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Socio-economic assessment in the refugee camps and hosting districts of Kigoma region

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This report documents the socio-economic situation (livelihoods) of the refugees and host communities living in and around the camps of Nyarugusu, Nduta, and Mtendeli in the region of Kigoma. In line with a growing body of research on the economic lives of refugees (including in Western Tanzania), it describes the many attempts of the refugees to develop economic activities. It finds that, despite a challenging legal environment, their contribution to the economy of the region is positive.

The refugees hosted are mostly Burundians who left their country from 2015. A majority seems to be “repeat” refugees who have already lived in Tanzania as refugees in the 1990s. Some were even displaced to Tanzania during the 1972 Hutu genocide in Burundi. Nyarugusu camp also hosts a strong Congolese contingent (84,418 refugees and asylum seekers as per UNHCR Tanzania Refugee Situation Statistical Report 28.02.2018). The camps are located in the poorest region of Tanzania, in three districts that struggle to attract investment in industry or other job-producing sectors and where international aid is a welcomed source of cash.

The Kigoma region has a long history of hosting refugees from Burundi and Congo.
Burundians have been displaced from turmoil in three waves: the 1972 Hutu genocide, the civil war through the mid-1990s and 2000s, and the most recent political crisis in 2015. At the time of writing this report, there were 232,221 Burundian refugees in Tanzania residing in Nyarugusu, Nduta, and Mtendeli (ibid). The government stopped prima facie refugee designation for Burundians in January 2017, and the number of new arrivals has dropped significantly in the past two years (as opposed to 2015). In August 2017, a tripartite agreement was signed between Burundi, Tanzania, and UNHCR and nearly 17,000 Burundian refugees have repatriated to date. The Congolese refugees have been in Tanzania since the 1990s (and in Nyarugusu camp since 1996).

Due to continued violence in Eastern Congo, very few of the Congolese refugees have repatriated. In fact, since April 2015, over 20,000 new Congolese refugees have arrived in Nyarugusu.

The field research was conducted between 4 and 20 February 2018 and included 30 focus group discussions and 110 interviews with refugees in different situations (with/without support, with/without business) as well as host community members and key informants (local authorities, aid organisations).