Tanzania suspends granting of citizenship to Burundian refugees

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-21 04:49:52|Editor: yan
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DAR ES SALAAM, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Thursday ordered relevant authorities in the east African nation to stop granting citizenship to Burundian refugees.

President Magufuli made the directive shortly after he had held talks with Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza in a border town of Ngara in Kagera region, said a statement from the Directorate of Presidential Communication at State House.

President Magufuli ordered the country's Minister for Home Affairs, Mwigulu Nchemba, to ensure that no more Burundian refugees were granted Tanzanian citizenship. He did not give reasons for his action.

In 2014, Tanzania announced that it was in the process of granting citizenship to 162,000 Burundian refugees who had fled their country in 1972.

The Burundian refugees lived in three settlements in Tabora and Katavi regions in western Tanzania. By 2007, they had become largely self-reliant and were taxpaying members of society. In addition to subsistence crops, the refugees produced tobacco and coffee for export, contributing to the development of these remote regions.

Nchemba had briefed the two leaders that 5,000 Burundian out of 247,000 straying in western Tanzanian camps had made applications to return to their tiny central African country saying the country was now peaceful.

"We have been encouraged to learn that some of the Burundian refugees have started going back home without the assistance from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees," said President Magufuli.

Speaking at the same occasion, President Nkurunziza called on the Burundian refugees living in Tanzania to go back home and rebuild the country.

"I wholeheartedly thank Tanzanians for their generosity to accommodate Burundian refugees," said Nkurunziza.

The Burundian leader called for more economic integration between the two countries saying Tanzanians were welcome to do business in Burundi.

In June this year, the UN refugee agency said Tanzania remained the largest host of Burundian refugees.

"Tanzania has become host to more than 241,000 refugees and asylum-seekers from Burundi since the outbreak of violence in 2015, making it the largest host of Burundian refugees in the region," said the UNHCR in a report to mark the World Refugee Day.

Two years after the outbreak of violence in Burundi, children account for more than 60 percent of Burundian new arrivals in Tanzania, said the report.

"Significant numbers of new arrivals continue to flee to the country, with 44,487 having arrived in the first five months of 2017," it said.

Tanzania is currently home to more than 315,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are hosted in three refugee camps of Nyarugusu, Nduta, and Mtendeli, which face severe pressure.