Refugees appeal for  special identity cards  

12Feb 2019
Getrude Mbago
The Guardian
Refugees appeal for  special identity cards  

REFUGEES in the country have appealed to the government and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide them with special identity cards (IDs) to enable them move freely and access public services in towns and cities.

Nyarugusu refugee camp in Kasulu District, Kigoma Region.

They made the appeal recently when the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi visited Nyarugusu refugee camp in Kasulu District, Kigoma Region.

“Having the IDS on our hands, will also help authorities to recognise us easily wherever we go, even if someone tries to cross the border or do anything illegal…the government should think about this and see how to act upon,” said Ndairagize Joseph, a Burundian refugee at Nyarugusu camp.

According to him, currently, authorities only furnish them with a special document which does not help them when they are outside the camp as they sometimes get in trouble with security bodies.

Pundensia Fidelis (56) from Congo said “We have to be careful moving outside the camp without IDs because we fear getting in trouble with authorities. Especially if we go out in the forests and farms to fetch for firewood or other materials, it becomes hard for us to be confident.”

She said that, for refugees having the IDs will also stimulate economic growth as they will be able to travel in cities and sell their products which they produce in the camps.

Another refugee, Mtambara Siwatwa from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) called upon authorities to allow open market to be conducted for three days   at the camp.

“The common market is held once in a week; the event brings traders and customers from in and outside the camp displaying and selling various food and non-food products. The market is very important as it unites locals and refugees and stimulate economic growth,” Siwatwa added.

Responding the Grandi said that he will take the recommendation and discuss with the government to see how it can be implemented.

According to him, UNHCR in collaboration with government  has done the same in other countries     where refugees had been provided with special IDs, so it will not be difficult being done in Tanzania as well.

The UN official also said that refugees should never be pressured to decide if they should return to their home countries.

According to him, refugees need to have a meaningful choice about whether they wish to return based on the facts and realities on the ground. There should not be any direct or indirect pressure exercised on refugees to choose whether to return.

“Conditions are still uncertain in both DRC and Burundi,” Grandi said noting that nevertheless some refugees are volunteering to go back and are supported by UNHCR. “It is important that nobody is forced back, that repatriation remains a voluntary exercise.”

He called for more international support to ensure refugees who return voluntarily are able to successfully reintegrate in their countries of origin.

The UN High Commissioner who last week conducted his four-day visit in the county also met President John Magufuli to convey UNHCR’s appreciation for the government's longstanding generosity towards those fleeing conflicts and persecution, welcome their commitment to the Global Compact on Refugees.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organisation dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people.