Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2019, 14:27 GMT

Yemen: Information on the "Muwalladin", and their treatment by the authorities

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 September 1995
Citation / Document Symbol YEM21716.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Yemen: Information on the "Muwalladin", and their treatment by the authorities, 1 September 1995, YEM21716.E, available at: [accessed 23 January 2019]
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 following information comes from the Associate Director of the Institut de Recherches et d'Etudes sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman (IREMAM), Aix-en-Provence, France, who is a specialist in Yemen (15 Sept. 1995).

According to the source, the term Muwalladin means "of mixed origin". The term Muwalladin is the plural of Muwallad and has appeared only since the late 1970s in Yemen. The term Muwallad has no secular legal status.

A Muwallad is a person who has one parent of foreign origin (usually of East-African origin) and the other of Yemeni origin. Although other variations exist, a Muwallad is usually a person born outside Yemen to a mixed couple.

The concept of physical identification is difficult to apply to Yemen; Yemenis' physical features are varied since they have mixed with Africans, Arabs, Indians, and Europeans throughout their history. The main distinction between Muwallad and other Yemenis would be related to language and dialect, and that is mainly how the authorities would be able to recognize a Muwallad. A Muwallad is difficult to identify if she/he was born and raised in Yemen, whereas a Muwallad born abroad would be identified by their language variation. A Muwallad born in Yemen of a foreign parent might be identified by neighbours, for example. The source added that Muwalladin are not present in the mountains where tribes are closed to the external world.

There are three legal systems in Yemen: tribal, religious, and secular. The secular legal system is being implemented but is not yet clearly defined vis-à-vis the tribal and religious legal systems. The source stated that the efficiency of the legal system improves when a person has financial resources available or a parent in the government, while it would be difficult for a poor person to exercise their legal rights.

The source stated that it was difficult to appraise how a Muwallad would be treated by the authorities. Yemeni society is closed and foreigners find it difficult to integrate. The source indicated that if the person was born in Yemen and has strong links with a tribe, village or a neighbourhood, the status of Muwallad should not in itself be a problem. However, if the person was raised abroad, integration to Yemeni society will be difficult. The source provided the example of Yemeni soldiers who fought with France in Vietnam. These soldiers married Vietnamese women and had children before they came back to Yemen in the 1970s. These families experienced difficulties integrating into Yemeni society.

Further information could not be found among the sources consulted by 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.


Institut de Recherches et d'Etudes sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman (IREMAM), Aix-en-Provence, France. 15 September 1995. Telephone interview with the Associate Director.

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