TANZANIA has asked the international community to fully cover the costs incurred by the government and local authorities in connection with refugee-related work in the country.
Speaking at the launch of the Comprehensive Refugees Response Framework (CRRF) in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Hamad Masauni asked the international community to provide adequate support to the Tanzania government to meet the needs of the refugees.
Masauni however fell short of disclosing the amount the international community owed the government in refugee upkeep and other related expenses.
However, he disclosed that the costs were for “the provision of security to refugees and maintaining law and order in refugee hosting areas”.
The minister said under the CRRF, a programme that seeks to implement radical shift in refugee protection towards a more systematic and sustainable response, the country needed to have adequate and direct support.
According to him, the international community needed to play its part of the bargain and fully support the final local integration of the former 1972 Burundian refugees who have been granted citizenship.
“They should also provide directly to the government adequate support to meet the needs of refugees in the country,“ he stressed.
He said as government, they would like to see the New York Declaration and CRRF translate into humanitarian and development financing that was adequate, flexible, predictable and consistent.
He said such a move would enable host countries to respond to both humanitarian and development needs.
“Unfortunately, this call comes at a time when the country’s refugee program is only 4 per cent funded,” he said.
He said it was the government’s expectation that the launched CRRF would transform all areas hosting refugees into robust areas of economic prosperity for the community and to the refugees.
The launched CRRF is an outcome of New York declarations reached last year by the community of nations in the General Assembly.
Under the declaration, the country pledges to implement five commitments, continues to receive refugees, undertakes a review of the 2003 national refugee policy and Refugees Act of 1998, provides durable solution to the remaining 1972 Burundian refugees who were not naturalized.
Others include improving the quality of refugees in the country and supporting the adoption of the global compact on responsibility sharing.
The minister assured that the government was committed and stood ready to co-operate with all stakeholders to ensure the full implementation and realization of the CRRF programme.
Since the endorsement of the declaration last year the country has given access to its territory to over 75,000 asylum seekers, bringing the total number of refugees to 335,000 to date.
In his remarks, Director of Refugee Services in the country Harrison Mseke said the roll out of the CRRF would be led by the government but facilitated by the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and a wide range of humanitarian and development actors.
The director said that the government had now established a national CRRF secretariat which would be government led, but had brought on board relevant actors from UNHCR, World Food Programme (WFP) and other UN agencies, academia, the private sector, development actors and civil societies.
For her part, UNHCR Representative to Tanzania Chansa Kapaya said the UNHCR stood ready to support the country and CRRF secretariat in its efforts to enhance support for refugees and host communities.
According to the UNHCR, there was an urgent need for understanding that the dramatic growth in the suffering of people who have fallen victim to war and persecutions required an equally dramatic growth in financial support and innovation.
It said by adopting a whole of society approach, it was excited to welcome new allies to join hands in a comprehensive and sustainable response to refugees.
Speaking on behalf of the development partners, Danish Ambassador to Tanzania Einar Jensen said that it was important to see refugees as a resourceful people because they had skills and were capable of being productive.
“Refugees should not be a burden in the community,” the ambassador said.
Kigoma Regional Commissioner Emmanuel Maganga told the Guardian that there were some challenges in hosting refuges including environmental destruction and insecurity, as some came with weapons while others were the costs of accommodating them on their immediate arrival.