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Tanzania: Burundi/Rwanda influx forces camp reopening

Briefing notes

Tanzania: Burundi/Rwanda influx forces camp reopening

28 November 2000

The constant flow of refugees from Burundi and Rwanda has compelled UNHCR to re-open a large campsite in Kitali Hills, western Tanzania, which had housed tens of thousands of Rwandan refugees from 1994 to 1996.

An influx to the Ngara region of over 7,000 Burundi refugees fleeing fierce fighting in October along with the arrival of 700 Rwandans during the same time span, has increased pressure on already crowded camps and transit centres. So far in November, another 930 Burundi and 550 Rwandan asylum-seekers have arrived in reception facilities in Ngara, bringing the total number of new arrivals into the Ngara area for the year to over 26,000. A further 50,000 have crossed this year to the south, in the Kigoma region.

A transit centre in the Ngara region intended only for processing new arrivals now shelters 2,600 refugees while Lukole camp, one of the largest camps in the region and currently hosting 137,450 is approximately 20,000 individuals above ideal capacity.

Since 8 November, UNHCR has transferred 4,300 refugees from the congested sites to Kitali Hills which has a capacity of 85,000 people. Heavy rains interrupted the operation a week ago but conditions should allow movements to restart tomorrow, 29 November. The re-opening of the site was approved by Tanzanian government authorities. In an effort to reduce refugee dependency on food aid, UNHCR staff and local officials are allocating family plots large enough to support limited cultivation. So far 5,000 family plots have been mapped.

Limited availability of UNHCR funds has obliged NGOs working at the new site - Oxfam and Norwegian People's Aid - to raise initially their own funds for construction.