Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2018, 16:17 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2007 - Tanzania

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 11 July 2007
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2007 - Tanzania, 11 July 2007, available at: [accessed 18 January 2018]
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/Physical Protection

Tanzania forcibly returned 14 Burundian refugees over the protests of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), including eight it reportedly arrested in April with illegal firearms. The Government deported 15,000 Rwandans and 4,200 Burundians without allowing UNHCR to screen them for refugees and asylum seekers. Officials forced Burundians, sometimes by beating them, to leave behind their Tanzanian spouses and families and their livestock and other property. Many of the Burundians had lived in Tanzania since the 1970s, and some were refugees whom authorities forced to leave the camps after they lost their ration cards. Some of the Rwandans had lived in Tanzania for 40 years and reported that officials had raped, assaulted, and robbed them to force them to repatriate. In May, officials confined some 7,000 Burundian entrants to way stations and berated them, one official reportedly brandishing a pistol, until they agreed to return.

There were numerous incidents of violence against refugees during the year, though fewer than in the past. Kasulu and Ngara districts reported seven murders and more than 70 rapes and attempted rapes of refugees. Banditry was common in Kibondo district.

A World Vision International study found that 69 percent of the children in Lugufu I and II camps had experienced some form of sexual abuse. Of those reporting abuse, 17 percent had been raped, 10 percent had been compelled to exchange sex for basic needs, and more than a quarter had witnessed sexual assaults. Nearly half of the victims identified their abusers as neighbors and community members, a quarter as family members, seven percent as military personnel, five percent as teachers, two percent each as humanitarian and medical workers, and seven percent as persons unknown to them.

Tanzania was party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, its 1967 Protocol, and the 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa but maintained a reservation on the Protocol's dispute resolution procedure. The Government maintained two refugee procedures, one for refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) and Burundi, and one for others. The Government said it granted Burundians and Congolese prima facie status, but maintained District Ad Hoc Eligibility Committees (Ad Hoc Committees) in major refugee-hosting areas to screen them. In Kibondo and Ngara districts, the Ad Hoc Committees screened all new arrivals, but in Kigoma and Kasulu they only interviewed asylum seekers whose claims prescreening officials found to be doubtful.

Tanzania's National Eligibility Committee (NEC) conducted status determinations for asylum seekers from countries other than Congo-Kinshasa and Burundi. All asylum seekers had to present themselves to the authorities within seven days of arrival for registration. NEC made recommendations to the Minister of Home Affairs, who made final decisions. The only avenue for appeal, in both the NEC and the Ad Hoc Committee processes, was a petition to the Minister. UNHCR observed both NEC and Ad Hoc processes.

About 42,800 Burundian refugees repatriated during the year, a significant decrease from the previous year's total of 62,000 returns. UNHCR began providing the means for Burundians to repatriate in 2002 but, in June, the Tripartite Commission of Tanzania, Burundi, and UNHCR moved to from "facilitation" to "promotion" of return.

About 23,700 Congolese refugees returned in 2006. Citing security concerns, UNHCR suspended repatriations ahead of the first and second rounds of the Congolese presidential election in July and October.

Detention/Access to Courts

Police arrested about 1,000 refugees and asylum seekers for leaving the vicinity of the camps. At the end of 2006, Tanzania held almost 860 refugees in jails or prisons. Refugee imprisonment in Kigoma dropped from 69 to 47 and in Kasulu from 755 to 433, due to laxer enforcement of the movement restrictions. However, authorities increasingly prosecuted refugees for minor infractions under the Refugees Act, which provided penalties of three days detention and/or community service, rather than under the immigration law, which called for up to two years in prison followed by deportation.

According to the U.S. Department of State, prison conditions were "harsh and life threatening." Diseases, especially malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and cholera, were common and often fatal. UNHCR had free access to refugee detainees in all prisons, monitored the status of refugee detainees, and provided them with personal items and medical services.

The 1977 Constitution (amended 1985) guaranteed the equality of all residents before the law and prohibited discrimination based on nationality. The location of the High Court and subordinate courts, limited to towns and cities, curtailed refugees' access. Refugees accessed mainly primary and magistrate courts located in rural areas near the refugee camps. The limited availability of interpreters also impeded refugee access to courts.

