Djibouti: Treatment of members of the Issa Furlaba [Foulaba, Furlabeh] Dulcaad [Dulqaad] tribe by authorities (2015-May 2017) Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa [DJI105811.FE]

1. Overview

In his publication titled Clanship, Conflict and Refugees: An Introduction to Somalis in the Horn of Africa, which introduces the Somali clans that populate Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, Guido Ambroso, a former protection officer in Djibouti for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (Ambroso March 2002, 2), states that the Furlabas are one of six sub-clans that make up the Issa clan, which itself is one of the four major clans that make up the Somali Dir clanfamily (Ambroso March 2002, 67).

Sources report that in Djibouti, approximately half of the population has roots in the Somali ethnic group (UK 25 Nov. 2008, 39; L’aménagement linguistique dans le monde 23 Dec. 2015; US 12 Jan. 2017). According to sources, those Somalis are primarily from Issa clans (PHW 2015, 402; UK 25 Nov. 2008, 39). An operations plan for Djibouti, prepared in 2005 by the UNHCR, indicates that in this country, [UN English version] “the majority of the population belongs to the Somali ethnic group (essentially Issa; Issak and Gadaboursi clans)” (UN 1 Sept. 2005, Appendix 1). Sources specify that Somalis, including Issas, are found in southern Djibouti (L’aménagement linguistique dans le monde 23 Dec. 2015; MRG 19 June 2015). In a report published in 2015, Minority Rights Group International (MRG) adds that there are also Issas in Djibouti’s capital (MRG 19 June 2015).

In a research document on developments in the Horn of Africa that was published in 2008 by the United Kingdom (UK) House of Commons Library, Jon Lun, from the International Affairs and Defence Section, notes that the first post-independence president of Djibouti, Hassan Gouled Aptidon [1977 to 1999], uncle of the current Djiboutian president, was an Issa (UK 25 Nov. 2008, 39). Other sources state that Ismaël Omar Guelleh [the current Djiboutian president] is Mamasan [Mamassan, Mamasane] a subclan of the Issas (Ambroso Mar. 2002, 7; BBC 26 Jan. 2017). According to Guido Ambroso, the Mamasan sub-sub-clan is part of the Elaye sub-clan which, along with the Furlabas, is part of the Issa clan in Djibouti (Ambroso Mar. 2002, 7). An article from The Indian Ocean Newsletter, an economic and political publication “on people, business and the networks which link them in West and Central Africa,” published in Paris by Africa Intelligence, a news site on Africa (Africa Intelligence n.d.), notes that Ismaël Omar Guelleh is a member of the [translation] “Issa Mamasan/Bah Furlaba communities [1]” (24 Mar. 2017). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

According to a report published by MRG in 2007, the Afars [another ethnic group in Djibouti] held “a greater share of political influence” in Djibouti prior to independence [1977] (MRG 2007). In an article published in 2016, the BBC states that, prior to the country’s independence, a balance had been maintained between the two ethnic groups [Afar and Issa] (BBC 7 Apr. 2016). Sources report that the government of the [first] Djiboutian president, Hassan Gouled Aptidon, was dominated by Issas (BBC 7 Apr. 2016; UK 25 Nov. 2008, 39; MRG 2007). In his 2002 publication, Guido Ambroso states that the Issa are the “hegemonic tribe in Djibouti” and that they “[hold] the portfolios of President and Minister of Defence” (Ambroso March 2002, 7).

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the President of the Association for the Respect of Human Rights in Djibouti (Association pour le respect des droits de l’homme à Djibouti, ARDHD), whose headquarters is in Paris (ARDHD n.d.), stated the following:

[translation]

Members of the Furlaba tribe held important positions in the Djibouti administration up until the failed coup d’état on 7 December 2000, which was led by General Yacin Yabeh (of Furlaba ethnicity), who was chief of police at the time (FNP) [National Police Force,(Force nationale de police],)]. The General died in prison in July 2002. Under his command, a number of officers of the same ethnicity were promoted within the police ranks.

