Dar es Salaam — A total of 454,350 refugees from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been voluntarily returned home since the repatriation exercise began in 2002.
Home Affairs Spokesperson Isaac Nantanga said in a statement on the status of the repatriation exercise in Tanzania that 11,698 refugees returned home in the first three months of this year.
In addition to those repatriated to their native countries, 5,888 other refugees were granted asylum in January and February under the programme which is coordinated by the International Organisation of Migrants (IOM).
A total of 4,981 refugees were resettled in the United States, 50 in Canada, 21 in Norway, 94 in the Netherlands while 604 are waiting to be granted asylum in the US.
Mr Nantanga said Tanzania currently hosted 423,642 refugees from Burundi, DRC and Somalia, with Burundi and the DRC having 322,305 and 99,403 refugees respectively in the country.
Tanzania is also home to refugees from Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Kenya.
Mr Nantanga said eight of the 13 official refugee camps had been closed down since the repatriation exercise began.
The camps are Lugufu in Kigoma District, Muyovosi (Kasulu), Lukole B (Ngara), Kitali (Biharamulo) and Karago, Mtendeli, Mkugwa, and Kanembwa (Kibondo).
Mr Nantanga said there was a significant number of people who had settled in Tanzania after entering the country as refugees in the 1970s. Most of them live in Rukwa and Tabora regions.
The governments of Tanzania and Burundi and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees agreed to close down all refugee camps by December this year.
The ongoing repatriation exercise started in 2002 and 2005 and involves refugees from Burundi and the DRC.