Tanzania hosted approximately 295,000 refugees at the end of 1997: some 230,000 from Burundi, 60,000 from Congo/Zaire, and 5,000 from other countries. In addition, two population groups not officially considered refugees lived in Tanzania in refugee-like circumstances. One group consisted of an estimated 10,000 Rwandans who fled to Tanzania in 1994 and have refused to repatriate. Some of them have continued to seek asylum, but Tanzanian authorities did not consider them refugees. The second group consisted of some 100,000 or more Burundians and some Rwandans who fled to Tanzania in previous decades and continued to live there in 1997. Although Tanzania continued to grant refuge to large numbers of people, government authorities expelled thousands of Rwandans and Burundians in 1997, many of whom might have been refugees. Some of those expelled had resided in Tanzania for many years. USCR conducted a site visit to Tanzania in mid-1997. Refugees from Burundi Tanzania has hosted large numbers of Burundian refugees for decades, due to endemic political and ethnic violence in Burundi. Massive numbers of new refugees, mostly ethnic Hutu, began arriving in Tanzania in late 1996 and continued to arrive in early 1997. Some 20,000 to 30,000 Burundians entered Tanzania in the first three months of the year. Some of them had been refugees in Congo/Zaire who were forced to flee again by Congo/Zaire's civil war. An additional 25,000 fled to Tanzania during May-June, according to UNHCR. Thousands more flowed into Tanzania late in the year. Many arrived in poor physical condition after living as displaced persons inside Burundi. UNHCR and NGOs conducted a refugee census at mid-year that found earlier estimates of the refugee population to be vastly overstated. Aid workers settled the refugees into eight main camps stretching along Tanzania's entire border with Burundi. Humanitarian conditions at the camps were generally fair, despite problems with water shortages and inadequate farming plots at some sites. Several of the newest camps lacked enough schools. Bad roads and heavy rains late in the year seriously disrupted delivery of food and other assistance. Political factions among the refugee population created tensions and occasional violence. Hostilities within the refugee camps killed about ten camp residents in late 1996-early 1997. Aid officials expressed concern that Burundian rebels might use the refugee camps as military bases for recruitment and training to launch incursions into Burundi. Tanzanian officials warned refugees to avoid involvement in military activities. A special UNHCR fact-finding mission reported no evidence of military training in the refugee camps, but did find extensive political activity. A USCR report in December urged Tanzanian authorities and the international community to "ensure that refugee camps are not used as bases for military activity aimed at destabilizing neighboring countries." USCR's report noted that Tanzania is located in a Central Africa region "where the failure of the international community to separate combatants from legitimate refugees has been a recurring problem." Despite the influx of tens of thousands of new Burundian refugees during the year, the overall number of Burundians in Tanzania remained relatively stable because large numbers repatriated to Burundi. Many repatriated from Tanzania voluntarily because of improved conditions in some regions of Burundi, or because of dissatisfaction with conditions in Tanzania. Others repatriated involuntarily or under duress because of Tanzanian government policies. Refugees from Congo/Zaire The eruption of civil war in October 1996 pushed an estimated 40,000 Congolese/Zairian refugees into Tanzania late that year. The influx continued unabated in the first weeks of 1997, at a rate of 1,000 new arrivals per day. Many reached Tanzania by boat across Lake Tanganyika, often paying the equivalent of a $10 fare to make the trip. Most of the refugees, about 80 percent of them ethnic Babembe, settled into two camps, each with a population of nearly 40,000. UNHCR originally estimated the Congolese/Zairian refugee population to be 95,000, but up to 10,000 spontaneous repatriations and a mid-year census produced a count of about 75,000 refugees by August. The rapid refugee influx and poor road conditions complicated relief efforts early in the year and created dissension among some refugees. Food rations at one camp initially were 25 percent less than normally needed to maintain minimum health conditions, and water shortages initially left some refugees with only a third of the water supply normally judged acceptable. Refugees at one camp protested camp conditions in April, forcing a temporary evacuation of aid staff. USCR conducted a site visit to a Congolese refugee camp in mid year. USCR reported that conditions at the site were "reasonably good." Refugees were clearly divided in their opinions about repatriation, and "hard-line...elements in the refugee camps have...sought to inhibit repatriation