Providing Advocacy, Education and Information for former Refugees.

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Predominantly: Islam


9 million

The Somali are traditionally nomadic people; they have occupied the Horn of Africa for over 1000 years. Somalis are divided into six major clan-families, within which are many sub clan-families. The clan-family system forms the basis of Somali society. Features of this system, such as shifting allegiances, have made the country vulnerable to political manipulation and corruption.

During the colonial era, the country was divided into British, French and Italian colonial territories.

In 1960 these territories merged to become Somalia, an independent state. After a peaceful start, tensions between clans arose.

In 1969, General Said Barre staged a coup and installed a military government. There followed clan persecutions, territorial conflicts with Ethiopia, famine and civil war. Throughout Barre’s rule civilians suffered large-scale human rights abuses, including assaults, killings, torture and deliberate policies of genocide.

In 1991 General Barre was overthrown. Warring clans threw the country into a state of chaos and confusion. The power vacuum was filled in many areas by murderous warlords. More than 1.5 million people, representing more than a quarter of Somalia’s population, fled to neighboring countries. Most of New Zealand’s intake of Somalis is drawn from refugee camps in Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan. Somali people usually retain their clan identity and affinity in this country. It is important to take this into consideration when arranging interpreters or health education sessions for Somali clients and groups.

The first Somali refugees arrived in New Zealand in 1993. They have settled in Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch and Wellington.

Many Somali social norms are derived from Islamic tradition, and therefore may be similar to other Islamic countries. The common way to greet someone is to say Assalaamu Alaykum (Islamic greeting) or Nabad Miyaa (Is there peace?).

Men shake hands. Women shake hands then kiss the hand they have shaken. However, men do not shake women hands even make eye contact.

The right hand is considered the clean and polite hand to use for daily tasks such as eating, writing, and greeting people. Thus left-handed is very uncommon in Somalia.

Contact Roctrust for more missing information.

Contact Roctrust for more missing information.

Men are usually the head of the household. Women manage the finances and take care of the children. It is considered culturally unacceptable for a man to not be perceived as being in charge of his home. Family is extremely important in the Somali community. When addressing another family member or friend. Children and elders share mutual respect.

Somalis live with the extend families.

Young Somalis expect to be respected, obedient and live with their parents until they get married. Girls learn housework early and usually marry young.

Married women are expected to cover their bodies including their hair.

Men and women are permitted to display affection in public.

Gifts that represent something are not acceptable.

Dogs are considered unclean.

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