Tanzania allowed legal representation, but the Government did not provide it. In the last quarter of the year, advocates from the National Organization for Legal Assistance (NOLA) provided legal assistance to refugees under UNHCR's Strengthening Protection Capacity Project (SPCP).

The Government of Tanzania did not issue identity cards to refugees.

Freedom of Movement and Residence

The Refugee Act required asylum seekers and refugees to live in designated refugee camps or settlements. The Government vigorously enforced restrictions on unauthorized movement, and officials threatened those who engaged in it. Authorities issued permits to leave the camps for a maximum of 14 days, after which refugees applied to authorities for extensions. The Government apprehended and prosecuted about 1,000 refugees and asylum seekers for presence outside of designated areas without a permit. Refugees paid fines of about $39 or spent up to six months in prison for the infraction.

The Government allowed a few refugees to live outside of the camps for educational, medical, or security reasons. In the western region the Government allowed refugees to gather firewood, within about 2.5 miles (4 km) of the camps, but refugees often had to travel more than five miles outside of the camp as closer supplies were exhausted. These refugees, usually women and children, often suffered theft, physical abuse, and rape. During the year, however, such incidents decreased – only one reported rape between October and December – as they began traveling in groups. Refugees in camps near Kibondo could travel to the town with help from NGOs, but many were afraid to do so.

For about $16, refugees could apply for international travel documents to enable travel abroad and return with a visa.

The Constitution reserved to citizens its right to freedom of movement.

Right to Earn a Livelihood

The Refugees Act forbade refugees from working without permits and provided for fines up to $820 and six months in prison for violations, and the 1999 National Employment Promotion Services Act (Employment Service Act) forbade foreigners from working and handed out fines of up to $164 and three years imprisonment for violations. The Refugee Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Labor shared responsibility for the issuance, regulation, and renewal of work permits. The procedure for the issuance of work permits was unclear, and there were no reports of refugees receiving them. Despite the potential loss of freedom and fines, some refugees worked in local villages. The Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service ran income-generating projects for refugees in the camps. The Government and UNHCR encouraged it to suspend the projects to motivate refugees to repatriate, but it continued.

The Employment Service Act allowed self-employment and work for nonprofit or religious organizations but also permitted the Government to ban foreigners from specific fields and required employers of foreigners to create training programs to train Tanzanians for the jobs.

The Constitution extended to all its protection of property rights, and the law did not preclude refugees from owning land but required that the president grant permission to buy land. Refugees could own movable property, business, 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.

Public Relief and Education

The amount of food available to refugees through aid agencies fluctuated throughout the year, with refugees receiving their full rations only in three of the bi-weekly allotments in February and early March. The World Food Programme (WFP) provided food to refugees but reduced refugee rations to about 1,400 calories per person per day, or 69 percent of the UN-recommended daily level of beans, corn meal, corn-soya blend, salt, and oil.

UNHCR and its implementing partners provided basic assistance, clothing, and medical services to all refugees in camps. Campbased hospitals and clinics served nationals from surrounding communities. During the year, UNHCR signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health to introduce anti-retroviral treatment to refugees on par with nationals.

The Government generally allowed humanitarian agencies access to refugees but required permits for foreigners to travel to the camps.

The Refugee Act guaranteed refugees education on par with Tanzanian nationals "in accordance with the National Education Act of 1978." The 2003 National Refugee Policy (NRP), however, provided that schools should teach refugee children "in accordance with the curricula used in their countries of origin." The Government followed the latter, with UNHCR, UNICEF, and international donors funding it. Average enrollment of children in camps was 90 to 100 percent.

The NRP also noted, "refugees are human resources which could be utilized for the improvement of the economy and the better of life and living standards." The National Strategy for Growth and the Reduction of Poverty, which the Vice President's office prepared for international donors in 2005, only mentioned refugees as "external shocks" and "environmental disasters" to manage along with "epidemics, pest infestation, droughts, floods, major transport and industrial accidents, ... and fires." It did not include them in any development programs.

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