Government of Tanzania brings together ‘whole of society’ to implement landmark refugee reforms

Tanzania leads broad range of stakeholders to launch key commitments that will safeguard over 300,000 refugees

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania – The Government of Tanzania has announced the launch of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) in Tanzania that will seek to implement a radical shift in refugee protection towards a more systematic and sustainable response.

At a launch ceremony on Friday 02 June, at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre, the Government and a broad range of stakeholders including UN agencies, international financial institutions, humanitarian and development actors, members of civil society and academia committed to work together to strengthen the protection and rights of refugees, support the greater inclusion of refugees within society and recognise and foster development opportunities for refugees and host communities.

“For decades, Tanzania has been proud to provide safety and protection to people fleeing war, violence and persecution,” said Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Hon. Engineer Hamadi Massauni (MP), who officiated the event. “Tanzania recognises the unity of people, and we look forward to working alongside partners, both old and new, towards ensuring refugees and host communities in Tanzania are given the best opportunities to live alongside one another prosperously and peacefully.”

The acting Director of Regional Administration, Ibrahimu Minja added that the prosperity of refugees and host communities are symbiotically linked. “Host communities in north-western Tanzania continue to welcome thousands of new arrivals each month,” he said. “It is critical that in the spirit of collective action and responsibility-sharing, they are supported by the international community to ensure refugees continue to be hosted in safety and dignity.”

Tanzania has volunteered to be a pilot country for the development of the CRRF, a game-changing commitment from 193 states agreed at last year’s UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants to develop a holistic and sustainable refugee response that reinforces legal protection of refugees while bolstering support for host communities. UN member states are set to adopt a Global Compact on Refugees in 2018, based on the lessons learned from applying the CRRF in Tanzania as well as other pilot countries.

“We need to close the gap between humanitarian and development assistance,” said Danish Ambassador to Tanzania Einar Jensen, speaking on behalf of development partners. “We need smart and good solutions that allow refugees to look after themselves and be productive. We are ready to put all our efforts behind the CRRF, and strongly support Tanzania as a pilot country.”

As part of the New York Declaration, Tanzania made five pledges towards strengthening the protection of refugees and asylum-seekers. At the launch, Government reconfirmed its pledges to:

1.    Continue to receive people fleeing war, political instability and persecution;
2.    Review the 1998 Refugees Act and the 2003 National Refugee Policy to ensure refugee protection is in line with international law and current realities:
3.    Provide durable solutions to the remaining 1972 Burundian refugees who applied for Tanzanian citizenship but have not been naturalized;
4.    Strengthen refugee protection by enhancing their access to education and employment; and
5.    Support the global compact on refugees, once adopted.
“The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) stands ready to support Tanzania and the CRRF Secretariat in its efforts to enhance support for refugees and host communities,” said UNHCR Representative to Tanzania, Ms. Chansa Kapaya. “There is an urgent need for understanding that the dramatic growth in the suffering of people who have fallen victim to war and persecution requires an equally dramatic growth in financial support, and for innovative, new ways of working to meet their basic needs. By adopting a ‘whole of society’ approach, we are excited to welcome new allies to join us, hand in hand, in a comprehensive, sustainable response to refugees.”

“We have an opportunity to show that when refugees are given the right opportunities and support, they can support themselves and their families, and become important contributors to the communities hosting them,” said Country Director of Tanganyika Christian Refugee Services, Emmanuel Shangweli, speaking on behalf of NGOs. “Tanzania is a country to showcase, and we are ready to work with other actors to produce tangible results and complement each other’s work.”

Tanzania is the largest host of Burundian refugees in the region with over 312,000 refugees and asylum-seekers (figures as at end of April) including over 250,000 Burundian refugees received since the outbreak of violence in Bujumbura in 2015. Significant numbers of new arrivals continue to flee to Tanzania each month, where they are provided with critical aid in the three refugee camps in the north-west. However, the humanitarian response continues to face significant challenges in providing life-saving aid and key basic services. To date, just four per cent of the US$ 406 million needed for the humanitarian response to Burundian refugees in Tanzania has been received.