14 September 2013

Tanzania: No Registered Refugee Repatriated, Confirms UNHCR

THE United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, (UNHCR) office in Dar es Salaam has confirmed with their counterparts in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that no registered refugee had been forced out of Tanzania whatsoever.

According to press statement issued in Dar es Salaam by the Ministry of Home Affairs and signed by the Ministry's Spokesperson, Isaac Nantanga since last month (August) a total of 27,000 illegal immigrants have been repatriated.

"Initially, these (refugees) were given two options. They were required to observe immigration procedures to acquire the refugee status or leave the country voluntarily. They failed to comply and had to leave. The allegations that registered refugees had been forced out of Tanzania are unfounded, incorrect and malicious because these are not refugees but illegal immigrants," reads the statement.

The statement adds; "The media outlets allegedly quoted a special report by a UN organisation. The reports were aimed at tarnishing the good name of Tanzania which has for so long been safe-haven for refugees from the Great Lakes Region."

It was revealed that the last time that refugees from Burundi were repatriated was in 2012 whereby 34,000 of them went back home willingly. The refugees had been sheltered at the Mtabila refugee camp in Kigoma region and were repatriated during joint operation conducted by the governments of Burundi, Tanzania and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

"No time has Tanzania forcibly repatriated refugees. Repatriations are only conducted when deemed fit and the refugees willingly returned to their countries of origin under close monitoring of the UNHCR," adds the statement.

Apart from those who have been repatriated voluntarily, there are still some refugees who are living in the country after being given refugee status. These include 64,172 refugees from the DRC who are being sheltered at Nyarugusu camp in Kasulu district in Kigoma region.

In addition, there are 175,473 refugees from Burundi at different camps in Katavi and Tabora regions as well as 2,128 refugees from Somalia at Chogo camp in Tanga region. In total, there are 264,000 refugees in the country.

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