THE government in collaboration with the UN refugee agency and human rights organisations is reviewing two laws regulating refugees with a view to allowing them access to employment in the country.
The laws being revisited are the Refugees Act of 1998 and the Non Citizens (Employment Regulations) Act of 2015, according to the assistant director of refugee services in the Ministry of Home Affairs (security and operations), Suleiman Mziray.
Mziray told The Guardian in an interview during the ‘Upcoming Refugee Protection Café’ event in Dar es Salaam on Monday that the review is part of the government’s commitments under the Comprehensive Refugees Response Framework (CRRF).
He said the changes are being fast-tracked to catch up with other African countries where refugees have access to employment, such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia and South Africa.
Once the two laws have been reviewed and suitably amended, it will become easier for refugees residing in the country to boost their livelihoods by accessing employment opportunities legally, he added.
According to Mziray, the pending changes seek to repeal Article 9 Section 1 of the Non Citizens Act of 2015 which states that “a non-citizen shall not engage in any occupation for reward, profit or non-profit unless he or she has a valid work permit that allows them to engage in the occupation.”
He described CRRF as an extremely important global engagement which has self-dependency for refugees as part of its five commitments.
Explaining further, Mziray said CRRF’s inception was a result of a UN Leaders Summit declaration seeking to ensure that member states through their civil societies safeguard the rights of refugees and migrants and share responsibility for them on a global scale.
CRRF objectives are to ease pressure on refugees, increase their self-reliance capacity, and support the normalization of social conditions in their countries of origin to make a safe environment for them to return home.
Commenting on the status of Tanzania, he said the government has so far shown exemplary compliance with five CRRF objectives.
“Refugees and migrants are not seen as a burden, they offer great potential that only needs to be unlocked. We therefore put the human rights of refugees and migrants at the heart of our commitments,” Mziray said.
A programme assistant with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Gracia Antony, advised that as the laws review goes on, it would help to borrow a leaf from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which made changes that allow refugees from member countries to work within the region.
According to the UN declaration on the rights of refugees, host countries are called upon to increase opportunities for refugee adults to work and for children to go to school.
Furthermore, the declaration commits governments to better address the drivers and triggers causing the record numbers of forcibly displaced in today’s world.