Govt to offer more Burundi refugees citizenship

20Apr 2016
Polycarp Machira
The Guardian
Govt to offer more Burundi refugees citizenship

TANZANIA plans to offer more Burundi refugees in the country citizenship by the end of the year, Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Masauni Masauni told the parliament yesterday.

masauni

He said the government in collaboration with UNHCR is in the final stages of carrying out physical verification on those who deserve to be granted citizenship as promised by the president.

“It is our plan that the process be complete by the end of this year so that those refugees who merit nationality be granted in accordance with the law,” he noted.

The deputy minister was responding to a question asked by Nsimbo MP, Richard Mbogo (CCM) who had wanted to know when the government would complete the naturalisation process of Burundi refugees in the country and allow those who are not willing to remain Tanzania to go back to their country.

The legislator argued that in 2009 the government offered citizenship to Burundians refugees who came to the country in 1972 and those born in the country at Katumba, Mushano and Ulyankulu refugee camps, but wondered when remaining refugees would be granted the same.

According to the MP, the government ought to had dissolve the camps in accordance with section 20 of the Refugees Act , 1998, saying those who live in the areas should already be citizens.

He also wanted to know why many of the refugees at the camps were denied citizenship in 2009.

But the deputy minister said only 8,800 refugees out of 172,000 were granted citizenship because they qualified.

He noted that the majority did not qualify for the offer basing on the records, adding that some had criminal records among other factors that barred them from becoming citizens.

Masauni said most residents of Katumba, Ulyankulu and Mishamo have been given citizenship, adding that his ministry in collaboration with local government authorities are working on the process to de-gazette the areas as refugee camps, hence become normal villages according to the law.