After the coup d’état, there was a mass arrest of numerous members of that ethnicity and layoffs from the administration (ARDHD 17 May 2017).

Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

According to Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016 from the United States (US) Department of State, “Discrimination based on ethnicity and clan affiliation remained a factor [in Djibouti] in business and politics,” as well as in the areas of employment and job advancement (US 3 Mar. 2017, 24). The same source indicates that while the government coalition in Djibouti included the country’s major ethnic clans and groups, the Issas controlled the ruling party and dominated the civil service as well as security services (US 3 Mar. 2017, 24). In addition, a 2016 report published by Freedom House indicates that, in Djibouti, the Issas hold more prominent positions in government and the private sector (Freedom House 2016).

2. Treatment of Furlabas by the Authorities

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the President of the Djiboutian League for Human Rights (Ligue djiboutienne des droits humains, LDDH), a human rights NGO in Djibouti (LDDH n.d.), stated that members of the Issa Furlaba tribe [translation] “are well represented within the government, the police and the army” (LDDH 17 May 2017). Furthermore, an article published in 2017 by The Indian Ocean Newsletter indicates that the Director of the Prime Minister’s Office, Youssouf Aouled Farah, is an Issa Mamasan/Bah Furlaba (the President’s sub-clan), and the Minister of Muslim Affairs, Moumin Hassan Barreh, is an Issa Furlaba/Reer Mahmoud (The Indian Ocean Newsletter 10 Mar. 2017). That same source indicates that the Djiboutian president, during the regional and municipal elections in February [2017], [translation] “to avoid any potential dissidence … [entrusted] a close Issa Mamasan/Bah Furlaba like him, Houssein Idriss Gouled, to direct a commission in order to reassure the electoral base of the People’s Progress Movement (Rassemblement populaire pour le progrès, RPP), the President’s party (PHW 2015, 406)]” (The Indian Ocean Newsletter 24 Mar. 2017). The same source indicates that the President, in anticipation of the presidential election in 2016, appointed Youssouf Moussa Dawaleh, [translation] “of the Issa Furlaba clan,” as the assistant director of his campaign (The Indian Ocean Newsletter 5 Feb. 2016). According to The Indian Ocean Newsletter, following [translation] “the bloody crackdown” on a protest by members of the Issa/Yonis Moussa clan in Balbala on 21 December 2015, the President asked [translation] “Issa/Furlaba dignitaries” to act as mediators between him and the suppressed tribe (The Indian Ocean Newsletter 8 Jan. 2016). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

According to the President of the LDDH, the situation for Furlabas in Djibouti is similar to that of all other Djiboutians and has no [translation] “specific particularities” (LDDH 17 May 2017). The same source stated the following: [translation] “To our knowledge, the Furlaba tribe plays a very small role in the resistance against the Djiboutian dictatorship. There are a few members of the opposition who have been severely reprimanded” (LDDH 17 May 2017). However, the President of ARDHD indicated that Daher Ahmed Farah, of Furlaba ethnicity, is president of the Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development (Mouvement pour le renouveau démocratique et le développement, MRD), a former opposition party, and is one [translation] “of the relatively active [political] opponents” (ARDHD 17 May 2017). According to that same source, the majority of the MRD’s members are of that same ethnicity (ARDHD 17 May 2017). In addition, an article published in 2012 by The Indian Ocean Newsletter indicates that Daher Ahmed Farah, [translation] “leader of the MRD,” is part of the Furlaba clan (The Indian Ocean Newsletter 6 Oct. 2012). According to an article published in 2010 by the same source, the MRD draws its members from the Issa/Furlaba clan (The Indian Ocean Newsletter 10 July 2010). According to the President of the ARDHD, Daher Ahmed Farah [translation] “has returned to Djibouti several times, where he always spends a certain number of days in prison” (ARDHD 17 May 2017). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

The President of the LDDH stated that there are [translation] “no members of the Dulcaad sub-clan in the opposition, and I have not seen that they are subject to any specific repression” (LDDH 17 May 2017). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

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 for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Note

[1] In the glossary that accompanies his publication, Guido Ambroso explains that the word “Bah” means a “‘group of brothers with same mother,’ and their descendants” (Ambroso March 2002, 61).

