Somalis have lived in the UK since the 19th century, and over the last 20 years, tens of thousands have fled to the UK as refugees. Yet the community remains relatively ignored by mainstream services, unrepresented in any national debates and many of its members are marginalised.
A recent report written by Hermione Harris, The Somali community in the UK: what we know and how we know it, published by the Information Centre about Asylum and Refugees in the UK (ICAR), was launched at a seminar on 8 July in the House of Commons. Its observations were widely welcomed by representatives from a number of Somali associations and co-ordinating committees based in the UK.
For, in addition to mapping exactly what has already been written on the Somali community, the report indicates very clearly what needs to be done to begin to undermine the seemingly perennial disadvantage Somalis face in the UK. First, accurate data needs to be collected on Somalis by local authorities and the ONS to find out exactly how many Somalis are in the UK and where they have settled. Second, the needs of the second generation and Somalis born in the UK have to be addressed. Youth projects need to be established to provide dedicated help in schools and youth clubs. Third, pressure needs to be exerted to convert the research-based knowledge on the Somali community that has already been created into policy changes which concretely end the feelings of exclusion among the Somali community in the UK.