into groups against each other. Be ashamed on yourselves. My advice is, let us come together, let us talk and let us make our differences aside. Then we can have one voice and talk to UNHCR.

    We all know that this group who are protesting belongs to one clan members, and they are all Hawiye clan that destroy our beloved country, Somalia. Further more, they all claimed before the UNHCR office that they are Somali minority clans in order to be recognized as refugees. But the truth is they are all Hawiye clan.

    Do you know that your chairman and his family denied the rights of their half-sister living with them? She has being denied to go to school, to have a social life while other members of your chairman’s family are either university, college or high school graduates including his full-sisters. Your chairman’s half-sister works as a maid in his family’s house. My God. How can someone thinking and behaving like this can represent Somali refugees as their Chairman?

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are so confident while the intelligent are full of doubt (Bertrand Russell).

    Thank you.Recommend

  • Ali Mahdi
    Jan 18, 2011 - 2:43AM

    Reply: Hassan:
    You are probably someone involve with the NGO’s that is playing with the rights of refugees, you comments are full of hate for the poor refugees and now you are posting allegation on such modest family in our community who are well known in advocating and devoting their time and energy for the welfare of the poor and the needy
    We know so much you don’t know about our chairman and its insulting to call his sister a maid, she is a teacher and has a respect and honor inside our community because she teaches our elderly women in refugee community center for free.

    Our chairman stand for the right of the desperate refugees and against dishonest NGO who collaborate with human smugglers and convicted forgerRecommend

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