Tanzania has sounded the alarm over insufficient resources to manage the swelling numbers of refugees arriving from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The call for assistance resonates from Dodoma, where the authorities are urging global developmental allies to bolster support for the refugees accommodated in camps across the region.
This plea comes on the heels of the World Food Programme’s announcement, which cautioned about cutting food rations for refugees stationed in Tanzania. The cutback, unfortunately, is a result of a critical financial shortfall.
Mr. Sudi Mwakibasi, who serves as the Director of the Refugee Services Department under the Ministry of Home Affairs, stressed the country’s immediate need for financial backing. The urgency is especially pronounced for the refugees who have sought shelter in the Nyarugusu camps, situated in the Kigoma region. He noted that while this year witnessed an influx of approximately 11,000 refugees from the DRC, vital support from developmental partners remains conspicuously absent.
Complicating matters further is the slowed pace at which refugees volunteer to return to their native nations like Burundi and DRC, a slowdown majorly attributed to funding deficiencies. However, those who opt for voluntary repatriation are facilitated with transportation and a resettlement grant.
Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has estimated its budgetary need for Tanzanian operations to be a staggering $700 million. Recent data from the UNHCR underscores Tanzania’s recurrent role as a haven for refugees fleeing disturbances from neighboring territories.
This wave of displacement from the DRC is largely the outcome of upheavals triggered by rebels in the nation’s eastern territories. From September 2022 through January 2023, a significant number of Congolese nationals sought asylum in Tanzania, making perilous journeys across Lake Tanganyika in canoes and entering via the Kigoma region, as per Tanzanian administrative records.
The majority have found sanctuary in the Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, strategically located near the DRC border. Nonetheless, there have also been unquantified reports of refugees covertly crossing into Tanzania through less guarded frontier zones.
Compounding the regional tension, the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the DRC are slated for an “accelerated withdrawal.” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in a document presented to the UN Security Council, announced the imminent departure of the Stabilisation Mission from the DRC. This decision closes a contentious chapter but could potentially exacerbate the prevailing violence in the nation.