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U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2005 - Tanzania

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 20 June 2005
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2005 - Tanzania , 20 June 2005, available at: [accessed 22 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Refoulement/Asylum  In October, the Government summarily deported without asylum screening more than 90 Burundians who had entered Tanzania in the Ngara region and sought asylum at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The following month, the Kibondo District local authorities required 120 Burundian refugees who had already been granted refugee status to undergo a second asylum screening before a panel that included Burundian officials visiting the region. Panelists yelled at, laughed at, and mocked the refugees and denied more than 80 percent of the cases. The procedure violated the 1998 Refugees Act (Refugees Act) which required that the National Eligibility Committee (NEC) include specific government officials and a UNHCR observer but not foreign officials. After the screening, the Government immediately deported 95 refugees without opportunity for appeal as guaranteed by law.

Between August and November, the Government rounded up over 200 Burundians who had been living in local villages and deported them, including 14 refugees previously registered in the Tanzanian camps.

Local authorities also deported refugees caught outside camp areas. The 2003 National Refugee Policy (Refugee Policy) stated that refugees "will not be expelled ... except on grounds of national security or public order." The Refugees Act also charged the Director of Refugee Services with ensuring that asylum seekers not be deported. UNHCR raised the refoulements with the Government but did not publicize them until local authorities refouled nine more people in January 2005.

Early in 2004, in the Ngara District, local authorities screened a group of new Burundian arrivals and summarily deported them without UNHCR monitoring or appeal. During the year, Tanzania recognized about 1,100 Burundians and nearly 200 Congolese under a more rigorous standard that required screening interviews by local officials rather than by NEC – as specified in the Refugees Act – often excluded UNHCR, and brooked no appeal. Several times toward the end of the year, the Government stated that it would no longer recognize Burundians as prima facie refugees.

Violence against women soared, and in January and February alone, refugees reported 24 rapes outside the camps.

Detention  The Refugees Act required asylum seekers to apply for status with local authorities within seven days of entry. There were no reports that the Government detained refugees or asylum seekers specifically under this charge, but local authorities commonly detained refugees and asylum seekers who were found outside the camps.

The Refugee Policy called for identification cards for all refugees, but the Government provided cards only to those granted status in individual hearings. Those in the camps received ration cards but the Government did not accept them as proof of refugee status.

Right to Earn a Livelihood  The Refugees Act and the National Employment Promotion Services Act forbade refugees from working outside the camps without permits. Refugees had to get permits not only from the Immigration Department charged with issuing work permits for foreigners but also from the Refugee Department. The Government only issued permits if no qualified national was available. Under the Refugees Act, those caught without a permit risked a fine of nearly $200 (200,000 shillings), imprisonment for up to three years, or both.

The laws made it illegal for refugees to work outside the camps. Most refugees sold goods in camp markets, worked in local villages, performed piecemeal work, or worked for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the camps for capped salaries. The Government, however, kept several camp markets closed, including the Lukole A market, which served a population of 50,000 refugees. Local authorities also allowed only Tanzanian nationals with special permission to trade in camp markets. Refugees in camps trained in weaving, carpentry, bread-making, shoe-making, wood-carving, and other trades that generated limited income but gave refugees skills they could apply after repatriation. The movement restrictions prevented them from selling goods in towns and made them pay inflated prices for wood or other raw materials.

Tanzanian law did not preclude refugees from owning land, but required that the president grant permission to buy land. Refugees could own movable property, businesses, and transfer capital. The Refugees Act required refugees to turn over all personal property to the Government for fair compensation at the time of repatriation, but local authorities did not enforce this policy.

In November, the Kasulu and Kibondo District Commissioners prohibited all trade in camp markets and threatened that any persons caught doing business would lose their refugee status. The local authorities also threatened to take action against villagers who employed refugees. The next month, the Government announced that refugees would be required to pay for business licences. Local authorities also banned refugees from farming the small plots of land inside the camps that were left vacant after other refugees repatriated.

The Government applied the work restrictions more liberally to about 200,000 Burundians living in Tanzania since the early 1970s. These refugees were able to live and work in settlements in the Tabora and Rukwa regions.

Some of the several thousand refugees living and working without permits in Dar es Salaam and other urban areas sold goods in the streets, taught French, or found other informal means of making money. The Government harassed, detained, or forced urban refugees to return to camps, and occasionally deported them. The few refugees with permits were entitled to labor law protections and social security on par with nationals. Movement restrictions hindered refugees' access to courts. UNHCR in Kibondo provided translation services in court.

Freedom of Movement and Residence  Pursuant to the Refugees Act, the Government required that all refugees live in twelve refugee camps in the western border region. Local authorities implementing this rule forbade refugees from traveling more than 2.4 miles (4 km) from the camps. Violations were punishable with up to two years in prison, fines, or both. At year's end, about 400,000 Burundian and Congolese refugees lived in the camps. Refugees could request permits, which local authorities granted sparingly, for travel for up to 14 days.

The Government regularly detained and prosecuted refugees caught outside the camp without a permit. In Kasulu prison, about 5 out of 20 detained refugees were charged with violating the restrictions. Local officials also often extorted bribes from refugees caught outside the camps. In many cases, refugees remained incarcerated for six months because they could not raise money to pay fines or bribes.

In November, local authorities in Kigoma district arrested four Congolese refugees staying in the refugee transit center for violation of the movement restrictions. Although they were in official transit pursuant to a standing agreement among the Government, UNHCR, and an NGO, the Government sentenced them on the next day to the maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

The Government also prosecuted refugees under the 1995 Immigration Act for unlawful presence, which carried harsher penalties, including immediate deportation. Delays in the judicial system resulted in long periods of detention for refugees awaiting trial. Some prisons provided nothing but plastic sheeting for shelter. There were credible reports that police tortured detainees in custody, although none specifically identified refugees as victims.

The Government forbade Burundians who arrived in the 1970s from leaving their settlements without permits.

In November, the Kasulu and Kibondo District commissioners called for a "refugee free zone," announcing that refugees would not be able to leave the camps at all even within the limited 2.4 mile radius allowed previously. In Kasulu, local authorities banned refugees, primarily women, from collecting firewood.

The Government allowed a few refugees to reside outside of the camps for educational, medical, or security reasons. For about $10, refugees could apply for international travel documents to enable travel abroad and return with a visa. The Government issued 23 of them.

Public Relief and Education  UNHCR and its implementing partners provided preventive and emergency care to refugees and Tanzanian nationals living near camps. Overall health care was equal to if not better than what nationals received. Malaria, however, afflicted nearly 12 percent of all camp-based refugees and accounted for 4 in 10 deaths in the Kibondo region.

Due to insufficient donor funding and breaks in the delivery system, the World Food Programme (WFP) decreased rations to 1,300 calories per person per day, or only 60 percent of the UN-recommended level of beans, corn meal, corn-soya blend, salt, and oil. Most had no legal way to supplement the rations. More than one-third of children under five were malnourished and between six and nine percent were born with low birthweights.

More than 90 percent of refugee children were enrolled in camp-based primary schools, an entitlement prescribed in the Refugees Act. Refugees were required to apply and pay for secondary education. Refugees also had to purchase even more costly study permits, valid for one year. In the Ngara region, less than 25 refugees attended post-primary schools.

The Government granted humanitarian agencies access to assist refugees.

Other Developments  About 89,000 Burundian refugees repatriated during the year, many with assistance from UNHCR.

Copyright 2005, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

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