For several decades Tanzania has been an important country of asylum, welcoming refugees from Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Zaire/Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and South Africa. For several years, despite chronic poverty, Tanzania has hosted the largest refugee population on the African continent. It has been a stable country in the midst of the Great Lakes Region (GLR), where numerous conflicts have generated thousands of refugees.
As of October 2003, the registered refugee population in Tanzania is over 476,000. The total has been close to half a million for the last three years. These refugees live in 13 camps in the North Western regions of Kigoma and Kagera. They are almost entirely dependent on international humanitarian aid, because Tanzanian law precludes self-reliance and integration. Burundians represent 68% of the total (326,000 people) and Congolese 31% (149,000 people). The remainder consists of mixed ethnic groups, Rwandans and special protection cases. There are other refugees in Tanzania, including approximately 3,000 Somalis, who are exceptionally being integrated into the North Eastern Tanga region. According to the government, half a million refugees are living outside the camps, including 170,000 Burundians settled officially in Rukwa region in 1972 and 300,000 settled illegally in Tanzanian border villages. The ECHO Global Plan concerns the 476,000 refugees accommodated in camps under UNHCR protection.
Despite adopting a sterner attitude towards refugees, Tanzania will probably continue to host a significant number in 2004, as the situations in Burundi and DRC are still unstable. In Burundi the change of president in May 2003 and the agreement between the rebel group Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie (FDD) and the transitional government in October 2003 were greeted with caution by the refugees. Before returning, most await a real cease-fire and reform of the army. The situation in DRC improved with the signing of the Acte Global et Inclusif in December 2002 and the installation of a national transitional government in July 2003. However, over 90% of the Congolese refugees are from South Kivu region, where the presence of uncontrolled armed forces remains a problem. In both Burundi and DRC prospects for repatriation are increasing, but it is unlikely that large-scale returns will occur in the near future. Between March 2002 and October 2003, only 57,000 Burundians were repatriated by UNHCR. As for the Congolese, UNHCR has begun to assess the possibility of a repatriation process from 2004 onwards.
The Commission aims to continue providing humanitarian aid through ECHO to refugees in Tanzania in 2004. The overall objective is to support the multi-sectoral care and maintenance operation in 13 refugee camps, meeting basic standards of humanitarian assistance. This Global Plan proposes an amount of €15,000,000 for 2004 in support of logistics, water, sanitation, health, nutrition, shelter, protection and other services for 450,000 refugees. An allocation is included for technical assistance. Potential partners are UNHCR, UNICEF and Spanish Red Cross (SRC).