References

Africa Intellignce. N.d. “Qui sommes-nous?” [Accessed 23 May2017]

Ambroso, Guido. March 2002. Clanship, Conflict and Refugees: An Introduction to Somalis in the Horn of Africa. [Accessed 18 May 2017]

L’aménagement linguistique dans le monde. 23 December 2015. Jacques Leclerc, Collaborator, Chaire de recherche pour le développement de la recherche sur la culture d’expression française en Amérique du Nord (CEFAN), Université Laval. “Djibouti.” [Accessed 31 May 2017]

Association pour le respect des droits de l’homme à Djibouti (ARDHD). 17 May 2017. Correspondence sent to the Research Directorate by the President. N.d. [Accessed 30 May 2017]

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 26 January 2017. “Djibouti Country Profile.” [Accessed 23 May 2017]

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 7 April 2016. “Djibouti Profile - Full Profile.” [Accessed 23 May 2017]

Freedom House. 2016. “Djibouti.” Freedom in the World 2016. [Accessed 23 May 2017]

The Indian Ocean Newsletter. 24 March 2017. “Succession d’IOG : faites vos jeux, rien ne va plus!” (Factiva)

The Indian Ocean Newsletter. 10 March 2017. “La guerre de succession à IOG a bel et bien commencé!” (Factiva)

The Indian Ocean Newsletter. 5 February 2016. “IOG nomme un cacique du FRUD numéro deux de sa campagne.” (Factiva)

The Indian Ocean Newsletter. 8 January 2016. “Échec de la médiation fourlaba entre IOG et les Yonis Moussa.” (Factiva)

The Indian Ocean Newsletter. 6 October 2012. “IOG prend le risque de rénover le RPP.” (Factiva)

The Indian Ocean Newsletter. 10 July 2010. “No Opposition Agreement in Sight.” (Factiva)

Ligue djiboutienne des droits humains (LDDH). 17 May 2017. Correspondence sent to the Research Directorate by the President.

Ligue djiboutienne des droits humains (LDDH). N.d. "Présentation de la LDDH." [Accessed 30 May 2017]

Minority Rights Group International (MRG). 19 June 2015. “Djibouti.” [Accessed 23 May 2017]

Minority Rights Group International (MRG). 2007. World Directory of Minoritites and Indigenous Peoples - Djibouti. [Accessed 23 May 2017]

Political Handbook of the World 2015 (PHW). 2015. “Djibouti.” Edited by Thomas Lansford. Washington, DC, CQ Press.

United Kingdom (UK). 25 November 2008. House of Commons Library. John Lun. Interlocking Crisis in the Horn of Africa. Research Paper 08/86. [Accessed 18 May 2017]

United Nations (UN). 1 September 2005. UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). UNHCR Country Operations Plan 2006 - Djibouti. [Accessed 23 May 2017]

United States (US). 3 March 2017. Department of State. “Djibouti.” Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016. [Accessed 17 May 2017]

United States (US). 12 January 2017. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). “Djibouti.” The World Factbook. [Accessed 17 May 2017]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Doctor, Observatoire de la Corne de l’Afrique; Doctor, geopolitical specialist, France; Observatoire djiboutien pour la promotion de la démocratie et des droits humains; Professeur Emeritus, Institut français de géopolitique; Professor Emeritus, Université Bordeaux Montaigne; Professor, specialist in human rights in the Horn of Africa, University of Minnesota-Morris.

Internet sites, including: Agence djiboutienne d’information; Djibouti – Présidence de la République; ecoi.net; International Crisis Group; Jeune Afrique; La Nation; Radio France internationale; Radio Télévision Djibouti; United Kingdom – Country of Origin Information Service, UK Border Agency.