Tag Archives: Refugees

Tanzanian refugees go forth

Tanzania has granted full citizenship to 162,000 Burundian refugees. It’s a good move, and another positive step in Tanzania’s generally progressive approach to its refugee problems – at one stage, it hosted the largest refugee population in Africa with over 600,000, mostly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The ones who have just been granted citizenship are mostly Hutus from Burundi who fled the massacres perpetrated by the Tutsi-led Burundian government in 1972, and are now fully integrated into the country. In 2008 these refugees were given the choice to be repatriated or to take Tanzanian citizenship; nearly half a million went back to Burundi, and the rest have now been given full citizenship. Tanzania’s experience with refugees has been remarkably good considering the scale of the problem; this is primarily thanks to policies put in place early on which ensured refugees received some legal protection and which integrated them into the community (including the provision of land, which allowed them to be largely self-sufficient and not a drain on the government’s resources). Other African countries with similar refugee problems should take note (I’m thinking particularly of South Africa and the influx of Zimbabweans). Refugees are not a temporary problem and they never all go away; to plan on this basis is fantasy. The sooner they are incorporated into the country the better for all concerned.

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