The United Republic of Tanzania is a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention and in the past 40 years, it has hosted one of the largest refugee populations in Africa.

As of 28 October 2015, a total of 174,283 refugees in the region are hosted in two camps in the Kigoma region in north western Tanzania: Nyarugusu Refugee Camp and Nduta Refugee Camp. The largest population in the camps are the newly arrived refugees from Burundi, as a result of the influx which started in May 2015 and is still ongoing.

The refugee resettlement program is targeting the protracted caseload of Congolese refugees who have been residing in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp for more than 20 years. With the P-2 announcement in June, approximately 30,000 individuals will be referred to the USRAP over the next five to seven years. The increase in the number of resettled refugees is already visible in the fact that 1660 individuals departed from Tanzania in FY15 under the USRAP compared to 222 individuals in FY14.

Health Assessment

IOM Tanzania conducts medical screening of refugees accepted for resettlement. X-ray, laboratory and other screenings are carried out by IOM’s MHD doctors in NMC Transit Center in Kigoma (National Milling Center) which is run by UNHCR and their implementing partner, IRC. Refugees are provided with treatment and counseling before they are cleared to travel.

For refugees who are scheduled for final departure to the USA, they are brought to Kigoma and stay for 6 nights at Nzimano Transit Center where the MHD team can observe them for 24 hours and conduct pre departure medical screenings prior to their departure to the US.

Movement Management and Operations

IOM Tanzania provides logistical arrangements and travel assistance for refugees who are scheduled to depart to their country of resettlement. This includes obtaining exit permits from the camp, exit permits from the country, providing bus transportation from the camp to the transit center and onward to Kigoma airport. Currently, refugees depart from Kigoma airport by charter planes to Nairobi and onwar to the US; occasionally movements transit via Dar es Salaam. As of the next calendar year, IOM Tanzania will assume all aspects of movement management from IOM Nairobi.

Cultural Orientation

IOM Tanzania provides assistance in organizing cultural orientation sessions for refugees accepted for resettlement on request from IOM Nairobi (Canadian Cultural Orientation Abroad) and RSC Africa (United States Cultural Orientation). IOM supports the implementing agencies in all logistical and administrative arrangements. The CO sessions are held in the NMC Transit Center or the Home Craft Center in Kigoma.

Looking Ahead

Currently, the ogverall processing under the USRAP is challenged by the following:

  • Refugees reside in the camp which is located in a remote area
  • RSC and CIS interviews as well as CO classes are held in Kigoma (which requires travel to an area where accommodation and work space are all limited)
  • Health assessments, pre departure formalities and departures are held in Kigoma (which requires travel to an area where accommodation and work space are all limited)

To respond to these and for all agencies to be able to work continuously in order to create a stable pipeline, PRM is funding IOM to:

  • Build the refugee processing center in Makere (12km from Nyarugusu camp) which will enable all agencies to operate seamlessly – expected opening of the site is in 2017 (month not specified)
  • Build additional accommodation and bathroom block in the NMC Transit Center to respond to the increase of the activities before Makere is completed – to be completed by March 2016
  • Build additional accommodation, bathroom and office blocks in the Pastoral Centre in Kasulu which will be used as a transit center for pre departure processing – to be completed by January 2016
  • Build office block at Kasulu airstrip to allow departures from Kasulu – to be completed by December 2015