for political reasons," USCR reported. A formal repatriation program began in September after delays of several months caused by violence in returnee areas of Congo/Zaire and bureaucratic obstacles posed by the Tanzanian government. Returning refugees departed Tanzania on boats hired by UNHCR. About 7,000 persons repatriated with UNHCR assistance during September-October before security concerns in Congo/Zaire caused a one-month suspension of the program. Organized repatriation resumed in late November. By year's end, at least 25,000 refugees‹perhaps more‹had voluntarily repatriated to Congo/Zaire with or without UNHCR assistance. The vast majority of refugees still in Tanzania indicated to UNHCR that they were ready to repatriate with UNHCR help. Rwandans Nearly a half-million Rwandan refugees repatriated from Tanzania in late 1996. An estimated 50,000 ethnic Hutu Rwandans refused to repatriate and remained in Tanzania at the start of 1997. Their refugee status, however, was uncertain. Tanzanian officials indicated that all Rwandan asylum seekers who remained in Tanzania were required to congregate at a designated camp so that officials could conduct interviews to determine their refugee status. Officials warned that they would expel Rwandans found outside the designated camp. Many Rwandans refused to live at the designated site and fled to other areas of Tanzania or posed as Burundian refugees to avoid expulsion. Tanzanian authorities continued throughout 1997 to consider Rwandans dispersed in western Tanzania to be "illegal aliens" subject to expulsion. Officials warned local citizens not to shelter or employ Rwandans. Local residents in some areas complained that Rwandans were committing armed robberies. A small number of new Rwandan asylum seekers arrived in Tanzania during 1997. Tanzanian authorities operated a National Eligibility Committee to identify refugees among both "new" and "old" Rwandans. UNHCR had an advisory position on the committee, but no voting powers. Given uncertainty about the actual number of Rwandans in Tanzania and whether they were refugees, USCR classified them as "refugee-like." Expulsions A series of expulsions, border closures, and crackdowns against refugees and other foreigners in recent years has altered Tanzania's reputation as one of the world's most generous asylum countries. Tanzanians have expressed concerns about armed elements and criminals among refugee populations, environmental degradation caused by massive refugee camps, and chronic instability in neighboring countries. Tanzanian authorities forcibly expelled more than 100 Burundian refugees in January 1997 after violence erupted at a refugee site. Most of the refugees were killed within hours of their forced return to Burundi. A Tanzanian official and state radio said that "the situation in Burundi is not as threatening" as commonly believed, raising the specter of additional expulsions. USCR publicly stated that the January refoulement of Burundian refugees by Tanzanian authorities was "unconscionable" and urged that such expulsions were a "grievous wrong" that "should cease." USCR noted that "Tanzanian authorities' tactic of downplaying the dangers in Burundi does a grave disservice to terrified Burundians who have fled to Tanzania for protection, and who rely on authorities for accurate information about conditions for repatriation." Tanzanian officials subsequently stated that the expulsions of Burundians in January were unauthorized. Tanzania's vice president pledged in March that authorities would not expel Burundian refugees. However, the government carried out several widely publicized crackdowns against refugees and other foreigners from Rwanda, Burundi, and Congo/Zaire living outside of designated areas. Tanzanian authorities expelled some 5,000 Rwandans early in the year, saying they were illegal aliens. Security personnel conducted a sweep late in the year that detained an additional 28,000 Burundians, Rwandans, and Congolese/Zairians. Most detainees reportedly were transported to refugee camps or transit centers, but thousands were expelled from Tanzania. Some expelled nationals charged that Tanzanian security personnel beat and raped them during the crackdown. UNHCR, concerned that many expelled persons might have valid refugee claims, urged the government to halt the expulsions and undertake proper screening procedures to determine individuals' refugee status. Tanzanian authorities belatedly agreed to establish a special committee to screen individuals prior to deportation. Among those forced out of Tanzania late in the year were 2,000 Rwandan Tutsi who had lived in Tanzania for decades, where they had become well integrated. They were no longer classified as refugees. The expulsions forced them to leave behind property, businesses, and family members in Tanzania. A Tanzanian government official announced in December that some expelled Rwandan Tutsi could return to Tanzania if they met certain requirements.

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