They made the suggestion when speaking in Dar es Salaam at the editors’ workshop on refugee protection in Tanzania.
Organised by Dignity Kwanza—the NGO dealing with human dignity and inclusive development, the workshop was aimed at sensitising media personnel about refugees protection and their role in the refugee protection ecosystem.
A university don, Dr Juliana Masabo said that in most cases refugees often arrive in the host nation with nothing, but with their skills, which need to be utilised.
The only way is to ensure that they are being given opportunities to explore their skills, talents, aspirations, rather than leaving them in camps, the expert suggested.
“We need to integrate them,” Dr Masabo said when presenting a paper at the workshop on protracted refugees situation and protection challenges.
She urged countries like Tanzania (which hosts more than 300,000 refugees and asylum seekers) to use them for the economic gain as Uganda did.
Uganda is one of the best examples in this as experts said the East African nation gives refugees economic opportunities as it had accorded them the right to work. It gives them freedom of movements. And the results of that are extraordinary both for refugees and the host community.
In the capital city, Kampala, 21 per cent of refugees own businesses that employs other people, and 40 per cent of those employees are nationals of the host country.
In Uganda, refugees are making jobs for citizens of the host country. Even in the camps, it’s easy to find extraordinary examples of vibrant, flourishing and entrepreneurial businesses.
This is also seen in the new Zambia settlement, an initiative that lets refugees live alongside the local community.
Mwajabu Khalid, legal services and policy advocacy manager, Dignity Kwanza, said: “In many countries issues related to migration have many challenges and most of them are linked to security concerns. Tanzania is not far from this reality.”
“Hosting refugees have its challenges but also there are international commitments that states had pledged to meet standards of protection.”
She however said: “In Tanzania we have strict encampment policy where refugees are supposed to live in designated areas contrary to international standards of protection.”
She, however said that media has a big role to play in ensuring that refugees’ rights are protected.
Currently, Tanzania hosts 329,577 refugees and asylum seekers, primarily from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo with 87 per cent living in camps in the western region of Kigoma.