Government: No Terrorists Among Somali Refugees


The government has refuted the claims that there are some Al-Shabaab terrorists among the 1,300 Somali refugees who have been granted full Tanzanian citizenship.

The Somalis entered the country as refugees and were accommodated at Chogo settlement in Tanga Region. They are still in the process of being naturalised.

Speaking in an interview after the commemoration of World Refugees Day in Dar es Salaam on Thursday evening, Home Affairs deputy minister Pereira Silima said no Al-Shabaab terrorist was among the refugees who relocated after living in Somalia for centuries.

He said the National Eligibility Committee screened all the refugees to detect their status.

“Bantu Somali refugees have come back home after they stayed in Somali for a long time… we want to assure Tanzanians that there is no Al-Shabaab terrorist who came with the group of Bantu Somalis.

Our National Eligibility Committee has done its work to make sure that we have no terrorists among the returned Tanzanians,” he said
In his speech to mark the refugee day, the deputy minister said: “Tanzania has registered impressive strides in finding durable solution to the refugee problem after successful closure of Mtabila camp in Kigoma region where more than 35,000 Burundian refugees went back to their country of origin and were re-integrated in their former communitie.”

He added: “Tanzania remains committed and all set to collaborate with the international community in finding a lasting solution to the refugee problem. Indeed our policy seen with the context of regional and sub regional perspectives, seeks to address refugee problem as a collective responsibility.”

He underscored that as the country strives to find durable solutions for the Congolese refugees, the international community should work out ways and means of addressing the security concerns in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo by supporting the international peacekeepers who are trying to disarm the warlords and other criminal elements terrorising the general populace in the country.

For her part, UNHCR Representative Joyce Mends-Cole said despite growing pressure on the international protection system, Tanzania has gone beyond its duty in the active pursuit of durable solutions for refugees and continue to be acclaimed.

“Through the Tanzanian governments’ proactive approach and with UNHCR’s support, the number of refugees hosted in the country has decreased very significantly over the years, from nearly 700,000 in the 1990’s to just about 102,000 today,” she said
She stressed: “While half a million have returned home and some 16,000 have been resettled in third countries, a significant number have been generously offered a home in Tanzania through naturalization.

Somali Bantu refugees who settled since the 1990’s in the land of their ancestors – the Zigua tribe in Tanga Region, have already been naturalized,” she said, adding that there is expectation that an additional of 1500 of Bantu-Somali will become Tanzanians by the end of this year.

“Another recent accomplishment is the return in an orderly, dignified and safe manner of 34,052 Burundian refugees from Mtabila camp, allowing for its closure,” she said.

She also said that the main challenge facing UNHCR in Tanzania is the Nyarugusu camp which still hosts around 68,000 refugees, mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Our recent Global Trends report shows that Nyarugusu camp is the fifth largest refugee camp in the world in 2012. Many of the adults did not come recently from DRC but belong to one of the 30 situations worldwide which UNHCR considers to be protracted as they have been in exile in Tanzania for an average of 20 years and this protracted situation is regrettably combined with low prospects for return,” she said.