Home > Where We Work > Africa > Central Africa and the Great Lakes > United Republic of Tanzania

United Republic of Tanzania flag

United Republic of Tanzania United Republic of Tanzania RSS Feed

2014 UNHCR country operations profile - United Republic of Tanzania

| Overview |

Working environment

  • The United Republic of Tanzania (Tanzania) has a decades-long history as a generous country of asylum. The country is a strong partner of UNHCR in joint efforts to find durable solutions to the situation of refugees who have successively found asylum within its territory. In addition to providing a hospitable environment over the years for many refugees, the Government took an unprecedented decision in 2010 to naturalize more than 162,000 Burundian refugees who had lived in three settlements in the west of the country for more than 40 years.

  • The institution of asylum in Tanzania has been a heavy burden on government resources, particularly in relation to political instability in the Great Lakes Region. In recent years for instance, access to fair and efficient asylum procedures has been a challenge for asylum-seekers. The National Eligibility Committee (NEC) had not convened for four years until March 2013, when sessions were finally resumed. Such challenges continue to be addressed by the Government, with the support of UNHCR.

  • The 162,000 Burundians who went through the naturalization process in 2010, also referred to as newly naturalized Tanzanians (NNTs), were due to be relocated to other regions of the country prior to receiving citizenship documentation. However, in August 2011 their relocation was suspended pending further consultations within the Government on the formalization of their status. The future of the NNTs remains linked to the finalization of this consultative process.

  • In late 2012, almost 35,000 Burundian former refugees were assisted to return home from Mtabila camp in a dignified and safe manner. Since then, the Tanzanian Government has demonstrated flexibility in agreeing to accommodate new arrivals in the country, particularly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and to reassume its eligibility assessment responsibilities.

  • The situation in Nyarugusu camp, where over 68,000 refugees reside, continues to deteriorate as a result of limited funding. Refugee movements are restricted by the encampment policy in Tanzania, thus limiting self-reliance options and increasing dependence on humanitarian assistance.

  • In 2014, the Government of Tanzania will continue to provide land for over 105,000 refugees in Nyarugusu camp and the "Old Settlements" of Mishamo, Katumba and Ulyankulu, where the NNTs reside.

People of concern

The main groups of people of concern planned for in 2014 under the Tanzania operation are: Congolese refugees, the majority of whom fled the conflict in eastern DRC in 1996; Burundian refugees who fled in the 1990s and were found to be in continued need of international protection following the Mtabila camp closure exercise; Burundians who arrived in 1972 and went through the naturalization process in 2010, now awaiting a final decision from the Government of Tanzania regarding their local integration; 1972 Burundian refugees who were not part of the naturalization process; and Burundians settled in villages in the Kigoma area for whom durable solutions have yet to be identified.

Planning figures

UNHCR 2014 planning figures for United Republic of Tanzania
TYPE OF POPULATION ORIGIN Dec 2013 Dec 2014 Dec 2015
Total in country of whom assisted
Total in country of whom assisted
Total in country of whom assisted
Total 298,020 298,020 310,250 310,250 105,820 105,820
Refugees Burundi 34,930 34,930 34,070 34,070 32,980 32,980
Dem. Rep. of the Congo 66,060 66,060 71,260 71,260 69,410 69,410
Somalia 420 420 20 20 - -
Various 250 250 250 250 200 200
Asylum-seekers Burundi 10 10 10 10 10 10
Dem. Rep. of the Congo 190 190 200 200 200 200
Various 10 10 20 20 20 20
Stateless Stateless 2,000 2,000 2,500 2,500 3,000 3,000
Others of concern Burundi 194,150 194,150 201,920 201,920 - -

| Response |

Needs and strategies

Owing to limited funding in recent years, the education and health infrastructure in Nyarugusu camp is in poor condition and in need of renewal. Only 70 per cent of refugees in the camp have adequate shelter and family latrines. There is also a need for the renewal of non-food items (NFI), with the last distribution having taken place in 2007.

The use of firewood is unsustainable given the depletion of wood stocks and refugees having to travel increasingly long distances to cater for their energy needs. The levels of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) have remained consistently high over the past two years.

The delay in providing a decision on the future of the NNTs has had far-reaching consequences for them, including on their social and economic welfare, and limited access to basic services. UNHCR will therefore continue to work with the Government and host communities on projects that enhance their access to basic services such as health, education, sanitation, as well as livelihood activities.

At the ministerial-level intergovernmental event marking the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Statelessness Convention organized by UNHCR in Geneva in December 2011, the Government of Tanzania pledged to review the 1998 National Refugees Policy; to revise or repeal and replace the 2003 Refugee Act; to ratify the 2009 Kampala Convention; and to continue to register and provide documentation for refugees and asylum-seekers. UNHCR will follow up on, and support the implementation of these pledges.

| Implementation |


In Tanzania, efforts to achieve UNHCR's principal objectives of providing international protection and assistance, while pursuing durable solutions for all people of concern, including the strengthening of asylum and migration systems, have been supported through the Delivering as One initiative and through UNHCR's participation in the United Nations Development Assistance Plan (UNDAP) 2011-2015. Within the UNDAP, UNHCR Tanzania leads the Refugee Programme Working Group, which includes FAO, IOM, UNFPA, UNICEF and WFP.

UNHCR also works closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs through its Refugee Services Department, the Prisons Services Department, the Immigration Department, the Border Management and Control Department and the Citizenship Department, as well as with the Zanzibar authorities in charge of illegal migratory flows management, repatriation, law renewal and capacity building.

