Sunday, May 04, 2003

Who are the Somali Bantu? The descendants of six African tribes in...
SOUTH CAROLINA, 4 MAY 2003 (The State)--Who are the Somali Bantu?
The descendants of six African tribes in East Africa, the Somali Bantu are not native Somalis. Their ancestors were taken from their native lands by Arab slave traders in the 18th and 19th centuries and sold through the Zanzibar slave market.

How were they persecuted?

The Bantu endured several centuries of toil and deprivation as slaves in Somalia. Even after slavery ended there in 1930, they continued to exist on the lowest rungs of the social ladder. During the Somali civil war in the 1990s, their situation worsened. Their farms were raided and rival Somali clans routinely raped Bantu women and killed the men. That led to an exodus to neighboring Kenya.

Are they refugees?

The Somali Bantu fit the definition of refugee as outlined by the U.N. High Commission on Refugees. It says a refugee is a person who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country." MORE

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