UNHCR: Tanzania hosting third largest number of new refugees

24Jun 2016
Prosper Makene
The Guardian
UNHCR: Tanzania hosting third largest number of new refugees

The Global trends report released earlier this week by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN’s refugee agency, says that Tanzania hosts the third largest number of new refugees.

Refugees in Nyarugusu Camp, Kasulu District in Kigoma Regions pay attention to the commemoration of their D-Day.

The report also states that there were more forcibly displaced people worldwide as a result of persecution, conflicts, generalised violence, or human rights violations than at any time since the Second World War.

According to UNHCR’s Annual Global Trends Report as of the end of 2015, more than 65.3 million people were in situations of displacement compared to 59.5 million at the end of 2014.

That is an increase of 5.8 million people in 12 months and the first time that the threshold of 60 million has been crossed.
Speaking at the commemoration of World Refugees Day in Kasulu District, Kigoma Region on Monday, UNHCR representative in Tanzania, Chansa Kapaya said that with the outbreak of violence in Burundi in April last year, nearly 123,400 individuals have fled to Tanzania, causing it to host the third-largest number of new refugees.

Kapaya also said that the Burundi refugee influx came at a time when the UNHCR operation in Tanzania was focusing its efforts on finding durable solutions that would permit the existing refugee population to rebuild their lives.

She pointed out that Tanzania had just announced the historic, unprecedented granting of naturalisation to the 1972 Burundian refugees in Tabora and Katavi regions, while the United States of America had agreed to resettle 30,000 Congolese (DR) refugees living in Nyarugusu camp in Kigoma Region.

“Since the beginning of the influx, over 141,000 Burundians have fled to Tanzania in search of refuge making it the largest host to Burundian refugees in the region.

During the peak of the influx and even now, one year later, women and children account for 77.9 percent of the new arrivals,” she said.

She further noted, a significant number of newly arrived Burundian refugees, including children born in Tanzania (63,961) are sheltered in Nyarugusu camp, which was now one of the largest refugee camps in the world hosting 131,733 refugees.
Conditions are very difficult and UNHCR has put a priority on decongesting the camp.

She underscored that the remaining refugee population resides an Nduta and Mtendeli refugee camps, opened in October 2015 and January 2016 respectively, to ease congestion at Nyarugusu and at the same time host the new arrivals.
However, Nduta reached its capacity at the beginning of April 2016, and has reached capped at approximately 55,000 Burundian refugees.

New arrivals from border points are now received in Mtendeli whose population has increased to 21,796 refugees.
According to her, “A third site, Karago, is projected to be re-established as a refugee camp, although the limited availability of water has frustrated efforts to operationalise it. Uncertainty remains as to whether it would be able to support the expected 50,000 refugees,” she worried.

The donor community has been very generous in providing support to the Burundian refugee emergency response, and has demonstrated a willingness to share the burden with Tanzania, UNHCR and other UN agencies and NGO partners, who have responded to the humanitarian call, she observed.

She further detailed that that significant resources are however still required, across all sectors, to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs of refugees.

UNHCR Tanzania is funded at 40 percent for its Burundi emergency response this year with a gap of USD 44.8 million as of 19 June 2016.

Kapaya said that prior to this influx of Burundian refugees in April 2015, Nyarugusu Camp the only single remaining refugee camp in Tanzania, had the capacity of accommodating just over 65,000 refugees mainly Congolese DRC.

“As result of the political and civil unrest in Burundi, Nyarugusu in addition becomes a home to thousands of Burundian refugees hitting to around 100,000 refugees,” she said.

She insisted: “Nyarugusu today hosts a total population of 131,733 refugees. The decongestion of Nyarugusu remains a top priority for UNHCR as the present camp population still exceeds the carrying capacity of the camp which is 50,000 refugees.”

Nduta camp reached its capacity at the beginning of April 2016 and hosts approximately 55,000 Burundian refugees. New asylum seekers coming from the border entry points are now received at Mtendeli camp whose population has increased to 21,796.

Since the beginning of the influx of refugees, over 141,000 Burundians are being hosted in Tanzania, making it a country with the largest number of Burundian refugees in the region followed by Rwanda and Uganda.

“The Burundian conflict has once again brought us to a stark and grim reality of the impact of displacement on refugees and the need for the international community to mobilise resources to support those in dire need of humanitarian assistance,” she called on.

UNHCR Tanzania has remained significantly underfunded, with resources needed across all sectors to respond to the urgent needs of refugees and their host communities.

The UNHCR boss in Tanzania said that the generosity demonstrated by the host communities who share their limited resources with refugees should also be recognised and acknowledged.

“Today is also a day to remember that no one becomes a refugee by choice, and yet today there are more than 65.3 million people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes.

UNHCR and partners are facing unprecedented challenges in meeting the needs of these millions of people fleeing conflict and human rights abuses across the globe,” she said

The committed support and generous contributions of the international community is vital for us to continue our work on the one hand, but we also need everyone else’s involvement and support to find solutions to forced displacement.
This year UNHCR launched a major campaign dubbed #WithRefugees that asks the world to stand together.

She further said that the campaign aimed at demonstrating public support for families forced to flee against the backdrop of dramatically increased displacement from conflict and persecution on the one hand, and heightened anti-refugee rhetoric and greater restrictions to asylum on the other.

The petition will be delivered in advance of September’s historic UN High-Level Plenary of the General Assembly in New York on Addressing large movements of refugees and migrants.

In his statement Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees and head of UNHCR said “Today the number, complexity and protracted nature of today’s conflicts mean that forced displacement has now reached a level unprecedented since the founding of the UN itself.

Substantially over 60 million people are now uprooted around the world. Each day another refugee tragedy is played out in the media; of children, mothers and fathers losing their lives in a desperate bid to escape violence,”