Brussels, 13 February 2003 - The European Commission has approved a €24 million package to help meet the humanitarian needs of mainly Burundian and Congolese refugees in Tanzania for 2003. These funds will be channelled through partner organisations working in the field by the Humanitarian Aid Office, ECHO, which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Poul Nielson. "ECHO is the largest single donor to the refugee operation in Tanzania, a longstanding crisis that has largely been forgotten by the international community", said Mr Nielson. "Given continued political and military instability in Burundi and other neighbouring countries, there is little chance of large-scale repatriation for the refugees. ECHO is therefore committed to continuing its support for the refugee population in 2003."
Despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, Tanzania continues to host over half a million refugees - the largest refugee caseload in Africa. The majority of these refugees are from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. As long as the political situation in these countries remains unstable, it is unlikely that many of these refugees will be repatriated in the foreseeable future.
ECHO's Global Plan for 2003 will benefit about 520,000 refugees in fourteen camps in western Tanzania under UNHCR protection. The funds will go to finance food aid, logistics, water and sanitation, as well as nutrition, health, shelter and protection. Health support will be maintained in the camps, with a focus on preventing the main causes of child mortality malaria, pneumonia and neonatal problems. An essential part of the refugee programme is the provision of shelter and protection. This includes camp infrastructure, refugee shelter, plot allocation and the distribution of non-food items. Support for child education will also be maintained, as well as protection of vulnerable groups through gender and child-related projects.