The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, concluded a visit to the United Republic of Tanzania today with a call for more donor support for solutions, including sustainable voluntary returns.
During his three-day visit, Grandi met with Tanzania’s President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, and discussed the importance of creating favourable conditions for the return of Burundian refugees, while ensuring all refugees in Tanzania are protected and assisted.
Tanzania currently hosts over 248,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and most reside in the Nduta and Nyarugusu refugee camps in the country’s Kigoma region. Since September 2017, some 142,000 Burundian refugees have voluntarily returned to Burundi.
He commended Tanzania and its people for their longstanding history of welcoming and hosting refugees, as well as efforts in advancing protection and solutions for refugees in the country, in line with the Global Compact on Refugees.
“I am truly encouraged by the Government’s efforts to strengthen the protection of refugees, and stand alongside it,” Grandi said. “UNHCR’s commitment to support Tanzania and safeguard the rights of refugees hosted here remains steadfast.”
In Nyarugusu refugee camp, in the northwest of the country, Grandi met with Burundian and Congolese refugees, partners and local authorities. He visited a vocational centre in the camp where refugees and Tanzanians from the nearby villages were learning practical skills such as tailoring and vegetable gardening side by side. Grandi interacted with communities involved in a community biomass briquette production project, which aims to reduce the dependency on firewood and prevent environmental degradation.
He lauded the Tanzania Government’s recent efforts to issue birth certificates to refugee children, noting that the move would confer important legal protections on them and reduce the risk of statelessness, while also providing a form of identity when they return to their country of origin.
Grandi also witnessed how funding shortfalls are directly impacting humanitarian efforts on the ground. As of August 2022, UNHCR had received only 27 per cent of the resources needed in Tanzania for this year.
“The Burundi situation remains significantly underfunded’” Grandi said. “I appeal to donors, including development partners, to provide funding and investment in Tanzania and boost the provision of basic services. Lack of funding would risk reversing hard-won gains.” He also called for enhanced support in Burundi to help tackle obstacles hindering returns.
“Tanzania has for over four decades generously hosted large numbers of refugees, and we must not let them down,” Grandi stressed.
“We will continue to work with the Government and partners to improve the well-being and livelihoods of refugees and the host communities in Tanzania, and support the voluntary return of refugees to Burundi,” he added.
Grandi’s visit follows a High-Level Dialogue convened by the Government of Tanzania and UNHCR in March 2022 to agree on steps to strengthen refugee protection and solutions.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).