Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2016, 11:51 GMT

Djibouti: Situation of the Midgans (This Response replaces an earlier version dated 13 January 1999)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 February 1999
Citation / Document Symbol DJI31021.FE
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Djibouti: Situation of the Midgans (This Response replaces an earlier version dated 13 January 1999), 1 February 1999, DJI31021.FE, available at: [accessed 24 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


The documentary sources consulted make no reference to the Midgans in Djibouti. However, a professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris who is a specialist in Djibouti affairs provided the following information about the Midgans:

The Midgans are one of the Somali clans in Djibouti. They are a [translation] "low-caste," marginalized minority; it is estimated that they make up less than one per cent of the total population. The Midgans are found mainly in Djiboutiville, often in the less desirable trades (blacksmith, iron worker). Midgans show little interest in politics; for this reason and because of their small numbers, they have no political clout. Living in difficult socio-economic conditions compared with members of other clans, the Midgans suffer discrimination in all spheres and, generally speaking, tend to [translation] "melt" into the other clans to avoid being identified and identifiable as members of a [translation] "low caste".

In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate on 22 December 1998, another specialist in Djibouti affairs, who has written a number of works on Djibouti, offered the following comments concerning the Midgans:

Many Midgans have already assimilated into other ethnic groups, generally the Afars and the Issas, and it is difficult to find anyone in Djibouti today who will identify himself or herself as a member of the Midgan clan. It is clear that the few Midgans who do identify themselves as such are suffering the consequences of the country's current socio-economic situation to a greater degree than the other clans, due to their traditionally precarious social and economic status. It is unlikely that Midgans are suffering repression at the hands of the current regime, given their lack of political interest and ambition. On the other hand, there is no doubt that they suffer widespread discrimination in other spheres from members of other clans.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Professor, École des hautes études en Sciences sociales. 8 December 1998. Telephone interview.

Specialist in Djibouti affairs. 22 December 1998. Telephone interview.

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Confidential [London], 1998.

Africa Research Bulletin [Oxford], 1998.

Country file, Resource Centre. Djibouti, 1998.

Horn of Africa Bulletin [Uppsala], 1998.

Jeune Afrique [Paris], 1998.

Indian Ocean Newsletter [Paris], 1998.

La Lettre de la FIDH [Paris], 1998.

Electronic sources: Internet, IRB databases, LEXIS/NEXIS, WNC. 1998.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

Search Refworld