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Tanzanian Prisons Congested With Refugee Inmates

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DAR ES SALAAM (Jan. 23) XINHUA - Prisons in Tanzania's western Kigoma Region are congested with many refugee inmates from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
These refugee inmates are either serving sentences or remanded, according to a Sunday News report.

The report issued recently by the Kigoma Regional Commissioner Abubakar Mgumia said that the prisons in the region have been overwhelmed by offenders, mostly refugees who are charged with crimes like rape, armed robbery and murder.

Bangwe prison in Kigoma town which was meant for 64 inmates has now been forced to accommodate 419 lawbreakers, it said.

The report said 178 refugees from Burundi and 37 from the DRC are serving sentences for various offences, particularly armed robbery.

There are 190 Burundian, 50 Congolese and six Rwandan refugees who are remanded in the region prisons.

The report shows from 1994 to 1999, there have been 465 criminal incidents in the region involving refugees.

The region has seen the increase of weapons brought in unlawfully by the refugees between January 1994 and December 1999 when 60 firearms, 4, 084 bullets and two hand grenades were confiscated by police.

It was reported that thousands of refugees from Burundi, some of whom are armed, unleashed violent attacks on local Tanzanians in Kigoma Region last year. Scores of villagers were reported to be killed or hurt in conflicts with refugees.

Tanzania is home to over 800,000 refugees from Burundi, the DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda and Uganda. However, more than 450, 000 refugees nation-wide are not residing in camps or settlements.

Copyright (c) 2000 Comtex Scientific Corporation
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 01/23/2000 07:34:30