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|Better Deal For Somalilanders|
By Julie Harding
Mr. Eid Ahmed, April 07, 2004
The first conference to discuss the plight of Somalilanders living in Bristol is being held in Easton today. Bristol's Lord Mayor, Councillor Bill Martin, and key decision makers in the city were invited to the event to discuss an action plan aimed at removing the barriers faced by Somalilanders to health care, housing, training and jobs. Research last year showed that England's Somalilanders population, which includes 8,000 people in the West, was "a hidden society" where "extreme levels of deprivation and disadvantage are commonplace". Bristol is a major centre for Somalilanders people with most living in Easton, Lawrence Hill, St Paul's and Barton Hill. Nine out of 10 Somalilanders in the region are unemployed and many are living in cramped conditions. The community also suffers from a high level of TB. Racism is a particular problem with clashes reported between groups of Somali and Jamaican young men in Bristol. More than 100 delegates were attending today's event which aims to highlight the services needed by Somalilanders, discuss plans for a centre for the community and ways of overcoming the disadvantages they face. The research was commissioned by the Horn of Africa Forum and was funded by Bristol City Council's Community Development Unit. The Forum is an umbrella organization for Somali groups and other groups from the Horn of Africa.
Researchers from Sheffield Hallam University said support organizations were failing to meet the community's specific needs. The report said Somalis in Bristol suffered from social deprivation, high unemployment, low skills, low self esteem from a lack of education and poor health.
Yassin Abdi, Eid Ahmed, the consultant employed by the forum to look into the problems affecting the Somali community said: "It is evident that the quality of life of the Somali population in Bristol falls below the basic standard of living." Many of the elements constituting a decent level of living are not met. These include employment opportunities, educational and training opportunities, adequate housing, health care and enough income."
Although the provisions available allow survival they don't permit improvement in quality of life and self-sufficiency.
"It is clear that the situation of the Somali people is not improving but
deteriorating by the day and the community is becoming isolated from the
wider Bristol society."