Over 21,000 Burundian refugees relocated to Tanzania's Nduta camp as camp consolidation concludes

Tanzania. Camp consolidation

Jambatiste Ntakilumana poses with some of his belongings during the relocation of refugees from Mtendeli to Nduta refugee camp, Tanzania.   © UNHCR/Magdalena Kasubi

Over 21,000 refugees and asylum seekers in northern Tanzania have been relocated to Nduta refugee camp as part of a camp consolidation exercise led by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and the Government of Tanzania. On 6 December, the last convoy departed Mtendeli refugee camp with 443 people.  

The camp consolidation began five months ago following an increase in the voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees.

“Consolidating camps gives UNHCR an opportunity to improve our delivery of life-saving assistance and protection to refugees and asylum seekers, particularly in the current reality of dwindling humanitarian resources,” said George Kuchio, UNHCR’s Deputy Representative in Tanzania. “The remaining refugee population can be more efficiently hosted and together with other humanitarian partners, we can better respond to their needs.”

Kuchio expressed his gratitude to the government of Tanzania and in particular, the community in Mtendeli for generously hosting refugees for the last five years.

“The remaining refugee population can be more efficiently hosted and we can better respond to their needs.”

Upon arrival at Nduta camp, the newly relocated refugees received shelter materials and other household items to help them settle in. They will also be able to access health and education services as well as protection services.

  • A Burundian mother and her child wait to relocate from Mtendeli to Nduta refugee camp, Tanzania.
    A Burundian mother and her child wait to relocate from Mtendeli to Nduta refugee camp, Tanzania. © UNHCR/Magdalena Kasubi
  • Jambatiste Ntakilumana carries his furniture during the relocation of Burundian refugees from Mtendeli to Nduta refugee camp, Tanzania.
    Jambatiste Ntakilumana carries his furniture during the relocation of Burundian refugees from Mtendeli to Nduta refugee camp, Tanzania. © UNHCR/Magdalena Kasubi
  • The last convoy carrying Burundian refugees departs from Mtendeli to Nduta refugee camp in Tanzania.
    The last convoy carrying Burundian refugees departs from Mtendeli to Nduta refugee camp in Tanzania.  © UNHCR/Magdalena Kasubi

“Now that we are moving to Nduta, we call upon UNHCR and the government to support us in strengthening peaceful coexistence with the host community, just like it was in Mtendeli,” said Jambatiste Ntakilutimana, who had been living in the former camp with his three children.

Mtendeli refugee camp was established in 2016 after tens of thousands of asylum seekers sought refuge in Tanzania, having fled conflict in Burundi. 

UNHCR is working with the government and humanitarian partners to ensure that schools, hospitals and community centers are handed over to district authorities and provide services to the host community. Efforts are ongoing to rehabilitate the environment through activities such as tree planting.

“A sudden influx of a significant number of people within a restricted area can have significant effects on the environment,” said Kuchio. “We are committed to help the community in Mtendeli to restore forests and mitigate the environmental impact,” added Kuchio.

With the closure of Mtendeli camp, some 206,000 refugees are now staying in Nduta and Nyarugusu camps, down from 226,000 refugees at the start of 2021. Tanzania currently hosts over 246,000 refugees and asylum seekers mainly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.