The United Nations refugee agency says a recent decision by the Tanzanian government to ban refugees from entering the African country in groups could undermine efforts to protect them.
Chansa Kapaya, the Tanzania representative for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said on Tuesday that the move would also hinder efforts to provide refugees with humanitarian assistance.
She added that all Burundians now entering Tanzania could face lengthy waits for an individually assessed claim to refugee status.
“UNHCR has yet to receive a formal communication from the government of Tanzania on the matter,” Kapaya was quoted by media outlets as saying.
“However, if what is reported in the media is a true reflection of the government’s position, then we believe that there will be implications on the quality of refugee protection and humanitarian assistance provided to refugees.”
Mwigulu Nchemba, Tanzania’s home affairs minister, announced last week on a visit to the western region of Kigoma that the government would no longer accept groups of refugees on the border. The minister said Tanzania instead would vet individual cases before granting refugee status.
“We will no longer allow entry to refugees who come in groups. Anyone seeking asylum has from now on to be individually assessed by the relevant authorities,” Nchemba said.
The undated photo shows Burundian refugee children.
Tanzania hosts more than 280,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mostly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Burundi.
Fleeing political turmoil and violence at home, some 10,000 Burundians arrived in Tanzania each month toward the end of 2016. The influx swelled three already overcrowded northwestern camps.
By Africafrique and agencies