Dar es Salaam, 29th August 2011 (UNHCR) – During his four-day visit to Tanzania from 24 to 27 August 2011, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees T. Alexander Aleinikoff met with various Government officials to discuss the state of the refugee operations in Tanzania.
Of special interest during these discussions was the relocation exercise for 162,000 former Burundian refugees currently settled in Rukwa and Tabora Region and the need to find durable solutions for the two remaining refugee camps in Northwestern Tanzania.
In discussions with the Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees expressed his gratitude for the unprecedented humanitarian gesture of the Tanzanian Government to naturalize 162,000 former Burundian refugees.
“This is a historic contribution to regional stability”, said Aleinikoff after the meeting, “UNHCR and the international community will work with the Government of Tanzania to complete this exercise and locally integrate these naturalized individuals”.
He stated that UNHCR is ready to provide final integration support at district level for the naturalized refugees from the Old Settlements and seeks to engage development actors.
While the Prime Minister confirmed the commitment of the Tanzanian Government on the completion of the relocation and integration exercise, he also noted that the Government needs to hold further consultations on the way forward.
The UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees also met with the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Shamsi Vuai Nahodha, who stated that the Government is working on a lasting solution for this protracted refugee situation, reminding the international community to keep their promise to support the Local Integration Program.
With regards to the two remaining refugee camps in Northwestern Tanzania, Mr Nahodha reiterated the Government’s intention to close Mtabila camp for Burundian refugees by 31 December 2011.
Interviews with all 38,000 remaining refugees are to commence within the month of September in order to determine which individuals are still in need of international protection. The interviews will be conducted in a joint exercise by the Ministry of Home Affairs and UNHCR Tanzania.
Aleinikoff agreed that voluntary repatriation is the best solution for those Burundian refugees in Mtabila camp. However, he reminded the Government that any repatriation has to be conducted in a manner that is duly compliant with the standards and principles of international refugee protection.
As for the remaining 61,000 Congolese refugees in Nyarugusu camp, the general concern is to reassess the situation and conditions in the DRC after elections have taken place in November 2011. Meanwhile, repatriation will continue to be facilitated by the Ministry of Home Affairs and UNHCR for those individuals who are willing to return home voluntarily.
His four-day mission also gave the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees the chance to meet with some donors, development partners and UN Heads of Agencies, and with selected law students from the University of Dar es Salaam who are engaged in an Advanced Course on Migration and Refugee Law.
Aleinikoff further paid a visit to some of the UNHCR operations in the field such as Mtabila camp in Kasulu Region and Ulyankulu Settlement in Tabora Region in order to interact with the people of concern to UNHCR and the UNHCR field staff.