Tanzania: Stop Criminal Acts, President Warns

PRESIDENT John Magufuli yesterday issued a stern warning to some refugees who have been engaging in criminal activities and exploiting natural resources in the country, ordering them to stop the behaviour forthwith.

Dr Magufuli also directed the Police Force and Katavi regional authorities to monitor refugees closely by making sure they stay at designated areas as well as protecting the natural resources.

He made the statement when speaking at a public rally held at Majalila grounds in Tanganyika District, Katavi Region, during which he laid the foundation stones for the construction of Tabora-Katavi power transmission line for the major objective of connecting Katavi to the national grid.

"We don't have problem with refugees except for those who are involved in criminal activities. It has to be made clear that we are receiving them for humanitarian reasons but some of them have been taking advantage of our generosity by invading farmers and waylaying vehicles, including buses on highways. I want these acts to end once and for all," he remarked.

He added: "Some refugees are involved in exploiting resources in Tongwe forest reserve. I want them to stop the criminal acts immediately as they are tarnishing the actual meaning of a refugee status."

Dr Magufuli further cautioned refugees who left their countries with weapons with which they have been carrying out criminal activities in Tanzania.

However he said, despite such challenges, some refugees have been loyal to the country, qualifying to be granted citizenship.

He counselled them to stay calm as the government supports them instead of breaching peace in Tanzania.

For Burundian refugees, President Magufuli urged them to return to their home country and should not be deceived by a group of people or any company for them to remain refugees forever, as peace had already been restored.

"It's not that I am expelling Burundian refugees. I am just advising them to voluntarily return home, especially in areas where peace has been reinstated."

Nearly 600 Burundian refugees were sent home from Tanzania on October 3.

They make up the first large group to be repatriated as part of a mass deportation operation that began last week.

In March 2018, the UN refugee agency UNHCR, Tanzania and Burundi signed a trilateral treaty making it easier for refugees to return home voluntarily.

This August, Tanzania and Burundi signed a bilateral deal agreeing to return 200,000 Burundian refugees home by year's end.

He further warned refugees who are coming to Tanzania with their indecent plans to stop including those who hid their weapons in the forests will be held accountable.

Due to security reasons, Dr Magufuli also commissioned the Ulibasi Airstrip to be under the Tanzania People's Defence Force as well as attaching the region under brigade 201 of Tabora for closer supervision.

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