IOM finalizes pilot migrant registration in Western Tanzania

Date Published: 
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Burundian women married to Tanzanians that came to register in manyovu

The Tanzanian Immigration Department with support by the International Organization for Migration has registered more than 22,000 migrants in the first-of-its-kind ‘pilot’ migrant registration exercise, which it launched in Kigoma region on December 1st 2014. In less than three months, 12 registration sites were set up in four districts: Kigoma Urban, Kigoma Rural, Buhigwe and Uvinza. The success of the exercise is testament to the excellent partnership between IOM and the Tanzanian Government, with the Tanzanian Immigration Department in charge of carrying out verification interviews and operating the biometric registration and card printing system. The registration equipment will be donated to the Immigration Department in March.

Vestuso D. was one of the thousands of migrants who came forward to register his wife and five children. Although born in Tanzania to Burundian parents, he never received formal resident status. Describing life in Tanzania as “peaceful”, he said he hoped to secure a good future for his family in the country, which he calls his home. The personalized cards he now holds for each household member protects them from expulsion for up to four years, while Immigration assesses their request for residence permits.

The pilot migrant registration campaign constitutes the final pilot phase of IOM’s ‘Humanitarian Support to Migrants in Western Tanzania’ programme, which was launched as a result of the Government of Tanzania’s 2013 “hurricane operation” Kimbunga, during which over 65,000 irregular migrants were expelled from Tanzanian territory. Through funding from the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID), the Government of Japan and the European Union, and within the structures of the United Nations Development Assistance Plan, IOM was able to build the capacity of the government to develop and implement protection-sensitive migration management approaches, bringing the expulsions to a halt and encouraging migrants to come forward and register. The success of this capacity development initiative has resulted in its inclusion as a main pillar of the Tanzanian Ministry of Home Affairs recently adopted “Comprehensive Migration Management Strategy (COMMIST)”, and will form the basis for the government requested second phase, which foresees roll out throughout Tanzania.  

The e-registration of irregular migrant is a pioneering initiative in Africa, the results of which will also be useful lessons learned for other UN supported identity management initiatives, especially in western Tanzania where adequately documenting and differentiating migrants and refuges is paramount. The Tanzanian government and IOM now wish to upscale and expand the regularization process to other regions in Tanzania, providing irregular migrants in Tanzania, whose numbers are currently estimated at over 200,000, with a more secure future.