Tanzania:Refugee influx overwhelms local camps

Published by Daily News
On 18 November 2016 saa 12:24
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Refugee camps in the country are reportedly filled to capacity, the government said yesterday, noting that it was now contemplating the next move.

Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Hamad Yusuf Masauni, told the ‘Daily News’ in a telephone interview that the government will soon issue a detailed statement on the situation at the country’s refugees’ camps.

Media reports have it that a critical situation is unfolding as hundreds of thousands of refugees arrive amid overwhelmed camps.

Fleeing the Burundi crisis, the rate of refugee arrivals has increased almost five-fold in the last four months. Nearly 250,000 Burundian and Congolese refugees are now crammed into three overstretched camps, while discussions on a fourth camp to host those still crossing the border continue.

Contacted yesterday, Mr Masauni said it was too early to issue any official communication on the situation of refugees in the country, promising to give details in the next few days.

According to the Relief- Web, an online source for reliable and timely humanitarian information on global crises and disasters, over recent months, food distribution has been threatened with cuts due to lack of funds.

In October, the World Food Programme (WFP) officially announced reduction in food rations to 60 per cent of the daily recommended nutritional intake, a step only forestalled by a last minute donation. As the numbers of refugees increase, the risk of further cuts in the near future is a pressing concern.

“With total refugee numbers in the three camps estimated at over 280,000 by the end of 2016, this is rapidly becoming one of Africa’s biggest refugee crises,” The ReliefWeb quoted the Head of Mission for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Mr David Nash as saying.

However, despite warnings made by MSF last May, little has been done to scale up assistance. Nduta camp, which receives the newly arriving refugees, is now full.

Up to 10,000 refugees from Burundi arrive in the country monthly and 850 others from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) arrived in October. MSF is again calling for an increase in the international aid efforts.

“The Tanzanian government, which has kept open its borders to respond to this crisis - should not have to shoulder the responsibility alone. A rapid scale-up of assistance is required,’’ said Mr Nash.