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STATEMENT BY AMB. HASSAN YAHYA SIMBA, DEPUTY PERMANENT SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS ON GOVERNMENT OF TANZANIA PERSPECTIVES ON THE PROTECTION AND SOLUTIONS FOR REFUGEES IN TANZANIA DELIVERED AT THE HIGH-LEVEL DIALOGUE WITH THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH

Thursday, August 10, 2017

 
Hon, Mwigulu Lameck Nchemba - Minister for Home Affairs
Hon Rtd Major General Raphael Mugoya – Regional Commissioner Katavi
Hon Rtd Brigadier General Emanuel Maganga Regional Commissioner of Kigoma
Distinguished Regional Administrative Secretaries
Hon District Commissioners for Ngara
Distinguished Senior Government Officials
Mr. Volker Turk, UNHCR, Assistant High Commissioner – Protection, Geneva
Ms. Catherine Wiesner, Regional Refugee Coordinator (Burundi), Nairobi
Valentin Tapsoba, Director, UNHCR Regional Bureau for Africa, Geneva
Mr.  Mamadou Dian Balde, Deputy Director, Comprehensive Response CRRF, Geneva
Ms. Chansa Ruth Kapaya, UNHCR Country Representative
Senior UNHCR Officials
 
Distinguished Participants,
 
Ladies and Gentlemen;
 Good morning.
 
 
It gives me great pleasure to participate in this high level diaologue on key issues on asylum and protection for people that are compelled to seek refuge in our country. On behalf of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, I wish to extend my appreciation to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for timely facilitating this  High-Level Dialogue, availing a sound platform to our two sides to ponder on the challenges we all face in undertaking this important and noble endevour.
 
Ladies and Gentlemen;
 
As a nation  signatory to the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its Subsequent 1967 Protocol, as well as the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the specific aspects of refugee problems in Africa, the United Republic of Tanzania has over the years shouldered her International obligation as a Host Nation with courage, determination and humility, in line with International Law, practice and norms.  In the pursuit of those  International obligations, the United Republic of Tanzania continues to keep her doors open to genuine and credible victims of persecution in need of International Protection and Asylum.
I want to start by stating emphatically that the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania will continue with its long-standing tradition of  honouring the right of persons fleeing genuine persecutions  in  their home countries. Just like all other countries, we are obliged to institute necessary procedures to protect the integrity of the asylum and protection space in line with international law and Tanzania’s domestic legislation, which permits only those persons who fulfil conditions to receive refugee status.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Addressing large movements of refugees and migrants as exemplified by the Tanzanian experience is a challenging undertaking, and hence cannot be left to host countries alone.  International action and co-operation built along a continuum between relief and developmental actors is not only necessary but a fundamental principal that must be adopted as a contemporary measure to address current challenges facing refugee hosting.  The Humanitarian regime can no longer cope with the escalating and mounting development challenges posed by today’s mass movement of refugees, thus calling for development approaches to interface and compliment the Humanitarian Regime.
As a developing country, the task of hosting refugees becomes even more over-burdening amid scarce resources being allocated to the World refugee agency.  Our refugee operations in Tanzania is increasingly underfunded, currently operating below 30% of our needed budget, forcing our country to deep into its budgetary allocation to supplement refugee operations in a number of social services.  Given the mounting humanitarian crisis we now face, it is becoming clear that the current Humanitarian system will certainly collapse, if left on its own.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Experience is abound in our regions of Kigoma, Kagera, Katavi and Tabora on the devastating impact of large movements of refugees to the economy and environment surrounding Host Communities. It is therefore imperative contemplate on how to address development challenges facing Host communities.  For many years, we have taken for granted the important and significant role played by host communities in the management of refugees, especially the assurance of peaceful co-existence amid scarcity of basic needs such as water.  In most scenarios, refugee camps and settlements tend to enjoy superior education, health, water and sanitation facilities compared to the adjacent host communities.  This practice over the years in some instances, has created friction among these societies, at times unleashing acts of xenophobic tendencies that go along to destroy whichever good relations had hiertho existed.  The future management of large number of refugee in our country cannot be allowed to continue along this path.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Support to host communities and building social cohesion are crucial.  The voices of the people most affected must inform and be at the centre of planning and action.  Host communities are first to absorb the shocks of a major influx of refugees or internally-displaced people, and they demonstrate tremendous generosity as has been the case in our country.  In both rural and urban settings however, local people often experience competition for economic opportunities, increased cost of basic necessities and decreased access to basic services.  This leads to social strains.  We both must strive, to address this issue.   In the United Republic of Tanzania, part of our new policy like the 2030 Agenda for sustainable Development which pledges that “no one will be left behind”, will focus on establishing a balance between the services provided to refugees in settlement Vis-a-vis those provided to adjacent host communities.  It is important that Host communities also enjoy the same education, heath, water and sanitations, as enjoyed by the refugees they host.
Environmental degradation is among the major problems created by large movements of refugees that today continues to adversely affect economies of host countries.  In Tanzania, forest reserves lying adjacent to refugee camps are at the verge of extinction because of excessive tree cutting by refugee populations.  The entire refugee population in Tanzania is dependent on firewood as a source of energy and for house construction.  Thousands of tons of trees are depleting yearly, to cater for these needs.  In a recently conducted joint study between environmental expert from my Government working in collaboration with a UNHCR environmental expert, it was revealed that some 639,000.0 hectors of trees are consumed yearly for cooking which amount to 431,150 tons, while building polls consume a staggering 2,711,587 tons of woods per year.  I will refrain to attach monetary values to these figures.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Hosting refugees in large scale numbers like what we have been experiencing here since 1950s comes with a huge responsibility and burden to the host government. The host communities tend to be on the receiving end on negative socio-economic and environmental impacts. In a number of cases, the presence of refugees tends to aggravate the existing challenges in the host countries. These challenges tend to put to test the enormous generosity of host communities.
 
