United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has asked Tanzania to set aside enough land to accommodate more than 78,000 refugees from Burundi who have settled in the country.
President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bitterly contested decision to run for a third term, has translated into a growing humanitarian crisis, with more than 100,000 men, women and children fleeing from a campaign of intimidation by armed Nkurunziza supporters.
Tanzania has in recent years experienced a large influx of refugees running away from their countries due to political turmoil
UNHCR’s Director Antonio Guterres issued a concern on Thursday when he welcomed President Jakaya Kikwete at the headquarter offices of the UNHCR in Geneva.
A statement issued yesterday by the Directorate of Presidential Communications said:
“Alongside with the request, UNHCR has praised Tanzania for being the only country in East and Central Africa which has become a safe place to accommodate refugees.”
The statement said the UNHCR director described Tanzania as only peaceful country with good relations with neighbours, and which is being guided by good humanitarian policies.
At UNHCR headquarters, President Kikwete received a warm welcome by workers of the UN organisation who came out of their office to welcome him with ululations that were accompanied by hand clapping.
Guterres told President Kikwete: “They were happy to see his entourage has come to visit his headquarter offices and thanked Tanzania for what it has done to the UNHCR since the reign of Socialism under ‘father of the nation’ Mwalimu Julius Nyerere up to now.
He said Tanzania is a role model for the dedication it has shown for being a prime guard for refugees in the world.
The two leaders spent time to discuss the ongoing political skirmishes ravaging Burundi country.
President Kikwete assured his host that people who run away from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for fear of their lives, maintaining however that there are no civil wars in those countries
“There is no threat on their safety that exacerbates the influx of refugees to Tanzania, but we keep on receiving them,” Kikwete said and added that Tanzania will receive them.
President Kikwete also told Guterres who was Prime Minister of Portugal for six and a half years that Tanzania would continue giving support to refugees.
However, he said Tanzania is not a rich country and that it needs necessary help to cater for refugees coming into the country.
On Guterres’ request for a portion of land, Kikwete noted that he would look into the matter before the end of term of the office in October.
The current influx of Burundian refugees is the fourth since Tanzania (Tanganyika) attained independence in 1961.
Since the beginning of June this year, approximately 250 new arrivals were recorded in Kigoma, western Tanzania, each day and this number has risen substantially.
UNHCR is among the 31 UN agents with headquarters in Geneva, which is also the host country of international organisations with permanent representatives of more than 250 country diplomats accredited from 173 countries in the world.
The permanent ambassador accredited in Geneva, Switzerland Bruno Favel said, in a speech in welcoming President Kikwete, said Geneva is the central business city on human and health related issues.