Finding their feet slowly: A look at the struggles and successes of the new and growing Somali community in the Republic of Ireland.

Most of the Somali people in Ireland lived in the capital Dublin in privately rented accommodation in close proximity to each other and a few resided in the Mosney refugee centre which is one of the largest privately run refugee camps in Europe. Many of them were still awaiting the decision of their immigration claim which they collectively thought was taking “forever” and hampering their ability to support themselves. Even those that have been successful in their immigration applications were only given leave that can be extended yearly and does not give them the full refugee status which would allow them under the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention to bring their families to join them.

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Taking all the houses and jobs: why is it hard for refugees to access public services in the UK?

Many refugees do not know where to start when accessing public services which they are by law entitled to … The hard to reach label is nothing more than an excuse and an admission that centralisation has failed those it was supposed to help. As such excuses, neglect and the constant promise of learning from mistakes cannot form the basis of credible public policy. The other excuse of community division within the refugee groups which many … local authorities like to hide behind is now also dead as many of the community organisations are represented by larger umbrella bodies such as the Somali Forum in the case of the Somali community in Bristol. [T]he most vulnerable in society fall through the cracks because of poor public service provision and delivery. This creates greater poverty, isolation and withdrawal from society for many groups and this is not only dangerous but a clear breach of their Human Rights.

What does the European Court of Human Rights Judgement mean for the Somali people?

The ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that allowed two prolific serious Somali criminals to remain in the UK for fear of the breach of their Article 3 rights if sent back to war torn Mogadishu was predictable. This overturned the British Asylum and Immigration Tribunals decision that although a return to Mogadishu would and could expose deportees to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment as well as persecution, those with connections to the powerful people in Mogadishu might be able to live there safely. Despite the tough on foreign criminal’s stance the British government has adopted, the reality is that their policies are always subject to a compatibility test with European Union law of which the European Convention on Human Rights 1998 is one of. It is so important that if any member States policies do not comply they can be expelled from the Union after a period of financial penalization.

Europe: A place of broken dreams

Despite warnings of the difficulties ahead, sometimes even in the form of floating dead bodies in the treacherous seas, refugees risk everything to reach Europe in the hope of what they believe to be a good life; they believe that the grass is greener on the European side… The grass for many in Africa, naturally, especially in Somalia, will always be greener on the European side. But upon arrival reality will certainly surprise them. In fact, Europe’s lights do not shine as brightly when one experiences life here as when one does not.

The Somali community needs to learn to deal with the reality of Mental illness

Mental health issues are more prevalent in some groups than others and members of these groups tend to be the most vulnerable in society. These include the homeless, those from ethnic minority backgrounds, the disabled and those subject to immigration control or who are seeking asylum in the UK.

Many Somalis in the UK suffer from mental illness and need support, advice and guidance in order to recover from it.