The United Republic of Tanzania was host to 84,347 refugees and asylum-seekers from the DRC, as of 31 December 2018, representing the 25.8 per cent of the total refugee population in the country. The majority of refugees, some 84,246, continued to reside in the refugee camp of Nyarugusu and the remaining population in urban areas.
In January 2018, there was an influx of some 1,700 asylum seekers from the DRC arriving in Tanzania via small fishing boats along lake Tanganyinka. These new arrivals received immediate humanitarian assistance, before being relocated to Nyarugusu camp. However, since then, the protection space in Tanzania has reduced considerably, following the de facto closure of 19 border entry and reception points by year end and hundreds of forced returns.
A high first instance rejection rate for refugee claims averaging between 80 and 100 per cent by the Government’s National Eligibility Committee (NEC) was also recorded. Currently, all asylum-seekers arriving in Tanzania must undergo individual refugee status determination (RSD) procedures which requires asylum seekers to be assessed by the NEC.
Despite the unpredictable protection environment, as well as the limited capacity and resources to stabilise and strengthen existing programmes, response partners in Tanzania continued to provide critical protection and humanitarian assistance to Congolese refugees and asylum seekers.
A total of 480 transitional shelters were upgraded in Nyarugusu camp and the construction of a primary school was completed with 12 semi-permanent classrooms.
Partners facilitated access for refugees to primary healthcare and reproductive health, HIV prevention and treatment. Refugees were also provided with opportunities to attend awareness campaigns on family planning methods and their benefits. In an effort to strengthen SGBV mainstreaming and better address the related risks facing refugee communities in the camps, a national action plan with priority action points was developed.
However a number of gaps remained. The refugee response remained underfunded with only 30 per cent of the requested funding for the Congolese situation received by year end. Available resources remained stretched and the inadequate funding has resulted in major gaps in the Congolese response, the majority of whom are protracted refugees who arrived in Tanzania over twenty years ago.
The impact was felt in all sectors, including limited services for unaccompanied children and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), reduced food rations ranging between 72 and 82 per cent from February to September 2018, dilapidated family shelters, overstretched health centres, and overcrowded classrooms.
These gaps were compounded further by the strict implementation of the encampment policy and new restrictions throughout 2018 on project interventions for enhanced livelihood opportunities, leaving refugees more dependent on humanitarian assistance.