U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2006 - Tanzania



Refoulement/Physical Protection

Tanzania continued to refoule large numbers of asylum seekers, including 36 Rwandans who claimed fear of the traditional gacaca courts established to address genocide cases there. In February, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Government forcibly repatriated nine asylum seekers to Burundi. Throughout the year, the Government deported 44 Burundian refugees and 3 Congolese from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa). In December, the Government also forced back about 200 asylum seekers who had camped along an unpatrolled area of the border with Burundi. The Government said many of them were refugees who had repatriated earlier, but it did not screen them.

Early in the year, the Government closed all the refugee reception centers in northwestern Tanzania. The Government ceased allowing Rwandan asylum seekers to apply for asylum but, after UNHCR intervened, it reviewed the process and began screening them again. In December, Kibondo's District Commissioner ordered all adult Burundian refugees to produce letters explaining why they did not want to return and threatened to close two of the three camps in the area saying, "I used to be a harmless barking dog, now I bark and I bite."

Nearly 62,000 Burundian refugees repatriated during the year, as compared with 83,000 the year before. The repatriations were nominally voluntary but the pervasive threat of refoulement, oppressive restrictions on movement and livelihoods, and reports of sexual exploitation by police in camps made claims of voluntary repatriation questionable.

The National Refugee Policy (NRP), passed by the Cabinet in 2003, stated that refugees "will not be expelled . . . except on grounds of national security or public order." The 1998 Refugees Act directed the Government to ensure that asylum seekers were not deported and required asylum seekers to apply for status with local authorities within seven days of entering. Failure to do so was a punishable offense. Normally, the National Eligibility Committee (NEC) decided asylum claims but local authorities began unilaterally screening new arrivals from Burundi and Congo-Kinshasa without allowing UNHCR to monitor. After UNHCR objected, the Government established ad hoc committees of local immigration and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) officials to screen them. The final authority to determine refugee status remained with the MHA, which could accept or reject the decisions of the NEC or the ad hoc committees. The MHA rejected far more Burundian than Congolese cases. The minister could also decide cases individually. The various decision making bodies together only granted asylum to a small number of applicants. The MHA had the authority to declare any group of persons to be prima facie refugees by notice in the government gazette, and its prior determination that Burundians and Congolese were refugees was still legally in effect.

In addition to Burundian and Congolese refugees in the northwest, there were also about 2,700 Somalis in a coastal settlement camp. The Government reviewed Somali cases for naturalization on an individual basis and granted citizenship to nearly 200 of them.

Detention/Access to Courts

The 1998 Refugees Act forbade detention of refugees or asylum seekers for illegal entry. There were no reports that the Government violated this prohibition but it detained many for leaving camps (see below). Delays in the judicial system resulted in long periods of detention, including for movement offenses. In Kibondo, delays in the screening process led to prolonged detention of refugees at transit stations.

Authorities often did not notify the relatives of accused refugees of their detention. Prisons often provided nothing but plastic sheeting for shelter. The U.S. State Department described Tanzanian prison conditions in general as "harsh and life-threatening." The Government, however, did allow UNHCR to visit prisons holding refugees in Dar es Salaam and in the west.

Crime was a serious problem in and around the camps but the Government did not adequately investigate, prosecute, or punish its perpetrators and often attributed any crime committed near a camp to refugees, regardless of their involvement. There were mediation councils and police patrols in the camps but they often did not refer cases to local authorities. Courts did not adequately prosecute most cases where refugees were victims, including cases of rape and murder. Reportedly, refugees occasionally resorted to vigilante justice by beating other refugees. In June, authorities found the bodies of a police officer and a refugee in Mtendeli camp.

The law entitled refugees to identification cards but the Government only issued them to those to whom it granted special permits to reside outside of the camps.

Freedom of Movement and Residence

The Government generally forbade refugees from leaving the camps in the country's western region but did allow them to gather firewood within about 2.5 miles (4 km) of the camps. With the approach of general elections in the fall, the Kibondo District Commissioner announced that refugees could not even do that, citing concerns that refugees would attempt to vote illegally. While local authorities did not enforce the prohibition on gathering firewood, those who did venture within the 2.5-mile limit, generally women and children, were subject to robbery, physical abuse, and rape. In late July, the Government detained 39 Ethiopian and Congolese refugees near the Mozambique border for being outside the camps without a permit.

The Government vigorously enforced the general movement restriction and, in many cases, violators remained incarcerated for six months because they could not pay the $43 (50,000 Shillings) fine or a bribe. The Government could also prosecute violators for unlawful presence under the Immigration Act, which provided for immediate deportation or two years imprisonment followed by deportation.

The Government granted a few refugees the right to reside outside the camps for educational, medical, or security reasons.

Right to Earn a Livelihood

The Government severely restricted refugee trade activity by keeping several camp markets closed. In December, the Kibondo District Commissioner announced a ban on all income-generating activities, even inside the camps, in order to dissuade refugees from remaining in Tanzania. In August, police destroyed refugee-owned shops in camps.

Local authorities allowed only Tanzanian nationals with special permission to trade in camp markets. Refugees in camps trained in weaving, carpentry, bread-making, shoe-making, woodcarving, and other trades that generated limited income but gave refugees a skill they could apply after repatriating. The movement restrictions prevented refugees from selling goods in towns and made it infeasible to obtain wood or other raw materials.

The 1998 Refugees Act forbade refugees from working without a permit and imposed a fine for violations of about $200 (200,000 Shillings), up to three years' imprisonment, or both. The Government rarely prosecuted refugees for violation of the work permit law but limited work by strictly enforcing and prosecuting movement restrictions. Woman and children in the camps sometimes resorted to prostitution.

The NRP prohibited refugees from owning land, but allocated 38-by-38 yard plots to each household for shelter and "kitchen gardening" within the camps. The Government continued to forbid refugees from occupying and farming plots of land left vacant by other refugees who had repatriated. The Government allowed refugees to own businesses and transfer capital. The 1998 Refugees Act required refugees to turn over all personal property to the Government at the time of repatriation for fair compensation.

The Government granted more land and applied fewer restrictions to refugees who had been living for decades in the Mishamo, Katumba, Ulyankulu, and Chogo settlements.

Public Relief and Education

Persistent shortfalls in funding forced the World Food Programme to keep rations at only 78 percent of acceptable standards for caloric intake, which was 60 percent of previous levels. Several times, it had to suspend rations altogether. A survey completed in September showed that malnutrition and anemia among children had increased compared to previous years, but overall health status was acceptable by World Health Organization standards.

UNHCR and its implementing partners provided free primary education to all refugee children in all the camps. Refugee students who passed exams were able to attend secondary and tertiary schools, although they had to pay fees. The Government allowed these students to leave the camps for study. Nongovernmental organizations provided scholarships to 76 children for higher education.

Refugees received free medical services and other supplies. Tanzanian nationals also received services at camp hospitals and clinics, although this reportedly did little to stem local resentment of the burden that they perceived the camps placed on them.


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