Nyandwi Paulina, 51 Refugee from Burundi
“I fled for two reasons. Firstly, because of the war, and secondly, because of the death of my husband. When I lost him, I had no hope to stay.”

Paulina fled Burundi in 2015. A widow, she has scars from being cut with a bush knife during the flight, causing her to need surgery twice. 

“No, I do not want to return. I have no relatives, no land, nothing in Burundi. I can’t go home. I have no hope for Burundi, that’s why we see people arriving from there right now. There’s no hope for change.” 
Photo: Guri Romtveit/NRC

6 things to know about refugees in Tanzania

Your mind might jump to safaris and beaches at the mention of the East African country, but Tanzania is also a key host for refugees from its neighbouring countries.

Here are six key facts about the situation:

 

 

1. Tanzania is one of the world’s most generous refugee-hosting countries

In total, 335,000 refugees live in Tanzania. The 2015 elections in Burundi sparked widespread insecurity and a new influx of refugees into Tanzania. Old refugee camps were re-opened and new ones built.

Though Burundian refugees are in the majority, around one quarter of the refugees hosted by Tanzania are from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo. In DR Congo, conflict and widespread insecurity has forced millions to flee their homes, some of them making their way across Lake Tanganyika to Tanzania.

Instability in the neighbouring countries means that organisations constantly need to prepare for more refugees, although borders are mostly shut.

 

Samson, 28, Refugee from Burundi
“I’ve been here with my wife and child since June 2015.”
“There was a civil war and my father was killed. The people who killed him were monitoring his children, and so we decided to leave. 

I don’t want to return. I have nowhere to live in Burundi. They killed my father, so I have no peace to go back, even if things settle down.

There is no future here in the camp, other than depending on WFP for food. This is my home, in this plot, I depend on it. Maybe the next time I move, it will be to resettle in a third country. Only that. I have left everything to God.”

“We don’t celebrate Christmas because there’s nothing to celebrate. We have no money.” 
Photo: Guri Romtveit/NRC
Read caption Samson, 28, fled Burundi in 2015. He doesn’t see a bright future in Tanzania: “There is no future here in the camp, other than depending on WFP for food. Maybe the next time I move, it will be to resettle in a third country. Only that. I have left everything to God.” Photo: Guri Romtveit/NRC

2. Tanzania has hosted refugees for a long time

Tanzania has traditionally been very welcoming to refugees. Three decades ago, over one million refugees resided in the country. Because of Burundi’s civil war in the ’90s, caused by the conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups, hundreds of thousands of people fled to Tanzania.

Although most returned or received citizenship in Tanzania, some of these people still live in camps today.

Entering Mtendeli refugee camp, Tanzania, home to around 40,000 refugees from Burundi. 

Photo: Guri Romtveit/NRC
Read caption The road into Mtendeli refugee camp. The camp was first built to house refugees from Burundi in the ‘90s, but was re-opened after a new refugee influx from Burundi meant Tanzania again had to provide a home for people forced to flee. Photo: Guri Romtveit/NRC

3. Refugees are not allowed to leave the camps

The majority of refugees reside in three refugee camps, Nyarugusu, Mtendeli and Nduta, located in the north-western areas of the country. The refugee camps are full, and refugees are not allowed to leave the camps to work, trade or go to school.

Tanzania has signalled it will prioritise returning refugees to their home countries over local integration, which forms part of the reason for the strict encampment policy. The consequence, however, is fewer opportunities for refugees to make a living or contribute to Tanzania’s economy.

Nkurunziza Prospoer, 21, from Burundi
“Youth in the other courses get startup-kits after they graduate, what are we supposed to do?”

“I’ve been here since 2016. I want you to help  me find a place where I can study further, outside the camp.” 

“If they say you have to return, one hundred per cent I would not want to do it. I have no family there. It’s just me, my wife and child here.”

•	Whilst other youth in our vocational programmes are set up with the means to start their own business after the course is complete, this option is too expensive for a computer programme. 

Photo: Guri Romtveit/NRC
Read caption “I want you to help me find a place where I can study further, outside the camp,” says Prosper, 21, a refugee from Burundi studying ICT with NRC in Mtendeli camp. Refugees in Tanzania are not allowed to leave camps for work or school. Photo: Guri Romtveit/NRC

4. It’s becoming harder and harder to be a refugee in Tanzania

Last year, Tanzania withdrew from the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), an initiative aimed at finding solutions for refugees and improving the situation in refugee-hosting countries, including enabling refugees to integrate into the local economy. The withdrawal has contributed to massive underfunding of aid to refugees in the country.

The government of Tanzania has made life more difficult for refugees in the camps, restricting income-generating activities and making it harder to make money within the camps, for instance by closing markets.

Miyogusemga Aline, 19, from Makamba, Burundi (fled 2016)
“I hope you can help me, that is my wish. In my house, we are so very poor. There is no place here where you can go to make money. My family has nothing.” 

Photo: Guri Romtveit/NRC
Read caption “In my house, we are so very poor. There is no place here where you can go to make money. My family has nothing,” says Aline, 19, a refugee from Burundi. Photo: Guri Romtveit/NRC

5. The refugee response isn’t getting nearly enough money

Last year, donations amounted to just 27 per cent of the funds needed to assist refugees in Tanzania. This has caused massive shortcomings in terms of water, sanitation, shelter and education for refugees in the country. Refugees are desperately in need of serious support across all sectors, and 231 million dollars are needed to cover some of the most basic of these needs.

 

 

Butunga Apimo, 46, from DRC
Apimo has recently worked with NRC to build a new latrine for himself and his family. It’s lockable both from the outside and inside, so that Apimo and his family can ensure their privacy and exclusive right to their latrine.

Apimo is happy to have received a latrine, but has his heart set on another need for his family: “Can you bring us a water point as well?” 
Photo: Guri Romtveit/NRC
Read caption Apimo, 46, from DRC has worked with NRC to build a new latrine for himself and his family. It’s lockable both from the outside and inside, so that Apimo and his family can ensure their privacy and exclusive right to their latrine. Less than half of refugees in Nyarugusu camp have their own latrine. Photo: Guri Romtveit/NRC

6. For every classroom that exists, there is a need for eight more.

Overcrowding and a shortage of classrooms in Tanzania keep many displaced children from getting a good education. NRC is working to increase the space available for learning, and we’ve built 19 classrooms for formal and non-formal education.

In green: Bikorimana Jean Dieu, 10
In black: Ndizeyimana Clauvis, 10
Teacher: Nimbona Dieudonné, 36

NRC offers classes to children who have missed out on school and are not able to attend classes with children their own age. After attending our programme, kids can take a placement exam (with IRC) to be placed in formal education. Our classes take place on the other side of camp from the youth centre (5km), so to encourage more children to come to school, we also hold one class in the youth centre. 

Photo: Guri Romtveit/NRC
Read caption NRC holds classes for children who have missed out of school, so that they can prepare for a return to formal schooling. Clauvis (left) and Jean Dieu (right), both 10-year-old refugees from Burundi, are listening closely to teacher Dieudonné Nimbona. Photo: Guri Romtveit/NRC