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Somalia: Information on the Muwlad and Lahji Arab clans, including whether they are Somali or Yemeni subclans, and on their treatment by the Isaaqs and Darods

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 February 1997
Citation / Document Symbol SOM26163.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Somalia: Information on the Muwlad and Lahji Arab clans, including whether they are Somali or Yemeni subclans, and on their treatment by the Isaaqs and Darods, 1 February 1997, SOM26163.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ab8c7b.html [accessed 22 October 2014]
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.

 

A historian specializing in Somali history and politics at Savannah State College in Savannah, Georgia explained that most clans in Somalia claim to be of Arab descent (12 Feb. 1997). He stated that most Lahji live in Bari but there are also large Lahji communities along the coasts of Djibouti and Somalia, particularly, in Mogadishu and Kismayo (ibid.). He also stated that coastal Somalis have close physical resemblance to Arabs (ibid.).  He further explained that the Lahji claim an affinity to Yemen because they can trace their descent to Lahji region of Yemen (ibid.). The historian disputes this claim, however, stating that there is insufficient evidence to support it. He explained that  Somalis have historically tended to migrate to Saudi Arabia rather to Yemen because of friction between Yemen and previous Somali governments, and because Somalis have not felt  "welcome" in Yemen (ibid.).

This source stated that the relationships between Somali Arab clans and the Darods and Isaaqs are not conflictual because the latter also claim to be of Arab descent (ibid.).  However, he emphasized that this is not the case with the Hawiye clans of the south, who "despise and abuse" Somali clans that claim to be of Arab ancestry (ibid.).

This information was corroborated by a researcher specializing in Somali politics at the U.S. Institute for Peace in Washington, DC (12 Feb. 1997). This source stated that the Hawiye clans forced Somali Arabs to leave Somalia and seek refugee in Mombasa, Kenya and Yemen (ibid.). He stated, however, that Somali Arab clans did not have a "good reception" in Yemen (ibid.). For information on the treatment of Somalis in Yemen, please consult Responses to SOM25496.E of 16 December 1996 and SOM22010.E of 18 October 1995, which are available at Regional Documentation Centres.

With regard to relationships between the Somali Arab clans and the Darod and Isaaq clans, this source provided contradictory information.  He stated that the Somali Arabs are a coastal people and have "nothing to do with Isaaqs and Darods" (ibid.). He also stated that Siad Barre was "brutal" to them and when his regime fell, "they lost property" and their women "were raped." (ibid.). This information could not be corroborated by sources currently available to the DIRB.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB 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. 

References

Historian specializing in Somali history and politics, Savannah State College, Savannah, Georgia. 12 February 1997. Telephone interview.

Researchers specializing in Somali politics, U.S. Institute for Peace, Washington, DC. 12 February 1997. Telephone interview.

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 http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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