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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

Virginia Luling, ‘cherished friend’

Dr Virginia Luling, who died in January, was an independent researcher on Somalia who worked for more than 20 years with Survival International. She conducted her first field research in Afgooye, a village 30 km from Mogadishu, in the mid-1960s, before completing her PhD in 'The social structure of southern Somali tribes' (University of London, 1971). As well as publishing several influential books, she became an internationally acknowledged expert on the role of women and the rights of minorities.

Ayan Mahamoud, managing director of Kayd Somali Arts and Culture, writes: 'It is with great sorrow that we received the news about the passing of Virginia Luling, a cherished friend of the Somali community. In recent years, Virginia's main occupation was producing expert reports for vulnerable minority groups to support their asylum claims. Beyond her specialized work on Somali minority issues, she was the secretary of the Anglo-Somali Society and a great supporter of our work with Somali Week Festival in London. We share this loss with Virginia's family, friends, and colleagues.'

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