Stranded Somalis seek recognition

Kathmandu, October 15:

Somali people, who have been living in Kathmandu since around three years, today demonstrated outside the southern gate of Singha Durbar, calling on the government to accept them as refugees.

“Though the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have recognised us as refugees and provides monthly allowances, the government of Nepal does not treat us in the same way, instead see us as illegal immigrants,” said 24-year-old Shukri Dek Ali, one of the Somalis staging demonstration.

Stating that they are entitled pay to visa fees, Ali said he does not remember how they landed

in Kathmandu.

“Since we depend on the UNHCR for financial assistance and are not allowed to work here, paying visa fees and fines are burden on us.”

If the situation in Somalia improves, he said, they will return to their country. It is believed that more than 70 Somalis, who had entered Nepal through various routes in 2005 and 2006, are living in Lazimpat and Golfutar.

“We tried to enter the central secretariat to put forward our request to the home minister, but the police stopped us at the gate and said they would convey our message to the authority concerned,” said Ali.

The Somalis living here are very thankful to the Nepali people and the government, he said, requesting the government to recognise them as refugees.