2014 UNHCR partners in United Republic of Tanzania
Implementing partners
Government agencies: Ministry of Home Affairs, Zanzibar's Legal and Human Rights Centre
NGOs: African Initiatives for Relief and Development, Community Environmental Management and Development Organization, Centre for Studies of Forced Migration, International Rescue Committee, Jesuit Refugee Service, National Organization for Legal Assistance, Relief to Development Society, Tanzania Red Cross, Tanzania Water and Environmental Sanitation Agency
Others: Law College, University of Dar es Salaam
Operational partners
Government agencies: The Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
NGOs: Asylum Access, Refugee Point, Spanish Red Cross, Tanganyika Christian Refugee Services

| Financial information |

In recent years, the financial requirements for UNHCR's operation in Tanzania have reflected developments in the region with provisions made for a possible influx of refugees from the DRC and progress anticipated with the local integration of Burundian refugees. The budget peaked in 2011 at USD 91.6 million when UNHCR was ready to fully support the relocation of the newly naturalized Burundian refugees, a project that has not yet been realized. The 2014 financial requirements for the Tanzania operation are set at USD 38.8 million.

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2014-2105



Statistical Snapshot*
* As at January 2014
  1. Country or territory of asylum or residence. In the absence of Government estimates, UNHCR has estimated the refugee population in most industrialized countries based on 10 years of asylum-seekers recognition.
  2. Persons recognized as refugees under the 1951 UN Convention/1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU Convention, in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted a complementary form of protection and those granted temporary protection. It also includes persons in a refugee-like situation whose status has not yet been verified.
  3. Persons whose application for asylum or refugee status is pending at any stage in the procedure.
  4. Refugees who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2013. Source: Country of origin and asylum.
  5. Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and/or assistance. It also includes persons who are in an IDP-like situation.
  6. IDPs protected/assisted by UNHCR who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2013.
  7. Refers to persons under UNHCR's statelessness mandate.
  8. Persons of concern to UNHCR not included in the previous columns but to whom UNHCR extends protection and/or assistance.
  9. The category of people in a refugee-like situation is descriptive in nature and includes groups of people who are outside their country of origin and who face protection risks similar to those of refugees, but for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained.
The data are generally provided by Governments, based on their own definitions and methods of data collection.
A dash (-) indicates that the value is zero, not available or not applicable.

Source: UNHCR/Governments.
Compiled by: UNHCR, FICSS.
Residing in United Republic of Tanzania [1]
Refugees [2] 102,099
Asylum Seekers [3] 407
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Stateless Persons [7] 0
Various [8] 162,256
Total Population of Concern 264,762
Originating from United Republic of Tanzania [1]
Refugees [2] 1,040
Asylum Seekers [3] 1,011
Returned Refugees [4] 0
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Various [8] 0
Total Population of Concern 2,051

United Republic of Tanzania UNHCR Maps Rss FeedUNHCR Maps

more documents

Tanzanian refugees return to Zanzibar

The UN refugee agency has successfully completed the voluntary repatriation of 38 Tanzanian refugees from Zanzibar who had been residing in the Somalia capital, Mogadishu, for more than a decade. The group, comprising 12 families, was flown on two special UNHCR-chartered flights from Mogadishu to Zanzibar on July 6, 2012. From there, seven families were accompanied back to their home villages on Pemba Island, while five families opted to remain and restart their lives on the main Zanzibar island of Unguja. The heads of households were young men when they left Zanzibar in January 2001, fleeing riots and violence following the October 2000 elections there. They were among 2,000 refugees who fled from the Tanzanian island of Pemba. The remainder of the Tanzanian refugee community in Mogadishu, about 70 people, will wait and see how the situation unfolds for those who went back before making a final decision on their return.

Tanzanian refugees return to Zanzibar

A fresh start; Burundian former refugees begin a new chapter in their lives

Since the end of October more than 26,000 Burundian former refugees have been assisted by UNHCR and its partners to return home from the Mtabila camp in northwest Tanzania. The operation is organized with the Government of Tanzania to help some 35,500 Burundian former refugees go back to Burundi by the end of 2012, when the Mtabila camp officially closes.

Refugee status for most Burundians in Tanzania formally ended in August following individual interviews to assess remaining protection needs. A total of 2,715 people will continue to be hosted as refugees in Tanzania, while the rest, the last of a population of refugees who left Burundi some 20 years ago, must return home. This is not an easy move after having spent most of your life -- and sometimes all of it -- in exile.

While awaiting their turn to join one of the daily convoys to bring them home, Burundian former refugees are preparing themselves for a fresh start…

A fresh start; Burundian former refugees begin a new chapter in their lives

Somalia: Zanzibar ReturnPlay video

Somalia: Zanzibar Return

It took more than a decade, but finally a group of families return to Zanzibar in Tanzania after living in exile in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Tanzania: Road to CitizenshipPlay video

Tanzania: Road to Citizenship

In 2007, UNHCR and the government of Tanzania gave him a choice: return home or become Tanzanian. It was an easy decision for Michael Sheltieri Namoya.
Tanzania: Bantu HomecomingPlay video

Tanzania: Bantu Homecoming

For more than four centuries, thousands of ethnic Bantus have lived in Somalia. Now they are making their way to Tanzania, land of their ancestors.
Tanzania: A new futurePlay video

Tanzania: A new future

In a historic decision, Tanzania has granted citizenship to 162,000 Burundian refugees who fled their country in 1972. UNHCR hailed the move and urged other countries to follow suit.
Tanzania: A New StartPlay video

Tanzania: A New Start

The story of Mawazo Pardon, a refugee from Burundi. Pardon has a new lease on life.