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ISLAMABAD: A large number of Somalis on Wednesday gathered outside the National Press Club to protest and get the attention of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.

They demanded the right to resettlement, financial support, educational support, food, shelter and voluntary repatriation.

One of the protesters, who requested not to be named for fear he will be penalised by the UNHCR, said Somalis have been living in Pakistan for a long time, some as long as a decade.

“In the beginning, UNHCR used to pay us Rs7,000 per family but they have stopped doing that as well which has increased difficulties. We have very different customs and culture than that in Pakistan and we can never fully adjust even if we lived here for decades. Most Somalis live in G-10,” he said.

The protestor said their children cannot get education here and people do not offer Somalis employment either.

Another protestor said the UNHCR should move them to the US, Canada or any other country where they can adjust better and can get jobs.

“All of us have UNHCR cards but we are not considered refugees, which means our problems are ever increasing. We do not have money to feed our children and UNHCR should understand our problems and start supporting us. The agency has ignored us the last four years. If it is not possible to settle us in another country, we should be sent back to Somalia,” he said.

The protestors chanted slogans to get the UNHCR’s attention and dispersed peacefully after announcing they will continue efforts for their rights.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2018