Sumbawanga — AT least 1,598 illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries were repatriated following operation "Kimbunga" (storm) in Rukwa Region until the end of last year.
Rukwa Regional Immigration Official, Mr Selemani Kameya, made the revelation here at the weekend, saying the illegal immigrants were living in villages located near the Lake Tanganyika.
"Unfaithful local government leaders have been receiving and allowing illegal immigrants to live in their areas," said Mr Kameya while issuing annual report on immigration department.
He noted that the operation was carried out jointly by the police force, immigration department and leaders of local government authorities in different villages largely near the lake.
Mr Kameya pointed out that the illegal immigrants came from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia and Somalia and that the DRC topped the list of countries with many illegal immigrants.
"Legal action was taken on a total of 117 illegal immigrants who entered in the country last year," he said. More than 12,700 illegal immigrants have been apprehended in the special operation code-named "Kimbunga," which ended successfully on Friday.
However, 194 illegal immigrants who were sent to their home returned to Tanzania after the countries rejected them. In a statement to the media, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Simon Sirro, on behalf of the operation commander, noted that 12,704 illegal immigrants were arrested, out of which 3,448 were Rwandans, 6,125 Burundians, 2,496 Ugandans, 589 Congolese, 44 Somalis, one Yemen and one Indian.
Deputy Commissioner Sirro revealed that 194 illegal immigrants were denied entry to their countries of origin and are currently awaiting further legal procedures.
He said the first phase of the operation which started on September 6, successfully achieved its objectives, adding that 2,129 illegal immigrants agreed to voluntarily go back to their country of origin, while 8,696 were ordered by courts.
He added that another 1,852 illegal immigrants were left free after the government confirmed their citizenship, while discussions are still on for 2,286 illegal immigrants to confirm their citizenship.