The afore-mentioned challenges underscore the importance of the New York Declaration in promoting the spirit of international solidarity and responsibility sharing in protecting displaced persons. The New York Declaration commitments on sharing of responsibility and burden in protecting refugees are spelled out in the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF).
 
 
Tanzania is committed and it is on course to implement the CRRF, however we need to be cautious that CRRF depends on commitment of relevant actors to ensure that adequate resources are made available to carry out its activities. Moreover, CRRF should not be an alibi of escaping responsibilities and leaving the burden to the host government. In this regard, the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania calls upon relevant actors to commit themselves in ensuring availability of financial resources for effective implementation of the CRRF.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Tanzania will continue to pursue access to durable solutions, as the ultimate goal of international protection for refugees. In this, the government is working on the remaining caseload of the 1972 Burundi Refugees and in particular the cases related with the children of the 1972 Burundi refugees, residual refugees and appeals cases. It is however imperative to note that, as a matter of policy, from now on, the option for naturalization will no longer be available to refugees.
The government has credible information from various sources including from our embassy in Burundi and from H.E. Benjamin William Mkapa, the East African Community (EAC) facilitator of the Inter – Burundi Dialogue. Such information reveals that the situation in Burundi is stable to merit repatriation and reintegration of some refugees to their country. In fact, as we speak now, there are about 7,450 refugees who have registered their requests for voluntary repatriation to their homeland.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In this view, the government requests your collaboration and that of the government of Burundi, in making adequate arrangements for the safe return of refugees to their home country. We also need to work together in encouraging voluntary repatriation and reintegration of Burundian refugees. It is our hope and expectations that we will all refrain from actions and activities, which in effect entice refugees to remain in the host country for reasons other than protection.
Voluntary repatriation as a solution to the refugee problem may not be enough and hence we need to promote resettlement as a means of protection and durable solution. In the spirit of international burden and responsibility sharing, it is important that new avenues for resettlement to third country solutions are made available and pursued vigorously.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Refugees’ protection and solutions require all of us to work together to address the existing challenges. In this endeavour, we have no alternative but to join hands and work together in solidarity. I wish you all the best in the work ahead.
Thank you so much for your kind attention,
 

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