The commander of the operation to weed out illegal immigrants,Assistant Commissioner of Police, Simon Sirro disclosed the figure in Dar es Salaam yesterday when briefing journalists of the operation dubbed “Kimbunga”.
He said: “We have declared them stateless citizens,” he said, adding: “The group is waiting for government action.”
ACP Sirro said in the first phase of the operation which ended on Friday at least 12,704 illegal immigrants were netted, but he added that the lack of national identities was the main bottleneck in netting illegal immigrants.
He said although some success has been registered in implementation of the presidential order, his team faced difficulties in tracking illegal immigrants because of the lack of national IDs.
“It is not easy to identify illegal immigrants in the absence of the national identities. Even after deporting the illegal immigrants, others found their way back due to inadequate security at the country’s porous borders,” he noted.
He also said that there were instances of malice whereby neighbours reported to the authorities about the existence of illegal immigrants in their midst “only for us to find out that they were Tanzanians.”
The first phase of the operation started on September 6, this year, after two weeks of grace period given by the government.
He said it is important that the government addresses such challenges so as to enable the force work more efficiently.
Out of the 12,704 who fell into the dragnet, 3,448 were Rwandese, 6125 Burundians, 2,496 Ugandans, 589 Congolese and 44 Somalis.
He said 1,852 suspected illegal immigrants were set free, while 2,286 are being questioned to establish their residential status. According to Sirro the operation also netted 222 suspected armed robbers and 23 suspected poachers.
Police also recovered 10 hand grenades, 61 guns including five sub-machine guns and 665 rounds of ammunition.
The second phase of operation Kimbunga to smoke out illegal immigrants started yesterday according to Sirro.
The operation was launched to solely sweep out illegal immigrants in three regions, Geita, Kagera and Kigoma after expiry of the two-week deadline given to illegal immigrants to leave voluntarily following President Jakaya Kikwete’s order.